Hispanic Executive spoke with IBM Global Performance Marketing Manager Vanina Marcote about her mentor-mentee relationship with Chief Marketing Officer Maria Bartolome Winans and what it means as a young Latina to work at a forward-thinking global company.
How has IBM empowered you to bring your authentic identity as a Latina to the workplace?
IBM has always provided me with opportunities, including the life-changing one to move to the United States. What brought me to the place I am today are the qualities that make me different. IBM values and promotes my personality, cultural heritage, and challenger mentality. It’s enabled me to nurture and develop my career in a new country.
What’s a recent IBM initiative that underlines the company’s progressive mentality when it comes to D&I?
Something that I really admire about IBM is the way that we prioritize the empowerment of our female leadership. IBM has very strong women in critical roles, Maria being a clear example. It’s taking the necessary steps towards breaking gender biases and creating a path of equal opportunity.
How has your relationship with Maria informed your own role as a strong Latina mentor?
Maria is an inspiration to me in almost all facets. Her story proves that you can achieve anything as long as you are willing to take risks and work hard. I’ve learned so much from my relationship with Maria by listening and observing her closely. She teaches and inspires me with her actions, which I think is the only way to be an impactful leader.
What is a particularly impactful strength of Maria’s that you feel has resonated with you?
I think there are special people who have their own light, who are game-changers. People who inspire, motivate, and challenge you. People who invite you to think big and different. People who push you to take risks and learn from both your good decisions and your mistakes.
That’s Maria. Her energy inspires me to push forward, her vision provides clear direction, and her work ethic drives concrete results. She is the type of leader that everyone admires, and the leader that I hope to be.
As a native of Argentina, how has IBM become your home away from home?
Leaving my life in Argentina was not easy. I had a great job, my family, my friends, my people, my life. But I also had a dream—a life in New York. So, when that dream came knocking on the door, I had no choice but to chase it. Not only did IBM give me the opportunity to move to NYC but it also took special interest in my career by growing my skill set from a small geography like Latin America to a worldwide scope.
But my life is not just about work! I needed to create a social life in my new country as well. IBM introduced me to new friends, some of them expats from different countries—which makes this company rich and diverse—and some of them Americans that were open to meeting new people. IBM not only gave me my career but friends that bring me so much happiness and laughter.
Building my home away from home reminds me of a phrase that rings true in my life: “If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”