Hi Kety, tell us about your role and journey into technology.
I was born in upstate New York. My father is from Mexico and my mother is from Guatemala. As a Mexican, Guatemalan and Latina, I grew up with one foot in the United States and the other in Latin America. My father used to joke that our home in Rochester, New York was a little Mexico. Even as a child, I knew I was a global citizen. At one point in my life, I spoke 7 languages. I am passionate about my heritage and the places I have lived including the US. Mexico, Brazil, France, Ethiopia and China. My first interaction with technology came when I was a child and used my first computer in school.
However, the true potential for technology really stood out to me the most in 2003 with the rise of social networks. I saw technology as a conduit to communicate with a wider audience and get my message out to new people across the US. At the time, I was leading Latino outreach for a presidential candidate and was in charge of creating a dialogue between the candidate and the Hispanic community. I remember the moment I realized that technology itself could create communities. It was powerful. It was a turning point for me. I learned the lesson in 2003 and here I am now, 17 years later.
You’ve had a long track record of successfully working in diverse Marketing teams. How did you arrive at AnitaB.org and what attracted you to this fast-moving ecosystem?
I’ve worked as an Executive for digital agencies, traditional agencies and in technology for most of my career, from a VP with Ogilvy and Fenton to a Senior Vice President and Executive Vice President with Edelman. During my journey, I was faced with how few women there were in the tech industry and even less Latinas.
The most recent stats I’ve seen have us, Latinas in Technology, at 2%. As a part of that 2%, I sometimes feel like I have a moral obligation to work as an Executive in the tech space. I’m committed to making this world more inclusive and diverse. That’s why I joined AnitaB.org last year. AnitaB.org offers support to organizations who want to do exactly that. And joining the team in 2019, offered me a chance to have an impact on the tech industry and the lives of women all over the world.
What is AnitaB.org? How does it benefit the tech marketplace?
AnitaB.org is a nonprofit social enterprise inciting a movement to achieve 50/50 intersectional equity in the global technical workforce by 2025. AnitaB.org engages with tens of thousands of women to help advance their careers in technology and also works with leading organizations around the world. AnitaB.org/365 programs empower women and underrepresented communities in technical fields, guide the organizations that employ them, and support the academic institutions training the next generation.
Founded in 1997 by our namesake, Computer Science visionary Anita Borg, and her Co-founder and fellow Computer Scientist, Telle Whitney, AnitaB.org is driving a future where the people who imagine and build technology will mirror the people and societies for whom they build it.
Who are your customers and which geographies/industries are you currently serving?
AnitaB.org works all over the world, and we serve different types of customers. We support individuals who are looking for resources and help in their career path, and companies looking for direction on how they can become a more inclusive and diverse business.
What Marketing-related challenges do you meet every day? How do technology and collaboration tools help you to overcome these?
We live in a diverse world, which means one size doesn’t fit all. At AnitaB.org, we are focused on intersectionality, which means looking at what you are doing through multiple lenses, like race, class, gender, etc. The challenge when it comes to Marketing is making sure you are communicating to target audiences in the most effective way and having tactics that fit the diverse audiences you are trying to reach.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Marketing leader?
We live in a world of data overload. We have access to so much information about our audiences, engagement and behaviors. As we prepare for an AI-centric world as a Marketing leader, it’s important to make sure our information and data is in a good enough place for AI to go in and pull out useful information. It comes down to making sure the tools we use are adding value to our organization vs just adding the latest tech just to say we use AI.
When it comes to AI, we want to make sure the data sets are unbiased and factual so that AI isn’t weeding in unconscious biases.
This Is How I Work
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
My team is passionate about technology. That is one of the benefits of working for AnitaB.org.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Much of my team has started to use Trello. I am excited about the collaboration made possible by this tool.
Which superhero character/ movie do you most profoundly relate to:
I love Wonder Woman. Growing up in the United States a few decades ago, I came across very few superheroes that were Latinas. Lynda Carter, who played the original Wonder Woman was a Latina. Her father is of Scots-Irish ancestry and her mother is of Mexican, Spanish and French descent, just like two my little ones. Wonder Woman was inspiring to me because she was committed to fighting injustice, stood for truth with her magic lasso and had the best tech with her invisible plane. What more could a little girl ask for?
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
My smartest productivity hack is quite simple. I have made my home office mine and off-limits to the kids. In many ways, it’s a sanctuary. It allows me to focus.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading The Art of Happiness at Work by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. One of my favorite quotes from the Dalai Lama keeps me going, even in the toughest times, “The purpose of life is happiness. Happiness is determined more by the state of one’s mind then by one’s external conditions, circumstances or events.” I love both audio books and reading books the old fashion way.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Do the right thing, even when no one is looking.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I never give up. Failure will happen in life. It’s what you do when you fall down that matters most. Do you stand up again? I think that this tenacity and unwillingness to stay down when I fail/fall is the secret to my success.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you, Kety! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Kety Esquivel has over two decades of experience working with clients in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. Her work has taken her to China and Ethiopia with the UN Economic Commission for Africa. She’s coached executives in the US, Canada and Latin America. She has led the digital efforts for top tier agencies, companies and nonprofits for over ten years.
Her diverse B2B and B2C background includes work with several companies, United States government agencies, foreign governments, charitable foundations and nonprofits. Her clients have included American Express, Kraft, Marriot, Huggies, Kodak, Yahoo, Smartmatic, United Airlines, Nissan, Papa John’s, the Public Broadcasting Service, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harvard University, the California Endowment, the US Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Health and the Center for Disease Control.
Kety is on the Advisory Board of Yes We Code and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Innovation and Technology Advisory Board. She’s a former editor of BlogHer, a current blogger on the Huffington Post and has been a convener for Web of Change, She’s Geeky and TEDxAdamsMorgan. Kety has spoken at conferences worldwide including SXSW, the World Bank’s Entertainment Education Conference, Social Media Week and CampaignTech as well as conferences in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, El Salvador, Spain, Ireland and Canada.
AnitaB.org envisions a future where the people who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies that use it. To achieve that vision we connect, inspire and guide women in computing and organizations that view technology innovation as a strategic imperative.
As a mission-driven non-profit, it is essential to expand communications concerning the underrepresentation of women in technical roles, the importance of increasing diversity in tech, and promoting solutions to these challenges. As the leading advocate for women in tech, AnitaB.org provides key influencers, organizations, and individual women technologists with insight about the challenges women face in technical careers, why this matters, the stories of women who are succeeding, and the solutions necessary to build inclusive work environments. Through creative, integrated communications to key influencers, the press, and stakeholders in the broader tech and business communities, we can drive awareness and promote change.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.