Carla Garcia is a newly promoted SCPO Support Team Lead for Planning at JDA. She’s an avid learner and curious by nature and these two things have pushed her to take leaps in her career and her life. She’s run multiple marathons and considers them a metaphor for life as there is always something new to learn, a challenge to tackle, and opportunities for growth.

Carla crossing the marathon finish line!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Mexico and am the oldest of my siblings (a brother and a sister). I also have two nephews Iker and Isaac (5 and 4 years old).

I am very curious, I love learning new things, take on challenges and adventures, I like to travel and meet different people and try different cuisines. I love to run and have run 6 marathons so far, including Paris, Chicago, and New York, just last year.

How did you get into your career as a technical analyst? Was it what you went to school for? 

I consider myself a very competitive person. There were two reasons why I studied Engineering, though not a field many women have been in, historically. I went into the field because of my late grandfather, who was a civil engineer and he always told me that he’d like to see me study engineering. The second was because my friends at the time didn’t think I could do it as it was a very difficult career. I wanted to prove them wrong and make my grandfather proud, so I went on to study information systems engineering at a local private university in my hometown.

My mom has always said that in life, you must be very careful when choosing two things, your partner and your career because these two things will require daily efforts and you must love them both! I equate my education and engineering career to be “the career of my life.” I’m proud that I took the chance and went after something I was curious about and challenged me. Even though there were many times I felt scared, I have always taken risks and they’ve been for the best.

You’ve been at JDA for a little over a year. Tell us about your role and experience at JDA so far.

My career so far at JDA has been a watershed moment in my professional life. JDA is constantly changing and there are always new things to learn.

I’ve also been given the opportunity to gain life experiences. For example, I was the first solo woman from Mexico to be sent to India for training purposes. It was such a memorable experience, not only for what I learned but the people I met. It opened the door to new experiences that while they were a challenge, they made me grow personally and professionally.

Carla visiting JDA customer Loblaw

I’ve also had a great opportunity to visit customers’ sites, working with them to build a relationship where they trust me and my work. I feel valued at JDA and with our customers as a result.

What are your favorite parts of your role?

Without a doubt, my favorite part is the customer interaction. Although it is a challenge, it is a skill that you can develop over time. It’s so important to understand the customer and their needs and being empathetic to their problems.

Why did you choose a career in supply chain and technology?

Technology impacts all careers in some way – medical, education, visual arts, etc, – and it has changed every business for the better. And the supply chain affects nearly every aspect of our lives from the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, to household items and more,  and as the technology continues to develop it’s going to impact the supply chain substantially. That’s why I joined JDA – it is the future and affects so much of our lives, so it was really interesting to me and there are so many opportunities to learn and grow.

What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career and how did you tackle them?

I had a customer challenge recently where we needed to help solve some past issues and get our relationship with them back on track. I prepared a presentation and suggested weekly meetings with the various teams at the customer to monitor progress. This was a challenge for me as I had never taken the lead in a meeting at a customer by myself, and it demonstrated that I could lead the meeting, and develop a solution for the customer to keep them happy.

How do you define success?

For me, success is to be happy with what you do and making your loved ones happy with what you do, too.

How do you stay inspired professionally?

For me, it is to hone in on what I like to do most and try to do more of that in my job, to keep things fresh. I am always interested in learning and doing more, and that keeps things challenging as well. In addition, I try to put a bit of my personal stamp on everything I do, to be a little more creative, to put together a new process or design a spreadsheet that is more effective. Having my style on my work inspires me.

Can you point to a critical moment in your career that really made a difference in your path?

I used to be afraid of not being good enough for a job until I realized that there is always learning opportunities and you don’t have to know everything.

I remember when Anna Cepeda, from our HR team, called me about the job at JDA. I was already 6+ years in another job and was in my comfort zone and wasn’t really learning anything new. She asked me if I would be interested in the role at JDA and I said yes, even though I was happy being comfortable in my current job. I didn’t think anything would come of it, but a day and a half later, she called me for an interview.  It was the decision that changed my life, not only because I am very happy at JDA, but because it has allowed me to go to places I could not have imagined, to speak with successful leaders of important companies, meet and have dinner with the CEO and feel I’m in charge of key accounts. Above all, it has been a great learning experience.

What is the best risk you’ve taken and why?

Carla presenting her Crystal Ball idea to CEO Girish Rishi

The best risk I’ve taken has been to say yes to opportunities! From changing jobs to following my dreams to asking what I think might be silly questions, to expressing my ideas, to traveling alone, and to get to the finish line in a marathon!

You may never know what will happen, but that is also what makes the ride worthwhile.

What is the best advice you ever received? Who gave it to you?

“Let things happen as they have to, do not try to control everything”

It was a piece of advice that a previous boss gave me, and after that, he told me about the theory of chaos (aka “butterfly effect”) that suggests that small changes can generate great results.

We generally use the word chaos to refer to situations of disorder and confusion in the world or in our own lives. “I Ching” teaches that chaos that brings the storm allows life to flourish again. In physics, the term is used to explain a dynamic system that evolves according to the deterministic law. In a way, all the definitions fit together. Chaos = Evolution, So I won’t be afraid of failure, disorder, or things I cannot control.

What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?

That everyone makes mistakes. If I had met my younger self when I started my career, I would tell me to keep the faith, that it is okay to be wrong and it is okay not to know everything.

I always remind myself that I am good at what I do and that I bring skills and qualities to the table that are important and valued – but there is still a LOT to learn.

What female leaders do you admire and why?

There are three women I admire the most.

Ada Lovelace – Considered to have written instructions for the first computer program. She was a pioneer in computer science and engineering. In a career where women are underrepresented, her leadership is significant and inspires me given that only 29% of women are involved in science and R&D, according to UNESCO.

Kathrine Switzer – She was the first woman to run a marathon (Boston) as a numbered entrant. She broke the gender barrier and paved the way for women in running. Thanks to her, women were officially allowed into races in 1971, at the same time she created awareness of healthy lifestyles and the importance of fitness in women. She said that “Triumph over adversity, that’s what the marathon is all about, nothing in life can’t triumph after that.” – I believe this as well and equate running a marathon to life!

Frida Kahlo – She was not only a Mexican painter, but she also had polio and had a serious accident in her youth. She had revolutionary political ideas (women at that time did not comment on these matters). She is a role model because despite her physical limitations, she continued doing what she loved, and she was proud of her country, which was reflected in her art.

What do you think are the biggest obstacles of gender diversity in the workplace?

Being taken seriously due to gender perceptions or stereotypes.

What is the biggest challenge for the next generation of women in tech (or supply chain)?

Not having enough female role models. Younger people need, and want, to have role models to look up to within their own organizations, to be inspired by or to be mentored by.

It is vital that the IT industry acts on this and there is no better time than now. Gender disparity is a well-known and publicized issue. We need to keep this topic front and center and spread awareness to change this perception and diversity gap in the workplace.