Just a few hours before speaking with Hispanic Executive, Adriel Lares moderated a private interview with Carlos Gomez, treasurer at the Walt Disney Company, for his CFO organization at Fastly. Lares and Gomez had become close during Lares’s two-year stint as a treasury analyst at Disney—and, early on in their friendship, the two realized that they shared a mentor in the late Anna Marie Zarate Porras.
The senior associate director of development at Stanford University for nearly twenty-five years, Porras was passionate about reaching out to and helping Latino students such as Lares and Gomez.
In 2015, when Porras was in the final stages of her battle with breast cancer, Lares presented his mentor with one of only three three-liter bottles of his wine company’s very first vintage, an original 2010 Memento Mori. He had saved the wine for the rarest of occasions, and this occasion was certainly one of those. “It was the last big dinner with all of her family and friends,” Lares remembers. “This incredibly successful woman who had been such a great mentor to us and opened our eyes to who we could be and what we could do . . . it meant so much that I could play this small part in her celebration.”
All of this is to say that Lares believes in relationships. He believes in mentorship. And—as is demonstrated on a daily basis by his actions as Fastly’s CFO—he believes that the best-lived life is one spent in service of others.
Because of Others
Lares grew up in Texas. His family immigrated there from Mexico and, years later, Lares would become the first in his family to attend a four-year college—at Stanford, no less. “I had a counselor who believed in me,” Lares recalls of his high school years. “And all along this journey, it’s become very apparent to me that there are just some opportunities you can’t take advantage of without help from others.”
That’s precisely why the CFO takes mentorship so seriously now that he’s on the other side of it. “I’ve tried to seek out opportunities to help others because if I waited until I was fifty, it feels like that would be such a huge waste of time,” Lares says. “Even in college, I was trying to help grade school kids learn English, kids who came from homes where it just wasn’t being spoken. I knew that having command of English would make them much more comfortable and willing to seek out opportunities for themselves.”
When Lares speaks of “seeking out opportunities” to help others, it’s difficult to know whether or not he realizes just how extraordinary his commitment to helping truly is. “You only have a limited amount of time during the day, but I try and make sure that at least 25 percent of my time is spent doing something for others,” Lares says. “I realized that I had received such a benefit in getting help to get where I am, and I want to pass it on.”
Remember to Live
The Latin translation for Adriel Lares’s wine company, called Memento Mori, is “Remember that you will die”—but he and the other owners of the brand have chosen to translate it slightly differently, as “Remember to live.”
As Lares explains, the concept of the name is that we should all take advantage of every day we have. Lares and his partners have taken advantage of their brand’s success by contributing two $50,000 donations to causes nominated through their Remember to Give campaign, including the Happy Kids Foundation and EB Research.
Values Worth Living
It’s easy to see why Lares wound up at Fastly, a tech giant that has quickly become a leader in edge computing services thanks to its partnerships with companies like Advanced Technology Group (ATG).
“I am impressed with Adriel’s ability to lead and innovate through creating and executing his monetization strategy, which has produced one of the most successful IPOs of 2020 and continues to outperform his peers with superior financial results,” says Sam Jankovich, vice president of sales and strategic accounts at ATG.
The company’s partners at Salesforce are likewise impressed with the growth that Lares has helped promote at Fastly. “Fastly’s business transformation using Salesforce CPQ exemplifies how closing complex deals faster drives growth,” says Kylie Fuentes, vice president of product management at Salesforce. “This evolution enables them to rapidly meet changing market needs and provides an incredible buying experience for their customers.”
Fastly’s innovative business model is just one of the many things about the organization that appeals to Lares. “Fastly’s values are very much part of the reason I joined,” the CFO says. “We don’t have wild and crazy values, but we try and live them, which we think is the harder part to do.”
Fastly has found countless ways to walk its talk, Lares notes. The company had already given away more than $25 million of free service to nonprofits when it learned of the Pledge 1 Percent initiative, which has inspired corporations and entrepreneurs from around the world to commit 1 percent of their total revenue to philanthropic organizations. “This was something we were already doing, but we figured we might as well apply for the certification and set an example for others,” Lares says.
“It wasn’t about recognition,” Lares adds. “That sort of approach is not [Fastly CEO] Joshua Bixby’s style at all. It’s just a case of us trying to live our values.”
In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Fastly has dedicated itself to reviewing its recruiting practices and pledged to proactively seek out new and diverse talent. “Doing the right thing builds trust over time,” Lares says. “If your employees trust that you are working for their best interest, there will be less turnover, as well as more trust to get through those difficult times.
“And honestly, doing the right thing just means you have fewer things to remember,” the CFO adds, laughing, in a reference to Mark Twain’s famous quote.
But for a company growing by 30 percent a year, just living those values seems a small miracle in and of itself. “There certainly isn’t a lot of time to waste,” Lares says. “But if you have built that trust, so many decisions can be made quicker.” The pace of growth notwithstanding, Lares still finds time to mentor, be it future executives at Fastly or incoming freshmen at Stanford, for whom the CFO acts as a guiding hand. It’s not clear where Lares finds the time, but it’s easy to see how mentors—past and present—always seem to inform where Lares wants to go.