Cloudflare TV

Womenflare Presents: Unfiltered

Presented by Hady Mendez, Anna Astakhishvili
Originally aired on 

This week we’ll be talking to Hady Mendez, the Global Lead for Latinflare, Cloudflare’s Latinx Employee Resource Group (ERG). Hady will be sharing how Latinflare got started, what they are up to these days, and her vision for the group. Join us as we take in some of the history of Latinflare and learn more about the person who founded this ERG.


Transcript (Beta)

🎵 All right, we are live.

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's episode of Women Flare.

I am Anna. I'll be the host today and with me I have Hady Mendez who I'm excited to talk to and introduce you to all of you.

Just before we quickly dive in into the questions that I'm going to be asking Hady, I want to give you a quick little reminder of what Women Flare is and what are these episodes.

Women Flare is an ERG at Cloudflare.

We are here to elevate and inspire everyone who identifies themselves as a woman.

And the unfiltered series is specifically here to bring in topics about career development, personal growth, advancement stories, mentoring lessons learned, and kind of how some of the stories that sometimes are left behind or not elevated enough.

So on that note, let's dive into Hady. Hady, tell us about you.

What lights you up at Cloudflare? What do you do at Cloudflare and what do you do outside of Cloudflare?

Tell us about you. Hi Anna and hello to the audience.

Happy Latinx Heritage Month. It's still, that's still something I can say till like the end of next week.

It is a pleasure to be here. So thanks for Women Flare for inviting me.

And it's the first time, this is like maybe the 20th time I'm on Cloudflare TV, but it's the first time that I'm actually being interviewed.

So Anna, thanks for like inviting me.

I appreciate it. Like you said, I am a CSM. I'm a customer success manager.

I'm based out of our New York City office. And so, you know, I love working with customers.

I love helping them solve their security and performance issues.

I like talking about our products and services and seeing how we, you know, we can help to make our customers' lives easier and, you know, get them to improve their performance and security.

So that's my day job. I guess my other day job.

That's my primary day job. My secondary one is that I am a huge proponent of diversity, equity and inclusion.

I am the global lead for Latin Flare, which is Cloudflare's ERG for Latinx employees.

And so that's a big job for me.

I've been doing it for about a year. I pretty much am working all day, every day, trying to uncover new ways to increase diversity, to make the workplace more inclusive, to try to make things more fair, to try to give people more access.

To me, it's really important work, which is why like I'm super passionate about it.

Um, yeah.

So that's what I do at Cloudflare. Did you ask me what I do outside of Cloudflare?

You covered what you did here. And it's obvious you're so passionate about that.

But I know you're also passionate about the things that you do outside of it.

So I want to hear about that, too. Yeah. So, I mean, I would say this notion of or this passion for diversity, equity and inclusion just kind of extends past what I do at work.

So when I'm not at work, I'm still doing very similar things.

So I'm part, I'm a mentor in the Women Who Create Mentorship Program.

And I have a young student. She's part of University of Pennsylvania. She's a, I think she's a junior.

I'm pretty sure she's a junior, but she might be a senior. I forget.

I know she's starting to apply for internships. Actually, I think she's a junior.

And she's so smart. And I'm really enjoying being a mentor. Um, and then, you know, I'm interested in being a part of a nonprofit.

I just interviewed probably about two weeks ago with a nonprofit that works with underrepresented women and trying to educate them and inform them more about like financial literacy.

And that's like something that like I really feel strongly about, too.

So I hope I, I hope I get invited to be part of that board because I would love to be part of it.

Oh, best of luck there. I, I know for sure you'd be a great asset to any board, especially something that a cause you truly care about.

And obviously, mentoring is one of them and financial literacy combined the two.

Um, let's go back to the Latin component of your life.

That is huge part of your life and a lot of people who are tuning in probably right now from Cloudflare know you from that organization because you're such a lead.

But that didn't just happen without the hard work. You started somewhere.

So I'm curious if we could go back in time. When did you decide that you wanted to lead Latin flare and kind of how has the organization being formed and evolved over time.

Sure. So, good question. I've always been part of employee resource groups or affinity groups, I would say, like, you know, almost all of my career.

I will tell you that I entered Cloudflare not necessarily having that expectation out of the gate, but they did talk about it during orientation and they told us that About the different employee resource groups.

