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As senior vice president and global head of customer support at Oracle, Adriana Torres is a leader, a mentor, a student, and a career pro when it comes to global operations, transformation, and enhancing the customer experience. Nearly thirty years into her career, Torres continues to inspire those around her by leaning into diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts at Oracle and abroad, seeking out board service opportunities, and graduating with a PhD in international business in 2023.
After significant stints at bp, Citi, and Visa, Torres came to Oracle in 2016 initially to help turnaround a recent acquisition in the hospitality and food and beverage space. It was a new industry for Torres, but that’s part of the reason she took the role.
“I’ve been in customer experience for my entire career, and the opportunity to work in one of the largest software companies in the world, especially in the hospitality and food and beverage space, was very exciting,” Torres explains.
The success of that effort led to Torres’s role expanding across multiple verticals at Oracle, an organization that works in just about every industry. Torres has also had the opportunity to help move Oracle forward on DEI initiatives and foster more inclusion and belonging for those who may feel like outsiders—a feeling Torres knows well.
Torres’s first outsider role may have been growing up surrounded by boys, but she’d experience a healthy amount of déjà vu when she began her career. With three brothers, Torres always felt like she was on the outside looking in, trying to get involved in whatever her siblings were doing. She found that connection by being the planner—the orchestrator for her family. It wasn’t a role that got her much thanks, but it would be the perfect training ground for the rest of Torres’s career.
“When I began my career in Brazil, I was the first female trainee in an operations or business role,” Torres explains. “I, along with the legal head, became the first female managers in the company’s forty-year history. When I moved to the United States, not only was I often the only woman in the room but I was also the only Latina.”
Torres is a perfect DEI advocate given her global experience. The executive has worked across 120 countries and has led global teams of up to 15,000 employees. In fact, Torres has worked globally for so long that she usually can isolate an accent to its country of origin.
“When you work across the world for this long, you can’t help but learn to love the culture of different countries and the incredible people it creates,” Torres says. “You learn that bringing together different people and different perspectives enriches the dynamic of every team. And you learn that we are all connected, even though we come from different places and have different experiences.”
She may have decades of global leadership, but Torres says she’s always searching for the next opportunity to learn. Torres has two master’s degrees, and she will earn her PhD from the International School of Management by the end of 2023. After a successful stint as a business management instructor at St. John’s University, Torres sees her life in academia growing in parallel with her corporate career.
Though an outsider at times, Torres continues to bear witness to the power of diversity, and the inherent responsibility of helping eliminate potential barriers for the next generation of leaders.
As she has progressed through her career, Torres has found ways to give back to the Latino community and inspire the next generation of Latina leaders. Torres has acted as a board member for the Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC) since 2018. Most recently, Torres joined the board of Grameen America, a nonprofit that provides loans, savings programs, financial education, and credit establishment for women who live in poverty in the United States. The organization recently partnered with Jennifer Lopez to help low-income Latina entrepreneurs.
Torres has been recipient of many industry awards for her contribution and engagement with the community. In 2018, Adriana received the Powerful Women on Bay Awards, and the Executive Excellence Award from great Minds in STEM. She was nominated HITEC 100 Most Influential Hispanic in Technology for five years consecutive and has also been inducted to the HITEC Hall of Fame in 2023.
Whatever comes next, Torres will do so with an open mind and the intention of helping outsiders like her get through the door. “It has been a great journey so far, it sounds ‘cliché”, but I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Advice for Future Latina Leaders
Whenever Adriana Torres speaks with young Latinas, she shares critical advice to help them navigate a corporate environment that is challenging and, often, outright hostile to women of color.
- Know what you want
- Get things done
- Do the right things and do them right
- Don’t be afraid to take risks
- Learn from your mistakes
- Never stop learning
- Build positive relationships
- Be a team player
- Be resilient when you need to, but be respectful of others
- Recognize and celebrate success