Last week, I attended, for the first time, the Latinas in Tech Summit. Even Though I could not meet with any attendees in person, being an online summit, I was amazed to make so many connections in such a short time.
For the first time in a long time, I felt in my element.
This event was engaging, motivating, and energizing from the facilitators to the fantastic lineup of speakers (Victoria Espinel CEO of BSA, CA Senator Alex Padilla, and Salesforce's EVP Lidiane Jones). I particularly enjoyed the different skills workshops and the networking mixers, which provided a venue to discuss the content shared
As a former head of HR at a tech startup, I always felt lonely at the top. Diversity was lacking in many of the networking groups I belonged to. It was rare to find other senior Latina professionals in tech and even more so at my level. The lack of diversity and Latina representation at the top is why I decided to become an executive leadership coach working with women and BIPOC professionals. I want to do my part in helping others like me ascend to the top.
Here are my three major takeaways from the event.
#1 Latinas are a powerhouse.
I loved this event because it showcased that no matter where in the world, Latinas are a talent powerhouse. Our intelligence, grit, and ability to iterate and adapt fast, as well as our incredible relationship-building skills, make us uniquely positioned to succeed. We have wonderful gifts and superpowers that allow us to solve unique problems, especially in the tech world. All three winners of the first-ever #LatinasinTech Startup Competition demonstrated this by solving complex issues and not giving up on any of their dreams no matter how difficult it seems. I know for many other participants, this provided with that inspirational dose needed for times like ours. For many Latinas that are just entering their career paths, this also shows them that we can! Si Se Puede! I hope to keep seeing more amazing participants in the next events.
#2 Strategic Networking Is Key
Another key takeaway from the event is that we need to be absolutely strategic about building our network. This goes to our professional as well as our personal life. I was pleased to see at least two sessions focused on this particular issue with substantial participation. Strategic networking is something that I like to remind many of my clients and transcend cultural lines. Oftentimes, we allow ourselves and our energy to be depleted by those who doubt our greatness and ability to succeed. For many reasons, we tolerate them because we do not like the discomfort of having a difficult conversation, a sense of loyalty, or simply because it's hard to put some distance (#familylife) in between. Yet if we are to advance in our careers, we MUST surround ourselves with mentors, advocates, and allies, who are there to support and help us reach new heights, not to drag us down. If you do not have any in your immediate circle, build one out! Right now, thanks to technology, this is more feasible than ever. In this previous article, I provide actionable advice on how to go about networking if you are interested in learning more.
#3 Limiting Beliefs and Inner Critic
On the other hand, there is something that, as I was participating, I could not help but observed. It's how much our community, self-doubt, and impostor syndrome suffers from.
The chat was lit with comments and questions about these issues. Moreover, I'm no professional analyst, but the large number of women participating in panels such as "Beating Impostor Syndrome" and "Unleashing the Power to Reach your Highest Potential" painted a clear picture.
The struggle is real.
It makes perfect sense.
And, of course, it makes perfect sense because many of us had to chart our paths in environments where we were not exactly the most welcome. On the contrary, we had to make room for ourselves against all odds, inch by inch. Furthermore, In many instances, we were the first in our families to go to school and reach the corporate world, at least in a professional capacity. It's hard for us to feel like we belong and adequate when society constantly reminds us we don't.
And here is my message to you: Send that inner critic "para el carajo" (to hell)
Your persona, your strengths, your experiences have prepared you for where you are. You already have what it takes, and you simply need to decide to take the action. Furthermore, If you do not know something, it does NOT mean that you aren't good enough. It means that you have not learned that skill yet, and yes, that includes leadership and sitting at the table.
Take it from me.
For years I allowed others to convince me that I was not good enough. Indeed they almost succeeded. But something in me told me that I had to go for more and redefine what authentic leadership means. I kept pushing forward and I'm so glad I did.
That's why I'm passionate about helping others lead empowering lives and careers, especially professionals from underrepresented groups. Through my coaching program "Elevate and Own Your Voice" we will work from the inside out to facilitate your transition to that authentic and powerful you.
To close, once again, seeing so many inspiring Latina leaders already making a difference as well the incredible energy oozing from the chat made me, for the first time, feel like I was not alone anymore; I've felt I finally found my tribe.