Lorena Baquedano

I am a leader with more than 25 years of experience in multinational companies. In 2022, I decided to make a transformational change in my career, moving from marketing to leading Diversity, Equity and Inclusion teams.

My background in marketing, strategy planning, and leading teams of excellence throughout Latin America has given me a powerful advantage and perspective to create and grow a DEI culture in companies, through a strategic understanding of company culture.

As well as this, I am certified as a Business Coach, which allows me to bring a new vision to work environments where motivation, inspiration, diversity, respect, sincere interest, feedback and enablement of continuous learning, are the pillars of my people-oriented, inclusive leadership style.

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

My marketing career began 24 years ago, primarily in global tech/software companies such as NCR, SAP, Oracle, Mincom, Red Hat and Sovos. I’ve always felt a deep passion for learning about innovation, languages, cultures, people, and new marketing and PR trends.

I found quite early in my career that I am able to see the “big picture” in anything that I do, meaning it’s always been easier for me to execute any activity if I was able to understand the context and the purpose first.

Being proactive, curious, and a seeker of knowledge has always come naturally to me – I’m always looking for answers and new perspectives. As well as this, I’m a keen observer of the people around me, which has helped me to develop strong leadership skills and an inclusive lens, which inevitably has been the key to building a career that I am proud of and passionate about.

Once I had established myself as a leader, the evolution of my career came shortly after. I started to enjoy the idea of building diverse teams, because I’d learnt that this is where great ideas are formed! One thing is for sure – in the marketing industry, you need to be continuously innovating and brainstorming. One of my biggest discoveries is that you can start from a small idea or concept and work it out to build up a powerful concept that grows with the perspective of each team member.

And then along came Sovos… and I was given the opportunity to reinvent myself. I was offered the opportunity to lead the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) team in Latin America and I couldn’t accept fast enough!

Today, I am proud to have been able to evolve my career into a new direction, one where I can intersect my experience as a leader, a marketer and connect it with DEI.  Walking away from a comfort zone is never easy, but to be able to learn new things, and to be in a role where as an inclusive leader I can help leaders and employees to build together a diverse and inclusive culture. A culture where everyone feels safe to be their own self, to feel confident sharing ideas, and building a working environment where you are heard and valued.  Developing a sense of belonging feels so good!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t. From day one, I knew I wanted to become a leader and I was lucky enough to have great mentors along my path, as well as bad leaders that helped me to become the leader I am today. I was better able to understand what aspects I value most and what approach I wanted to take. Along the way, having this attitude of wanting to always learn new things, looking for new challenges, and enjoy the experience has certainly helped too.

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

I have faced many career challenges, and I overcome them with the big picture perspective!

Balancing my responsibilities as a leader, a wife and a mother of three has really been a big challenge. I overcame it knowing that I wanted to be a present, loving mother and always have my kids as a priority. At first, I decided to take a job with less responsibility and shorter working hours, but I ended up working the same with a lower salary, so I took a year off to reorganise myself and build a support network that would allow me to continue developing my career. It was hard, sometimes exhausting, but I also knew that it wouldn’t be good for my kids to have a mum that felt frustrated for not being able to put her talents to use to fulfil part of my life purpose.

For me, the key is to be true to yourself. If you’re happy stepping out of your career and dedicating a 100% of your energy to your family and kids, if you don’t want to have kids at all and focus on your career, or if you want to expand your career and also have a family – among many other options, they are all the right decision if you take them in coherence with your true self.

This is one of the things that I value most about today’s world, we are heading into a more diverse and inclusive society: so it’s ok to follow your passion, your dreams and decide what is best for you, not what society believes is the correct way to be.  If you’re in sync with your talents and desires, and you’re clear about your purpose, you can make anything work!

So how do you get there? Well, it’s so important to establish a daily routine that includes time for mindfulness and solitude, like meditation or journaling for example. This will help you to connect with your true self and to reflect on how you’re feeling. If you feel overwhelmed, then you can seek help, which will in turn help you to expand your vision on the problem and evolve.  Some of the most important things I’ve learnt include: how to put boundaries in place, how to recognise myself instead of looking for external validation, and how to assert myself. These tools among many others have helped me to get out of the victim mindset and really progress as a person. In doing so, I now feel happy in both my career and personal life, and I’m able to integrate both worlds in a healthy way.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Leading regional teams in multinational companies in Latin America is certainly up there. My responsibility was to bring regional perspective into global companies, participating in more than seven company integrations, and helping them to experience a smooth transition. I’ve also been able to preserve the talent, which is one of most important assets in M&A processes.

In the last few years, I’ve also learned the importance of leading with courage; that means having the hard conversations, standing up for yourself and for your team when necessary, and being coherent in everything that you do. In other words, “walk the talk”.

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

My passion for learning new things, taking on new challenges, believing in myself and standing up for myself have been a few key drivers of my success. As well as this, I genuinely want each of my team members to grow, to expand, to blossom and become better individuals, even if at some point you feel threatened that they will become better than you! At the end of the day, if your team shines and they feel valued, then feeling threatened in a fair way, is a win win situation!

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

First believe in yourself, discover your talents and connect them with your work. If you’re not enjoying what you do, move to a new challenge that keeps your soul happy and vibrant!

Additionally, ask for feedback and have those tough conversations when you feel someone is being unfair. Be accountable for yourself and take the necessary steps to be coherent, both internally and externally.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, there’s no denying that there are still many barriers to overcome, but it depends on how you approach them.

If the company’s values, mission and leaders are aligned with your own values, you can overcome barriers more easily; if they’re not, it’s harder. So my advice would be: stand up for yourself and seek the right workplace where you can blossom. Look for a culture that aligns with your values.

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

Companies can enable female talent in many ways! First, they can start by building a DEI company culture – a safe space for women to grow their careers. Build mentoring programmes so that women can learn from each other in the organisation. Build ERG groups so that women can discuss and share different points of views, and feel supported to overcome workplace barriers. These things will help working women to gain perspective on the challenges they might be facing and as a result, grow with a community sense.

There is currently only 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

First, I’d hire more women in leadership. I‘ve observed that the percentage of female participation grows immediately in teams where a woman is leading. Secondly, provide training opportunities and initiatives around DEI for leadership and all employees, which will help to highlight potential unconscious bias when recruiting new team members, and in talent cycles when they evaluate their teams.

What resources do you recommend?

I would recommend: “Women who runs with the wolves”, from Clarissa Pinkola. It’s a deeply spiritual book of stories around women connecting with the wild women archetype. It really connects you with the intuitive, the creator, the healer and the cycles that live inside of us.