Tatiane Sanchez was born in Brazil but raised in the United States with parents who surrounded her with their native music, food, and culture. When they moved back to Salvador, Bahia, the ten-year-old fit right in. She remembers pick-up games of soccer on the street, lazy afternoons at the beach, and long evenings spent doing homework with her father.
Her father worked as a cook and carpenter, and since he knew education was his daughter’s key to unlocking opportunity, he pushed her to excel. Sanchez says the hours they spent doing math sheets and science projects together are among her favorite memories—but her life and future were thrust into uncertainty when a tragic accident suddenly took him away.
Although Sanchez is an only child, her parents had a total of twenty siblings, and she credits a strong network of aunts, cousins, and friends with helping the family recover from their devastating loss. Within two years, she and her mother had moved back to the United States, and Sanchez started crafting a plan.
“My parents worked hard so I could have educational opportunities. I wanted to live up to that,” she says. The young student was determined to honor her father’s memory and help her mother, who was working hard to provide for the family in his absence. Sanchez started working retail jobs at age fifteen, graduated high school early, and enrolled at John Jay College’s Pre-Law Institute.
People come first, and how you interact with people is really important to building trust and forming the types of relationships that will lead to mutual success.”Tatiane Sanchez
It didn’t take Sanchez long to realize she was on the wrong track. She hit pause, took some time off, and started working again to save money for college. She took jobs catering and bartending before finally deciding to pursue a finance degree at New York’s Baruch College.
That’s where Sanchez’s long nights poring over math homework with her dad paid off. She enjoyed each class, performed well, and became a first-generation college graduate. She started her professional career at BDO and spent three years performing external audits in retail, banking, government, manufacturing, and other industries.
While Sanchez was growing her skills, she was still discovering where she fit within the industry. “I struggled working in corporate finance as a young Latina because I didn’t see other people like me in leadership,” she says, adding that she used to straighten her naturally curly hair and suppress her Portuguese accent to fit in amongst her colleagues, leaders, and partners.
As Sanchez grew both in her career and personally, she came to realize that it was not only OK but her responsibility to bring her whole self to work—natural curls and all. She knew she needed to excel not only for herself but for other young women of color.
After learning the external side of the business, Sanchez went internal by accepting a role at a famed international media, communications, PR, and advertising company known as WPP. As she performed risk assessments and executed audits across various agencies, she built strong relationships with one specific division of WPP—GroupM. She joined the organization in 2015.
With more than $50 billion in annual media spend and five agencies (Mindshare, Mediacom, Wavemaker, Essence, and M/Six,) GroupM is the world’s largest media investment company. Tech savvy and data-driven teams work at those agencies to create content for global brands like Ford, Uber, Dyson, Airbnb, Google, and others.
Although GroupM hired Sanchez to coordinate audits and advise business on controls, in North America, she had the rare opportunity to write her own job description and rebuild the role from scratch. Knowing the inner workings of WPP helped, and Sanchez set out to improve upon existing risk and controls activities.
GroupM is the media arm of WPP, a listed company in London and New York. Listed companies are subject to strict external requirements that govern their actions. Sanchez wanted to change the way her colleagues view those critical measures. “Controls and regulations can be seen as obstacles or annoyances. I wanted to bring a new level of awareness so people understand why these things matter and how we can add value by using them as a strength,” she explains.
Others in similar positions often dictate rules from on high; Sanchez wanted to work with business leaders across the organization in a more collaborative way to increase compliance and drive results. That forced her to draw upon important skills she learned earlier in her career. But not the technical skills she learned in Fundamentals of Finance and Accounting. She drew upon the communication and people skills she learned as a bartender.
“People come first, and how you interact with people is really important to building trust and forming the types of relationships that will lead to mutual success,” she says.
With those relationships in place, Sanchez worked to build her team and further enhance processes and strengthen internal controls in the region. Now, she works with each business unit to help its leaders uncover new ways to enhance manual tasks or replace them with automated steps to make the business more efficient. Sanchez and her team, along with the support of leadership have GroupM poised for continued success. Experts say a prolonged advertising boom is just around the corner in one of the few industries that was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While nothing is certain, the company is ready to serve clients looking to take advantage of the new landscape—and Sanchez is ready to support that growth along the way.
Lift & Rise
Strong, confident women have played a major role in Tatiane Sanchez’s life—starting with her mother, to whom she credits for making her the person she is today. Even though she left many contacts behind in Brazil, a “sisterhood” of childhood friends, coworkers, and others serve as her adopted family and help her navigate the twists and turns of her life and career. In 2020, Sanchez joined with three other women to start Lift & Rise, GroupM’s employee resource group that empowers and connects women in the workplace. Lift & Rise enjoys support from executive sponsors who help Sanchez and her leadership team create mentoring opportunities, host seminars and workshops, and provide resources to women at all levels of the organization.