Empowerment Series: Program Manager, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Google – Alexandra Garcia Shares Her Story with AW
Alexandra Garcia first came to my attention at the Smashbox Jefacon Conference in 2020. I instantly clicked with her presentation on how to effectively shape our stories. She has over a decade of marketing experience working with Fortune 500 brands across various industries and currently works at Google as Program Manager of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. In an interview for AW, I had the wonderful opportunity to discuss how owning our stories can help create genuine connections.
As a writer, having the ability to tell a story in a way that connects readers to its characters is a powerful tool. It is equally important to deliver real-life stories in a way that is truthful with dignity and compassion. The ability to interpret thoughts shared without misconstruing words or experience is the foundation of writing interviews since I do not use recordings. I’m a firm believer that sharing stories helps us bond and improve human understanding. It is exactly what took place during my Zoom meeting with Alexandra. Hopefully, it will impact how you embrace truth when telling your own story.
Google employees have shifted to working from home, as many other firms have during the pandemic. Alexandra is currently working out of Puerto Rico, her home country. Her childhood bedroom was the backdrop for a home office, offering an authentic feel for the girl that grew into success. She was born and raised on this beautiful island. Although she has resided in the US her adult life, the deep roots in her culture remain intact. The fearless and outspoken Latina expressed herself in a clear and powerful voice that awakened a sense of pride in my own culture, as we exchanged stories.
Everyone has a story. The narrative we choose helps design the life we want. What story have you told yourself to get where you are today? Reflecting on the story of my maternal grandparents, Octavio and Irma from Puerto Rico have been key. Their story grounds me, it is a reminder of who I am and where I come from, which ties into my values. My grandmother did not graduate high school, instead moved to The Bronx, married my grandfather, and raised 6 daughters. New York was not easy living for a barely educated Latino couple looking for progress between the 50s and 70s. I always think about them and their bravery during a time when Latinos had it tough but they relied on family values to carry them through tough times. Despite challenges, all the daughters went on to become professionals, among them lawyers, teachers, pharmacists, all doing very well for themselves. I tell myself their story to fill me with pride and gratitude, as I continue to “fight the good fight.” I am a strong, independent woman whose stories offer strength, helping me to remain humble and honorable.
I’ve listened to you discuss the importance of sharing our story to connect. What is a primary component in the success of your personal brand, as you conduct yourself in a professional/business setting? I have been called “fearless.” When I was young, I wanted to be part of the theatre because I believe that creatives know how to connect, which is what I was looking to do. Choosing this field requires one to develop a tough skin to withstand all the rejections on the journey as a professional. After constantly hearing the word, “No,” I began to ask myself “What have I learned?” I realized being turned down was giving me an opportunity to learn. “The word no, leads you to your path, more than yes, does.” Theatre gave me the fearless aspect of myself, asking each time “What do I have to lose if I try? Change your narrative, failure is not a bad thing.
Our individual stories are powerful, each one unique. We have the ability to bring something different to the world. How has your personal life experience contributed to the woman you are becoming and what you are contributing to the world around you? I am so proud to have been born and raised in Puerto Rico. My core values, language, foods, music, and overall shape my identity. The journey I am on as a Puerto Rican-born woman encourages me to stand tall, especially when my Latinidad is questioned. As an underrepresented group in the tech industry, it’s crucial to be part of the conversation that attracts Latina, Black, or Asian talent. Having a seat at the table means that I have a responsibility to be a spokesperson for those not able to be in the room. My purpose is to provide more opportunities to the Latinx communities. I am using my fearlessness, outspoken and friendly nature to inspire others that can open doors for everyone.
Women oftentimes conceal bad experiences that stem from life, work, relationships, childhood for fear of being judged or shamed. It’s vital that we support one another by showing up and being real. How important do you feel it is for us to share our stories, regardless of what it is? Sharing stories is the reason I am where I am today. While working at Twitter, I took part in a woman’s group purposely created to come together and share experiences. Sitting alongside other women express guilt, shame, and other feelings about things generated empathy among the group. Women are so much stronger when they come together. Sharing our stories makes us better managers and better people. Learning to listen to each other is truly valuable but needs a balance. “The power of community is what allows us to overcome the fears and stereotypes that we have as women, and become an entity.” Let’s all come together in support of women.
AW interviews always end on a positive note with a desire to inspire or empower women on their personal journey. Are you able to share a mantra, quote, or piece of advice that has helped you during the process of creating your story? My favorite quote which I use to close out many of my talks is by Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you did but never forget how you made them feel.” Lastly, as a piece of advice, I would say, invest in yourself! Use self-reflection, journaling, listen to or take an online course, practice yoga, therapy, meditation, seek therapy. We have so much to give back to the world but we need to take care of ourselves, first. Sometimes, we may not have the means but doing these things to encourage our growth is vital. If you don’t do them, no one will do it for you.
AW is incredibly grateful to Alexandra for sharing her story with our readers. Our interview was a beautiful high note during my ongoing journey in this interview series. Her grace and openness while telling the story of her family were inspiring. She is grounded by the people she loves, and the country she comes from while appreciating all aspects of the hardship endured by those that came before her. The story of her grandparents is embraced with respect, they laid a foundation that helped shape the lives of those that would give rise to progress for generations to come.
Sharing stories is important for connection, healing, and learning the lessons. Embrace yours and share it forward to promote inspiration, motivate or give hope to anyone that may need it.
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