It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in tech; according to TechNation, last year only 26% of those working in the field in the UK were women, while Hispanic and Black women represented just 3% in 2019. So, what’s it like working as a Latina in the industry?
We spoke to Paz Petraglia, Cambridge MBA alumna (MBA 2018) and Sales Enablement & Ops Lead at Uber, about her experiences in the field, her work as a mentor, and how the landscape for women in tech is gradually changing.
What does your current role at Uber involve?
At Uber I lead the Sales Enablement & Ops function, which involves developing training programmes, identifying process improvements across the end-to-end sales cycle, and launching new systems and tools. I interact with more than seven teams on a daily basis, with an overall mission to improve productivity in sales and account management.
What do you enjoy most about working in tech?
What I love about working in tech is that there’s no horizon; it’s very easy to create something, and to change and adapt. I love the culture at Uber specifically, because you’re allowed to be exactly who you are; the company really fosters diversity, and it’s all about the mantra that actually great minds don’t think alike. We’re encouraged to make sure all the cross functional partners are different, and that’s what makes us stronger.
What are the key challenges you’ve faced as a Latin woman in the industry?
Working as a Latina in the UK has been a challenge at times, but at the same time it’s been very rewarding. Like for most professionals working in a different country and culture, one of the challenges is that it can sometimes feel lonely. When I first joined Uber during the pandemic, I was working in a team of more than 30 sales managers and reps, and I was the only non-native English speaker. The situation changed a few months later, but my first reaction was that it would require a lot of effort to find friends and build relationships.
The other big challenge is imposter syndrome; my role involved presenting to audiences of over 30 people multiple times per week from day one, and it was daunting. I really had to think about who I was and the value I could bring to the company, and to teach myself to ignore that imposter syndrome that was always kicking in.
But it’s also brought advantages. I would say that coming from another country has allowed me to really connect with different stakeholders and to understand different cultures. That’s helped me to not only have an impact in the UK, but also with other Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) countries and regions across the world.
What’s being done to improve female representation in tech, and how can we encourage more women to enter the field?
Women are definitely still underrepresented in senior leadership positions in the industry, but I’ve seen a marked effort to change this, and I think it’s moving in the right direction. There are so many more communities out there for women in tech and leadership roles now than there were six or seven years ago; it’s clear there’s an ongoing change.
I think it’s really important to have a collaborative environment for women to meet other like-minded women. I’m a member of several different female communities; these include Women@Uber, Latinas in Tech (LIT) and the Allbright Club. During the pandemic, I also joined the LIT Europe Chapter, organising online networking events and workshops to help connect Latinas in London during a difficult time. After the MBA, it was a challenge for me to find somewhere to work that would allow me to be completely myself, so representing other Latinas in London has become an important objective for me.
You began mentoring during the MBA – how can mentors help support women in tech?
My mother and grandmother were both LATAM leaders and an inspiration for many women in the healthcare and audiology industries, so they were mentors and role models for me. But across my 10 years of professional experience, I really struggled to find other female mentors.
I became a mentor during my MBA year in Cambridge, and it really opened my eyes to the value that could be shared in mentor to mentee relationships. Once I finished, I made a deliberate effort to network with different women in tech. Then when I joined Uber, my manager advised me to have coffee chats with different women across the organisation, and it developed from there.
I find the most fulfilling times of my day are when I’m coaching and mentoring other women – it’s really rewarding to know you’re helping others achieve their goals, and at the same time I learn so much from their experience.
What advice would you give to other women considering a career in tech?
My biggest piece of advice would be to work hard and trust yourself. Find a hiring manager that will support your growth, and a company that will allow you to be yourself. It’s also important to connect with people you find interesting, and don’t shy away from your personality to try to ‘fit in’. It’s more important to be real.
What impact did the Cambridge MBA have on your career, and how have you progressed since graduating in 2019?
My career has progressed very quickly since 2019. During the MBA, I gained crucial skills around stakeholder management, decision-making and communication, as well as how to interview for a tech role. But what I feel changed the most was the feeling of empowerment – understanding who I am, where I’m going and how I want to get there. Joining the Cambridge MBA made me realise that everything I aspired to was possible, and that I could achieve it. Applying for the MBA programme was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made – I knew it was going to change my life, and it did.