Eva De La Rosa isn’t all that keen on relishing her accomplishments. The Los Angeles native and first-generation Mexican American is among the first in her family to graduate from college (from Stanford, no less) and the first to receive her MBA (from Duke). Her willingness—and eagerness—to continue challenging herself has, most recently, brought her to Citi as the head of global network marketing for the consumer bank’s global business development and strategy group.
Despite her success, De La Rosa continues to be forward-looking. She would prefer to spend her time working on something new rather than focus on past career accomplishments. “I’m so passionate about leadership in the Latinx community,” she says. “I think it’s time that more of us get out there and talk about our stories, our challenges, and our opportunities.” De La Rosa has found countless ways to give back to her community, and she’s hoping her story will spur on the next generation of Latinx leaders.
Get to (Net)Work
De La Rosa says continually getting out of her comfort zone has emboldened her to continue growing. It’s a lesson that’s played out repeatedly since she decided to attend college away from her primarily Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles. De La Rosa later doubled down on those efforts by electing to pursue her MBA, and subsequently her career, on the East Coast. “In order for me to diversify my personal and professional experiences, it was important for me to broaden my network across geographies, institutions, firms, and industries,” she explains. “Some of my greatest mentors and advocates have been members outside of the Latinx community.”
And that’s not a task the executive takes lightly. “I say this frequently—maintaining and growing your network authentically takes work,” De La Rosa emphasizes. “It’s not just about attending happy hours. I think it’s about cultivating a sense of community and mutual support, culvitaving mutual interests, and staying in touch even when you’re not asking for something.”
That can be as simple as reaching out to ask if a colleague or acquaintance could use help with anything or catching up after changing jobs. “It’s so critical for personal and professional growth,” De La Rosa says.
De La Rosa currently serves as president (and cofounder) of the New York Chapter of the Stanford Latino Alumni Association (SLAA) as well as a member of the SLAA national board. “I will perpetually be grateful for everything my college experience gave me, and any time I have the opportunity to volunteer or to lead in the Stanford community, I do so with a lot of enthusiasm and gratitude.”
According to De La Rosa, SLAA is an ideal place to engage Stanford alumni in forwarding the causes of the Latinx community. “It’s important for us to step up and demonstrate our leadership and our contributions—not just for Stanford but, more broadly, in society,” De La Rosa says. “SLAA’s focus is about sustaining, growing, and reinforcing strong networking opportunities and really giving back to each other, Stanford, and the community.”
Diversity of Thought and Experience
De La Rosa comes to Citi after a successful decade at American Express and previous stints at Coca-Cola and British Petroleum. And while she’s only months into her new position at Citi, the executive is clearly ready to lead. But she’s not going into it with a rose-tinted point of view: as De La Rosa has learned throughout her career in financial services, consumer goods, and retail, some Latinas in leadership positions face unconscious bias, and sometimes their humility is mistaken for weakness. “That is always such a fine line, and I make a point to deliberately find that balance the best way that I can,” De La Rosa says.
Fortunately, De La Rosa has found her experiences while working at several Fortune 500 companies to be marked by a passionate commitment to diversity and inclusion—a commitment she hopes to expand both in her tenure as Citi’s head of global network marketing and beyond. “I think the cornerstone of leadership is being inclusive, irrespective of where a person comes from or their background,” the executive explains. “The more you diversify, the better off you are because you are continuously pressure-testing ideas, problem-solving, executing, and generating creative ideas.”
De La Rosa’s dedication to these values expands beyond her role at Citi. As a member of 2020 Women on Boards—a public advocacy campaign with a mission to increase the number of women on corporate boards—she has helped to increase the number of women who serve on corporate boards in the US. As of 2020, the organization has achieved its goal of seeing 20 percent of board positions filled by women. However, there is still more work to be done, says De La Rosa.
“We’ve been fighting for diversity and inclusion for so long—it’s wonderful to see some of these efforts paying off,” De La Rosa says.
In many of these efforts, De La Rosa has been motivated by current Citi president and incoming CEO Jane Fraser. “Jane has been such a wealth of inspiration for so many of us, not just as a woman and exceptional leader but as someone who lives the values that I appreciate,” De La Rosa enthuses.
The example set by Fraser is one reason why, despite having joined Citi so recently, De La Rosa has already begun executing on her commitment to diverse and inclusive thought leadership, striving to maintain an international lens and keeping a global perspective in mind at all times.
As De La Rosa continues to advance her career, she never seems to forget all those who have helped pave the way for her success. “I come from a background where higher education was viewed as a luxury and was not always attainable,” De La Rosa remarks. “I think that appreciation and eagerness to learn and remain curious is what has helped catapult me here today. It’s something for which I’m truly grateful.”