Esther Lago Mendez leads partner marketing at Mapp, a leading global martech company. She does not have a tech background, but now has a tech role at Mapp and is also heavily involved with The Mach Alliance, a high-tech organisation that is all about encouraging more organisations to use composable tech architectures. She is not only a member of the marketing council at Mach Alliance, but she mentors other women via the Women in Mach initiative, to encourage more women into the industry. 

Esther is bilingual in English and Spanish and has lived, worked and studied in both Spain and the UK so has an interesting perspective on both cultures.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role.

Born and raised in Spain, my background is in business management and online marketing. Currently, I am the Associate Director Partner Marketing at Mapp, where I have been working for the past 2 years.

My journey into the tech industry began when I played a key role in launching the Campaign & Partnership plan for Oxford University Press’s first online digital exam. This experience allowed me to dive into the world of technology and partnerships, dealing primarily with product owners and resellers.

Following that, I transitioned into the consultancy field, working with a CRM firm that operated in both Spain and the UK. This role exposed me to diverse challenges and opportunities in managing client relationships, marketing and most importantly, partners.

Now, as the Associate Director Partner Marketing at Mapp, I am responsible for developing and managing partner marketing initiatives for the company, together with supporting all the strategy and operations initiatives.

I am passionate about the ever-evolving landscape of marketing and technology, and I thrive in collaborative environments where creativity and strategic thinking come together to achieve business objectives.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I did actually sit down and plan my career, especially when COVID-19 hit and had a significant impact on my professional journey. Prior to that, I had been working in the publishing sector for six and a half years, and while I had a genuine passion for books, I couldn’t help but feel a desire to work in a more dynamic and tech-oriented environment.

Throughout my career, I have always nurtured a geeky side, being genuinely interested in new technologies, gadgets, and the digital landscape. When the pandemic led to my redundancy, I saw it as an opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate my career path.

During this time, I did freelance marketing work to manage my finances while considering what direction to take. Reflecting on my past experiences, I particularly enjoyed the collaborative work with Amazon Education and Microsoft during my time at Oxford University Press (OUP), and that sparked the thought that the tech industry was indeed the right choice for me.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Indeed, I encountered several significant career challenges during my transition from the publishing industry to the tech sector. One of the main hurdles I faced was the shift in industries itself. Moving from publishing to tech required me to learn new skills, adapt to different work dynamics, and navigate unfamiliar territory. Despite having connections in the Edtech sector, I encountered many rejections and found the tech industry can be pretty closed to newcomers. Unfortunately, this sector remains predominantly male-dominated, which added another layer of complexity to my journey. As a woman in this field, I had to work harder to prove my capabilities and break down stereotypes.

To overcome these challenges I focused on upskilling myself to become more competitive in the tech industry. I took online courses, attended workshops, and actively sought opportunities to develop my technical expertise.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest career achievement to date has been leading the successful launch of the first Amazon Alexa skill focused on English learning for Spanish speakers during my time at Oxford University Press. It was an incredibly rewarding project that I had the privilege of spearheading from ideation to execution.

From the early stages of the project, I was responsible for developing the concept and putting together a comprehensive business plan. Collaborating with a talented team, we worked diligently to ensure the skill’s content and functionality were tailored to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking learners seeking to improve their English language skills through Alexa.

During this journey, I had the opportunity to establish a productive partnership with Amazon, where we jointly developed a strategic marketing plan to promote the skill to our target audience effectively.

The project’s success exceeded our expectations, and it received significant recognition. In 2019, we were honoured to receive an award for one of the best business ideas of the year in Spain.

It has been a pivotal moment in my career, solidifying my passion for the intersection of technology and education.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

It really comes down to determination and resilience. Throughout my career, I have encountered various challenges and obstacles, but I’ve always persevered.

I credit much of this mindset to the valuable advice my mother instilled in me from a young age. She always told me, ‘If somebody else does it, you can too.’ Her unwavering belief in my capabilities has been a powerful source of motivation throughout my journey. Her encouragement has given me the confidence to tackle challenges head-on, knowing that with determination and hard work, I can overcome any obstacle.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology? 

Mainly two pieces of advice:

  1. Technology is constantly evolving, so it’s crucial to stay curious and keep up with the latest trends, tools, and advancements. Invest time in continuous learning through courses, workshops, and online resources to enhance your technical knowledge and skill set.

  2. Networking is essential in any career, and the tech industry is no exception. Attend industry events, join online communities, and engage with like-minded professionals. Building a strong network can lead to valuable opportunities, collaborations, and support in your career journey.

What barriers for women working in tech are still to be overcome?

While significant progress has been made in promoting gender diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, there are still several barriers that women face.

  • Women remain underrepresented in technical roles and leadership positions within tech companies. The lack of visible role models and female leaders can discourage women from pursuing careers in technology and limit their growth prospects

  • Work-Life balance Challenges: The tech industry is known for its demanding schedules and long working hours, which can create challenges for women, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities. Striking a balance between work and personal life can be difficult in such an environment.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Companies should actively promote an inclusive and respectful work culture that values diversity. This includes educating employees about unconscious bias, fostering open communication, and promoting diversity in leadership positions.

They should also offer leadership and skill development programs specifically designed for women. Providing mentorship, coaching, and opportunities for career advancement can help women build the skills and confidence needed to progress in their tech careers.

In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity in tech?

I think it all starts with education: encourage young girls to explore and engage with technology through educational programs, workshops, and mentorship initiatives. And ensure equal access to quality education and resources for girls and women in technology. Offering scholarships and support programs to bridge the gender gap in STEM education.

It’s also important to Implement flexible work policies that accommodate various life stages, caregiving responsibilities, and work-life balance needs. This can attract and retain more women in the tech workforce.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Fortunately, there is a wealth of valuable resources available for women working in tech. One community that I highly recommend is Women in MACH, which is dedicated to fostering the development and inclusion of women within the martech industry. I am personally involved in the mentoring program committee, and I wholeheartedly encourage all women in tech to join us.

Women in MACH operates through various offline and online channels, making it accessible and easy to be a part of. Our Slack channels offer a wealth of content, networking opportunities, job offers, and guidelines on how to thrive as women in this industry.

For podcasts, ‘Women in Tech Podcast’ and ‘Ladybug Podcast’ are fantastic resources that feature inspiring stories, discussions on tech-related topics, and career advice from successful women in the field.

Read more about our inspirational women here.