Salesforce's Maria Martinez: Passionate about Developing the Next Workforce Generation
By: Latino Leaders Staff
How did you get to this position and what advice or mentorship did you receive that helped you get to where you are today? Please answer the following questions: What are your most important work and professional values? What is the philosophy you lead your teams with?
I started my career at AT&T and Motorola, and then eventually became CEO of Embrace Networks, before joining Microsoft and now Salesforce. I've been lucky to have many amazing mentors during my career, and I've learned from them that it's important to take risks and not be afraid to fail or "re-calibrate" along the way. Every failure is an opportunity. Bold thinking and risk-taking have led to some of my most memorable professional achievements. I've also learned, especially in the tech industry, that being nimble goes a long way. Being open to new ideas, roles and challenges has opened up tremendous opportunities for me and has shaped me as a leader. Lastly, and most importantly, I've surrounded myself with people who support me and want me to succeed. In turn, I'm motivated to do the same for others. Building an amazing team is the most critical lesson, in my mind.
What steps do we need to take to address the Hispanic Technology pipeline shortage?
I see this as both a supply and demand issue. On the supply side, this is fundamentally a matter of removing stereotypes that are still associated with certain subjects or fields. We need to change the "STEM story" for Latin Americans – and women in particular – and early education is the place to start. This means making sure all K-12 schools are invested in a STEM curriculum and offering courses like computer programming to under-served populations. Young girls and minorities need to know that STEM careers are a possibility before it's too late to alter their trajectory. On the demand side, those of us in STEM fields today have an obligation to connect the dots for them. Creating internships and formal mentoring opportunities, as early as high school, can give this group the access and confidence they need to pursue STEM careers.
How can we improve Latino representation in the technology industry at the C-suite level and how can we instill a culture that considers Latinos for these positions?
I think this a generational issue in many ways. We need to develop a pipeline of future Latino leaders, as well as promote more examples of successful Latino leaders and hold them up as examples in the tech industry. For me, at the end of the day, I’m passionate about developing the next generation of our workforce, hopefully fostering the C-level Latino leaders of the future. I’ve been fortunate enough to explore and realize several of my own passions, and I believe it’s my duty to support others in doing the same. With the right access and support, the ideas that will be brought to life by this generation are endless.
How can we get more tech leaders involved in their communities so that they serve as a point of inspiration?
Well, I think that often when communities request support of local tech leaders, it's about their money or connections. But I think the most critical thing is their time and expertise. If you engage leaders in their areas of interest, and get them to apply their own personal energy toward a community project or issue, the return is astronomical compared to other ways of contributing. Currently, I am fortunate to work for someone like Marc Benioff, who is passionate about diversity, equality and making the world a better place for all – that serves as a daily inspiration for me and a reminder to do the same.
What role do you see Latinos playing for your corporation’s future and how important is this segment for the business?
Super critical for our business. Diversity is a core value at Salesforce – in terms of employees, the vendors we use and the companies we engage with. It's also incredibly important to me. In fact, I'm currently the executive sponsor of a leadership development program within Salesforce that fosters many of our high-potential female and minority employees. I believe that formal mentorship and development of any under-represented group is critical to creating a next-generation workforce that brings a more complete perspective to the workplace … and the world.
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