And then I was like, Oh, well, yeah, naturally I'm going to join the next one.

So, um, It turns out that they weren't quite a formed room yet.

They were more of a chat room.

So there was like some communication and community, but it wasn't really like full blown out Employee Resource Group.

So we had a little work to do.

But like I connected with people I talked to them about like What were they hoping for.

So, and it was really weird because I was the new person, but I went in.

I went into the chat room and just started asking questions. Where were people from trying to like connect dots.

Understand what they were interested in and who was maybe interested in stepping up and taking the leadership role.

And once I kind of got the lay of the land, it kind of things moved very quickly.

So I was saying just a few months.

We were getting ready for Latinx Heritage Month last year, which is when we launched.

We launched on October 1 of 2019 And, you know, we had all our regional needs in place.

We kicked off talking about the Latinx business at Cloudflare, which is an exciting business and it was a very nice topic to start off with.

Mostly because a lot of our members actually work in the LATAM team.

So like there's a natural connection there. And then since then, you know, we've grown in size.

We have, you know, probably over 100 members, but obviously not everyone is equally as active.

But, you know, we try to engage people as much as possible.

We have like cafecito breaks. We just had one actually earlier today and that one's like it's just like an open floor for people to come and talk and connect We've done like this spotlight on Latino excellence series where we like spotlight different employees around the organization.

So that's been kind of cool.

And then this year for Latinx Month, we had like A wide variety of programming.

We had our last event yesterday. So yesterday we interviewed Unidos Now, which is a participant of Project Galileo and that was really nice.

We had someone from our London office do that interview. It was really nicely done.

And we did it on Cloudflare TV, which is, as you know, like this is our platform.

So it's like nice to get our name and talk to people and like share good stories on this platform.

So that was really nice. And then another cool thing we did this year that we didn't do last year was We actually connected with a boot camp called Full Stack Academy right here in New York City and we did a career panel for them.

And so we had like a variety of people, some engineers and people from recruiting, myself, Other members from other ERGs and we just did a nice like career panel discussion for the graduating class of that boot camp.

So that was really fun.

So I think we're doing as ideas come up. We're like, yeah, let's do that.

Sounds good. That sounds like a year full of programming and activities.

It sounds like it's an ongoing thing. So, so you mentioned that you did the Latinx Heritage Month last year and you did, you know, obviously you organize it again this year.

How would you say are the two different like What were some of the lessons learned the first time you did it last year and what did you maybe add this year or surprised you that you said, oh, like this is definitely like a new chapter in the celebration.

Yeah, I would say there's a couple things that we did different.

One is last year we only did one event like Like there was a main event and we kind of did it on purpose.

We didn't want to take on too much.

So we said, let's just do one event and let's do that event.

Well, this year we had Like four events that were public and then we had the fifth one, which was that career panel.

So we expanded our reach this year significantly.

The other thing is that last year, like I said, we focus on the Latin business and it was really kind of celebrating Latinidad, you know, like kind of what kind of The common characteristics that we all share.

That's really what we focus on.

And this year we did that. And then we expanded it to also talk more about diversity, equity and inclusion and that's because You know, this year, there's been a lot, a lot of attention on racial tension and, you know, Black Lives Matter and just like You know, companies really are trying to do more around diversity, equity and inclusion and we want to be part of that and we want to almost lead the way and say, well, you know, this is really important.

It affects us.

So we're happy to, you know, be kind of Lead the conversations, you know, in some cases, we're going to be not only leading but being, you know, participants in the conversation.

But the idea is that it's an opportunity to continue to move the needle around diversity, equity and inclusion.

And we didn't want to miss it. So we use Latinx Heritage Month to do that as well.

So celebrate our Latinidad And continue to move the needle around diversity, equity and inclusion.

Those were our two main focuses this year.

And that's what made it very, very different from last year.

Yeah, it does sound like it because it has both components. They reflect the celebratory piece, which was The same and then the component of reflection and deep thinking and sharing of those and obviously like you mentioned with the recent events that is so critical to create more spaces that will allow that because We all need to unfold in safe places and it's amazing that you created that and that you expanded the event so much.

Yeah. And one other thing that we did to this year is we got a lot more people involved.

So last year, we only had the one event.

So it was like, you know, a couple people and And that was it. And this year we had so many more events.

