Name: Rocio Cardenas-Martin
Hometown: Fort Worth, TX
Current Title: Manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP
Professional Experience: 4.5 years at Deloitte, 5 years at McMaster-Carr
Education: B.A. of Political Science, Stanford University; MBA from University of Michigan
What is the greatest lesson you've learned in your career thus far?
There is rarely a "perfect" answer and most often a thoughtful approach and willingness to figure it out will get you where you need to be. Being thoughtful requires you to be prepared and to be confident in your instincts and abilities. Willingness to "figure it out" shows drive, intellectual curiosity, and commitment. Those characteristics are sought by employers, team members, and clients. Additionally, demonstrating these characteristics consistently, positions well you for stretch roles, which improve your career trajectory and keep you growing professionally.
What has been your greatest professional failure to date and what have you learned from that experience?
Reflecting on my failures, I would say each felt like the greatest in the moment they occurred, so it’s hard to pinpoint just one. Let’s just say I’ve had my fair share of chances to eat some humble pie. That said, the lesson that really stands out is that you have to be ready to move on. The realization of failure can be all-consuming, but with time you realize that you have to keep moving forward. You will fail again and you have to develop the resilience to not let those setbacks hold you back from trying again or from having the courage to switch paths.
What issues have you dealt with being a person of color in corporate America and how have you overcome these challenges?
It took some time for me to realize that success is not determined solely by hard work. Hard work is part of the success equation but your network plays a much larger role in determining your net worth. Who you know dictates the opportunities you will be considered for and that directly impacts your career trajectory. Like many of my friends, building a network with more than just hard work was a foreign idea for me and it made me very uncomfortable. To those reading this who share that discomfort, I will share a simple piece of advice I was once given, “You can’t see what matters most to an organization when your head is always down. You have to look up, observe, and connect with people to get involved.”
What resources, professional or personal, have you leveraged to ensure your career is progressing?
I try to keep a good balance of resources to help me progress my career. From a professional perspective, I identify the key initiatives or skills I want to focus on and target opportunities within the firm, including formal trainings or making requests to take on new roles with clients. From a personal perspective, I go to my personal board of directors and get the perspectives I need from people who truly know me and will give me unfiltered opinions. Everyone should have a group of people they rely on, which I call my board of directors, to help them navigate the good and difficult times at work.
Do you have mentor? If so, how did you select this person or people?
I have several mentors, people who I have developed a connection with and who I look to for guidance. However, for career success, it is critical to have a sponsor, someone who is senior to you and has power in your organization. A sponsor uses his or her brand to advocate for you. Unlike providing advice, sponsorship carries risk for the sponsor and is therefore harder to earn. I have a sponsor who has made a significant impact on my career trajectory. My first step in earning this sponsorship was delivering consistently good work. This helped us establish trust. The second was identifying ways to help this person push forward initiatives outside of just my core responsibilities. Now that I have the this sponsorship, I make sure I keep earning it by continuing to deliver.
What advice would you give a young adult who is about to start their first job post college
Strive to bloom where you're planted. Your education gives you a content base to work from but it will not fully prepare you for your job. You will have to learn from experience, failure, and success. Appreciate the range of experiences made available to you, even if you haven’t chosen them. It will likely be the first time in your life that you do not have a predetermined milestone in front of you. Take advantage of those opportunities and be open to exploring and changing paths. If you had asked me at 22 if I could see myself working for Deloitte and enjoying it, I would have said, “never.” Yet here I am, 10 years later.