NextGen Collective is spotlighting senior people operations generalist Vanessa Torres. She has worked at Fortune 500 companies and in human resources for companies such as NYX Professional Makeup and Activision Blizzard, and today she works at Ruggable. Read about her inspirations while growing up and now, what she has learned about herself and her career, as well as her goals for the next five years.
Where are you from?
I am a proud first-generation Latina, born in Glendora, California, but my roots stem from Zacatecas and Guerrero, Mexico.
What do you do today?
Who inspired you the most in your life growing up?
My parents have been my true source of inspiration and motivation. Their journey has left an indelible mark on my life, shaping my values, ambitions, and passions. They immigrated to a new country, and my dad took on various jobs from construction to working in restaurants to provide for our family. My mom dedicated herself to being an active parent, participating in all school activities and making sure we were always doing well in school. This instilled in me a deep sense of gratitude and a drive to make the most of every opportunity.
Whose career really inspires you?
Bozoma Saint John. I am truly inspired by her journey as an executive, entrepreneur, leader, and mom. She unapologetically shows up as herself in every aspect of her life. Her career is a testament to the power of embracing one’s true self and using it as a source of strength and leadership while breaking barriers. She embraces her whole self, personality, beliefs, and cultural background, which is truly inspiring in a world that often pressures individuals to conform, and demonstrates the importance of leading with intuition and authenticity.
What lesson did you learn early in your career that still serves you today?
Knowing my value and recognizing the significance of my ideas and contributions in the workplace. Initially, I struggled with imposter syndrome and doubted whether my skills and perspectives were truly valuable. However, over time, I experienced a transformative shift in mindset that has made a difference in my professional journey. I became more proactive in sharing my ideas, actively participated in discussions, and took on new challenges. I realized that my unique perspective had the potential to bring fresh insights and innovative solutions to the table. It also empowered me to advocate for myself to further my goals and career aspirations.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see for Latino professionals early in their careers?
The combination of societal stereotypes, cultural expectations, and the pressure to succeed contributed to the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. The lack of representation is another significant challenge faced by Latinx professionals early in their careers. When we enter a workforce where we see few individuals who look like us or share our cultural background in positions of power and influence, it can be disheartening and isolating. Despite these challenges, what always keeps me going is remembering my why, believing in myself, and supporting other Latinx professionals in the corporate space.
What is part of your daily routine that you look forward to every day?
A year ago, I made a conscious decision to prioritize my physical health and commit to incorporating gym sessions into my daily morning routine. By dedicating the first two hours of my day to focus on my physical and mental well-being, I have seen an improvement on my mental clarity and overall performance throughout the day. This decision has had a profound impact on my daily life, and it’s something I genuinely look forward to every morning.
What behavior or personality traits do you attribute to your success?
Grit and passion. These qualities have been instrumental in shaping my journey and have played a significant role in where I am in life today. The combination of grit and passion has helped me navigate various aspects of my career and has allowed me to learn from failures and setbacks, adapting and growing stronger as a result. Meanwhile, my passion has provided me with the drive and motivation to continually seek learning opportunities, expand my skill set, and pursue excellence in my field. It has allowed me to approach my work with enthusiasm, creativity, and a genuine desire to make a meaningful impact.
Which causes are you passionate about?
Two causes that I am deeply passionate about are supporting Latinas in corporate America and advocating for first-generation access to higher education and other opportunities for a more equitable and inclusive society. I am passionate about advocating for their empowerment, amplifying their voices, and promoting diversity and inclusion within corporate environments. As someone who is a first-generation college graduate myself, I understand the transformative power that education can have on an individual’s life. By advocating for their access to higher education and supporting initiatives that address these barriers, we can open doors to a brighter future and empower individuals to reach their full potential.
What is one non-work related goal that you would like to achieve in the next five years?
First, I would love to travel to all sixty-three national parks within the United States. I am fascinated by the natural beauty and diverse landscapes that allow me to connect with nature and immerse myself in breathtaking scenery. Hiking through rugged terrains, camping under the stars, and encountering wildlife in their natural habitats are experiences that not only offer a sense of adventure but also provide moments of gratitude. I’d also like to graduate with my MBA. I am beyond excited to start my MBA journey this fall at California State University Long Beach and add to the statistic of Latinas with MBAs. I look forward to expanding my knowledge and skillset in the business world.