So a lot, a lot of new faces, a lot of people that had an opportunity to try You know, hosting an event, being the facilitator, moderating, being part of a panel.

We included non-Latinx people in our during the activities that we had during the month, too, because if we're talking about diversity, equity, inclusion is not just about us.

So I feel like We took it to definitely another level.

And I'm very satisfied and happy with Kind of our programming and I know, you know, we need to do more.

And we're going to continue to do more.

We're thinking about things, as you know, I was telling you off camera some things that we have planned.

So I think we're always thinking about what more we could be doing.

Yeah, thank you for that. Yeah, I know I have a little sneak peek because we got to chat a couple times before we went live.

We went into the disco.

So, so all of that you continue to lead and do and grow these organizations.

And as that happens.

And as you grow more members of the team. You mentioned the global growth as well.

I'm wondering what are some of the reflections. Do you have done internally.

What are some of the things you learned and how did, how did, how has your leadership style been in the past.

And has it shaped or change at all with, you know, your involvement with Latin flair.

Yeah, so, um, my leadership style is definitely like I like including more people.

I don't like to be exclusive. I like to be inclusive.

So I know that about myself and I think that was one thing, like I said, mentioned earlier that we did different we tried to include more people and I feel like if anybody had an idea I was like, great, let's do it.

You know, and you run with it, you know, so I'll kind of facilitate and kind of get wheels in motion, but you run with it.

And I feel like, you know, that's really important if people are going to give their ideas is really important for us to listen to it and give people, you know, like you said amplify their voice and give them the space to to do what they got to do and kind of for them to grow and shine as well.

But yeah, I've also learned over the last 12 months I think that this, this notion of diversity, equity and inclusion really gives me life like it's really something that I am passionate about.

I love it. I love being an ERG lead. I enjoy coming up with programming that is impactful like I don't want to just do it, you know, just to do it.

I want to make a difference and And I enjoy meeting other people who are looking to do the same thing.

I've met so many wonderful people in other ERGs and throughout the company that have that same passion and like it's, it's life giving to be around these people and to know that, you know, we're all working towards this common cause.

I think that's very rewarding. Obviously, like creating a space where people, you know, like a community for people to feel like they belong and that they're valued.

That's really important to me. I know that I would want that for myself.

And so I do my best to create a space for people, you know, so they feel like, oh, you're here.

Great. I mean, there's so many people that have reached out to me on LinkedIn that, you know, for whatever reason, they're following me or they're connected to me and they'll ask me about what it's like to work here.

And some of those people are Latinx. So I get an opportunity to talk about Latin flair, even before people join and often, you know, people, you know, I find are like, oh, wow, like, that's awesome.

I'm so excited that if I join, I already have like a home base.

So it's nice to be part of like being able to share that with people who are considering working here.

But, um, yeah, I mean, my hope for the, for, you know, as an ERG lead, my hope is like really that our Latinx employees feel like they have a place where they belong and they have a community and where they can bring their, their whole self like, you know, that, that, um, yeah, you know, sometimes there's like these little things that are special about different groups and, you know, um, if we were all in the same place, I think, um, one thing about Latinx people is we're very warm and friendly.

And, um, I think, you know, we'd all be like, kind of hugging and like eating together and drinking coffee together.

I don't know something that I think we do a lot of stuff around food.

But anyway, um, we can do that, right? Because we're all working from home.

So I think it's nice still that we create the space where people feel comfortable.

And even if they're getting together virtually, that they still feel that warmth and that like familiar, the familiarity and that sense of familia that that Latin player brings to our community.

So that's really important to me.

Oh, absolutely. That is a, that is a spirit that I think, you know, the, of connection, um, where you, where you feel connected, you feel safe, creativity flows, sense of purpose flows.

It's, it's there. It is... Absolutely.

So let me ask you something.

Um, if someone's tuning in right now, whether live or, you know, after the fact, like, listening to the talk, what would you say to them?

Yeah, I mean, the truth is that, first of all, there couldn't be more than one ERG that could be your home base.

So there's, you know, just acknowledging that there are, there are, you know, many ERGs here at Cloudflare that kind of, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you know, are, you but I feel an affiliation with both.

But anyway, we're not talking about me.

So talking about the advice for other people, I would say there's a lot of ERGs to choose from.

Go to different events and see kind of who you're vibing with.

