Diego Martinez is a solutions advisor at Blue Yonder and shares how his first job out of college became pivotal to his career path, ultimately bringing him to Blue Yonder eight years ago. He talks about the importance of always learning and fostering growth in yourself to guide your career path, how challenge in his career turned into opportunity and the leadership traits he most admires.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your childhood growing up?
I was born and raised in Mexico City and have a brother and sister. I am close to my parents and they raised us to be creative, have strong values and always do the right thing.
Where did you go to college for and what was your first job out of college?
I went to the biggest public university in Mexico City – Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. I studied communications and my first job was at Procter and Gamble (P&G) in sales. At first, I was upset that I was placed in a sales role as I initially wanted to work in PR or HR roles. But they placed me in sales as they saw it as a role that fit my skillset.
Looking back, it was the best decision for me!
So you’re glad to be in sales instead of PR?
Yes! I discovered I have the gift of selling. I love to speak with people and learn their story, their challenges, and help them. I think my communications background helped me, because PR is ‘selling’ in a way.
What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career and how did you tackle them?
When I started my career in retail it was a totally new area for me, and the path looked very complex with thousands of things to learn.
I decided to close the gap and learn more about the retail industry. I kept an open mind and embraced this learning as part of my career. I understood that the best way to grow and become a professional in the industry was to immerse myself and study and read everything I could. I have taken many courses and earned several diplomas throughout my career and hope to have an MBA soon.
Self-learning has really gotten me to where I am today.
Can you point to a critical moment in your career that really made a difference in your path?
Yes, it was when I was at P&G. I had been there awhile but wanted a new opportunity to grow and learn. So I took a new role at SC Johnson in category management, and I did not get along well with my manager. It was a challenge to work in a role where we just did not match well in a manager/employee relationship. On the positive side, I learned to be resilient and gained emotional maturity. I also used that time to start a blog as a way to open the door to other professionals and do some networking, while writing on topics I was passionate about.
I came to Blue Yonder after that, and have been here for eight years – so that has been the most positive outcome of that critical moment in my career – it brought me here.
What did you like most about blogging?
When I had that tough time with my previous job, I had to start thinking about what I would do if I didn’t have a job. So I started writing to get exposure, meet new people and network. I took a chance with it and really enjoy it! I have been blogging for about eight years.
Who is your role model and what have you learned from them?
Antonio Boccalandro (formerly president of LATAM region at Blue Yonder; now president of APAC region). He’s one of the best leaders. He’s very professional, knows the business inside and out, and is attentive to details. He’s very human and he always puts people first. All of his teams love him and he leads with empathy. If he asks you to do something, you do it because you want to and respect him. You know if you ask him to do something, you’ll have it or his support.
What’s one piece of advice you would have given your younger self?
Keep studying! To me, learning new things and being open to learning is the best skillset to have.
How would you describe your work environment? Your teams?
We are a little family here in Latin America. Antonio really built our team, and we care for one another. I don’t feel stressed about my job, because I love my team and what I do.
Have you ever realized you had an unconscious bias? What did you do about it?
Yes, I realized I make assumptions about people easily. I would just assume someone didn’t have a certain skill but I simply just didn’t know what that person’s capabilities were. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and learn more about the other person and perspective first.
Conversely, has anyone pointed out a difference in the workplace about you? How did you react?
Yes. A sales executive once pointed out my clothing attire choice in front of a customer. At first, I was mad but then decided to turn it into an opportunity to grow. I took it to just improve the way I dress in front of a customer.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
Diversity. We need to be inclusive and have minorities included in the workplace. But it has to be balanced with capabilities and skillset too. Do you choose a person because of skills or because of gender or race? It’s a tough balance. You don’t want to be the token ‘diverse’ person but chosen because of your skills.
Do you have any lesson learned in your career that you have to share?
Don’t take things personally, you are only going to hurt yourself, and the situation will feel worse than it may be. Sometimes it is about the other person, and it is not really about you. Our ego takes over sometimes.
What advice to you have for young adults seeking a career in technology?
Self-learn and take initiative. Master a tool – like Power BI, Excel, or tools that will help you in your job. It will give you the base to understand everything else. Find a part time job even when you are studying, get experience and gain responsibility. Young adults should learn to manage it all.
What are three words to describe yourself?
Grateful. Creative. Positive.