I think vibe is very important. Like, you know, you're gonna find your tribe to the extent that there is like a good vibe.

And I just made that up, you know, forgive me for being corny, but I do think that has a lot to do with it.

And then just acknowledge there might be several groups that kind of really resonate with you or maybe fulfill or like address different parts of who you are.

And so like, don't limit yourself, like just really be open and explore your options.

And know also that if you happen to be like a cisgender white male and you're like, oh, I guess the ERGs aren't for me.

I would argue that they are for you and know that we welcome, I think all of the ERGs equally welcome, you know, everybody.

Everybody's welcome. And to the extent that you're all about like learning and celebrating and enjoying and creating space and amplifying and, you know, being a good ally, you are very welcome in those spaces with us.

So just know that too. Like it's not exclusive.

Yeah, thank you for saying that. And I think it is so important to keep emphasizing that these ERGs, even though they are those platforms for raising the voices and they are the platforms of, they're also for advocates.

So thank you for reiterating that.

And yes, that's definitely a call to action. All right.

So come, spotlight back to you and the Latin Flare. Tell us about your vision.

You've completed, you know, the big milestone of the year with a month. I mean, it's still going on a little bit, but the major events have ended.

What's your vision?

What do you hope for? Yeah, so I think one thing is we're definitely gonna move in the direction that the company moves in.

So I think it's really important that to the degree the company is making changes to their priorities or developing new goals around diversity, equity and inclusion, or, you know, reprioritizing anything.

We're gonna kind of go step and step, you know, with them because it's really important for us to be, you know, change agents and to be people who the company can rely on to help with whether it be employee engagement, retention, recruiting, whatever the case might be, we're gonna be there to support those efforts.

In addition, I think it's really important that we focus on the advancement of Latinx employees.

So, you know, when I think about the people that I represent, that's something that people have a lot of concerns about.

They want to feel appreciated and valued.

They wanna know that the organization is seeing the contributions that they're making.

And they wanna know that the company is gonna celebrate and recognize it in a meaningful way.

You know, what's the most meaningful way you could be celebrated for your contributions is by being promoted and advancing.

So that's really important. So one of the things we are going to be doing with the other ERGs is we're doing this leveling up series and it's gonna feature underrepresented leaders from across the organization.

And the idea is that they're gonna be sharing their career journey.

They're gonna be sharing kind of, you know, roadblocks, obstacles, blind spots, you know, whatever they experienced that was maybe a hardship or something that they learned a lesson from.

They're gonna be sharing that with us in the hopes that we're gonna be able to learn from their experience.

So they're gonna be sharing things that hopefully we can say, oh, are you serious?

Like, that's what's happening to me. Maybe, you know, that's an area that I need to really pay attention to and maybe make some changes.

And I think lots of times too, I've discovered that it's not like we're like so broken or so messed up.

Like, sometimes we don't get promoted or the opportunity is not, we don't get the opportunities that maybe we deserve for a circumstance.

Like, there's a lot of circumstances that can contribute to that.

And also it could just be like one little thing that we need to do just a little bit differently.

And like, that makes all the difference.

And I feel like, you know, us having the opportunity to just understand those nuances is gonna go a long way.

So I'm really excited for our members and I'm excited for the leaders who are gonna be participating in that series.

Wow, yeah, that sounds incredible.

I look forward to that. I'm looking at the time and I could keep talking to you, but I think, you know, with the time that we have left, I want to also cover your involvement with organizations outside of Latin Flare.

And I know there's big part of your life as well.

So let's dive into that one. What other organizations do you work with and what are some of the most important and excited things that you are excited to accomplish there with that involvement?

Sure, so I am part of a number of professional organizations outside of Cloudflare.

Some of them are Latinas in Tech. Tequeria is another one. Women Who Create, that's the mentorship program I'm a part of.

Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers, which I was part of even as a student.

Alpha and probably a few others.

So these are all, mostly those are all Latinx organizations. And I try to be part of them, one, because I feel comfortable in those spaces, right?

That's one very obvious reason why.

But also, because I want to kind of keep my ear to the ground and make sure that I'm paying attention to the issues that are common across Latinx.

And that's like the value that I can bring back to LatinFlair. So I want to know what's happening in our community, not just within Cloudflare, but in tech more broadly, or just in business and corporate more broadly.

And those organizations give me the lens and the insight that makes me be better as a global lead for LatinFlair.

Yeah, and my hope is that I actually get to be, serve on one of the boards for one of these organizations in the future.

That's really kind of what I'm hoping for myself.

I think it'll be a nice step forward for me. And yeah, and just allow me to do more of what I do, but in a more committed way.

Like I'd be interested in doing that.

Yeah. Oh, I so wish you best of luck and I hope that you'll find your right match.

Serving on a board is, it will probably will be very rewarding for you because you will get to now see it from all different angles, you know?

And so I look forward to you experiencing that soon. Yeah, I think you're right.

And that is kind of the beauty. Like sometimes, you know, I spend a lot of time hands-on and being part of a board would kind of, I would step away and be more, you know, concerned with like vision and like high level and how would we make this more sustainable?

And that's interesting to me too. So that's like a different hat, but that's also something I'm interested in.

That is something to look forward to.

And maybe we'll have you again as a guest when you become a board member on one of the nonprofits and then we'll have you back and see what is it like to serve in that role.

Before we go too far ahead, I want to also ask you, because you're such a diverse person in terms of the things you do outside of Cloudflare, all the organizations you're part of.

And I also know that you have some cool hobbies.

And so with that, what is the last thing that you have really geeked about and you still do and involved in?

Yeah, actually. So for those of you who are not Cloudflare employees, you probably don't know that we have a fun fact at Cloudflare and where when we first joined the company, we share something, you know, kind of interesting about ourselves.

And so my fun fact was that I am an amateur, underscore bold letters on that one.

And I'm a street art photographer.

So more like I just love taking pictures of street art is how I would say it.

And I've taken pictures of street art all over the world. So I used to live in South America.

I was an international volunteer in South America for two years.

And I took lots of pictures in Brazil, in Argentina, in Bolivia, which is where I lived, in Peru.

And then, you know, Puerto Rico, which is like where my family is from.

I've taken pictures there, which the street art there is incredible, like really, really good.

And then, you know, being based out of New York City, New York City is, I don't know who we're number one.

I think a lot of people would say we're number one.

And, you know, I want to say we're number one, but we might not be.

But we're certainly in the top three of like, New York City is like top three street art in the world for sure.

With, you know, I'm thinking of like the UK is really good and some other places in the world have really good street art too.

But it's just, I love it.

Like, it's just like, it gives me life. It's, you know, I started taking pictures a long time ago.

So I would say, gosh, I lived in South America in 2014.

So it's been at least six years that I've been taking pictures. And, you know, I have like a lot of favorite artists.

So I'll take pictures of like what they do.

Cause you know, like usually it's a style that I like. Street art is incredibly related to social justice.

Like there's a lot of social justice in street art.

And so I think that is another part that really appeals to me. Most street artists that I've met are very, they match my style in terms of their outlook with as it relates to social justice and liberal ideas and being inclusive and diverse.

And so like, I just really like the people behind it.

Yeah, and so almost every weekend, it's like a little bit of an addiction.

And there, anyway, it is kind of another addiction.

I go every week and I take pictures of street art. And if I wasn't working every day, I would probably be taking pictures of street art every day.

That is the truth. I love that. I love it. You're out of Vienna. I love it.

I think it's so cool because it truly, it does represent voices of people. And so it just fits your personality and what you're all about so well.

And compliments it so well in the visual artistic way.

And I just really wanted you to cover that because I know that makes you unique, one more layer of your uniqueness.

Thank you so much for this wonderful conversation. This was an unfiltered conversation as part of the Unfiltered series.

I still look forward to the future ones.

I cannot wait to have you back again as a guest in the upcoming episodes.

For those of you who are tuning in and are looking forward to next episodes or want to get involved, please let us know.

We're open for ideas. This is truly unfiltered conversation.

So any topic is welcome. We're focusing on advancement and personal stories and self -development growth.

But if you have ideas and you're curious and you are enthusiastic, please do reach out and we'll get something coordinated.

So thank you all for tuning in. Have a nice day. Anna, should we play more music?

Let's play more music. We have two minutes, maybe for like the next minute or 30 seconds, we'll play a little music.

Let's do it.

All right, Anna likes dancing. So be where everybody is. So do you. Okay, bye Anna.

Bye, thank you. Bye.