Cloudflare TV

Mentorflare: Road to Success with Latinflare

Presented by Ellie Jamison
Originally aired on 

Mentorflare is a virtual series of discussions with leaders at Cloudflare and guests in the technology industry. The sole purpose for Mentorflare is to provide mentorship to students that we were unable to offer an internship this summer. Cloudflare cares deeply about students that have been challenged due to the current health and economic climate and want to empower these students by sharing our resources.


Transcript (Beta)

Hi everyone, thank you so much for tuning in live. My name is Ellie Jamison. I work on the recruiting team here at Cloudflare and I've been here for about almost two years and so I'm really excited.

We have our seventh installment of MentorFlare today.

If you've never seen MentorFlare before, it is a virtual series of discussions with different leaders at Cloudflare.

The whole purpose of MentorFlare is to provide mentorship to students that may be watching, people that are interested in learning about Cloudflare, staying connected with industry leaders, and also learning about future opportunities here at Cloudflare.

So in this segment, I'm very excited.

We have four different leaders that are members of Latinflare, which is our employee resource group for Latinx Cloudflare employees.

We've titled this segment Road to Success with Latinflare and they'll each talk about their success stories and their careers as well as their backgrounds.

And so before this episode, we asked about 1500 students questions and so they've submitted a bunch of questions and we've selected our most favorite.

So we'll finish with that after the segment, but I think we can start with everybody introducing themselves.

So with that, Hadi, we can start with you. Awesome, thanks, Ellie.

Hey everybody, I am Hadi and I am a customer success manager here at Cloudflare.

I am very happy to be here today to talk to you and to share a little about my story.

As someone from an underrepresented group, I feel it's really important to share my journey because everyone needs to feel like they're included in conversations like these.

So I'm hoping, hopeful, that my story might help to influence a next step that someone that is currently viewing this segment decides to take.

And if I'm able to improve the trajectory of someone's career by sharing my own experiences, then I am really grateful for that opportunity.

So really, thank you so much for having us and for having me in particular.

A little about me, I am a New York Rican, born and bred in Brooklyn, New York.

I am the youngest of four sisters.

I love street art and I am an amateur photographer. I studied computer information systems when I was in college and I minored in religious studies.

And I feel that even back then, that combination I think was an indication of really what the rest of my life would be like.

I feel that I have always enjoyed technology, but it's not enough for me.

I guess I'm curious. I like people.

I'm passionate about social justice and equality and inclusion. I feel like I've always needed to have more than just tech in my life.

So I feel like even when I was in college, that was the case.

As far as past internships go, as a student, I held two different internship positions over the four years that I was in college.

So one position for two years and then another position for two years. So I worked every summer that I was in school, including the one before I started college.

So in my first internship experience, I partnered with an organization called Inroads.

Some of you might be familiar with them. If not, look them up,

And I was part of the Inroads New York City affiliate and I worked at a company called Prudential Realty Group, which is an affiliate of Prudential, which you'll probably have heard of.

That was a really long time ago. I didn't really do much in the way of tech work when I had my first internship.

Just there wasn't a lot to do.

And I don't think they were like really prepared for me.

I think internships were like, I don't want to say they were a new thing, but they didn't really have a lot for me to do.

So, but what I did learn was a lot about what corporate America was like.

I had an MBA student at the time that was my mentor and he was great.

He checked in with me a lot. He took me out to lunch and he just made sure that I was like really comfortable in getting answers.

Coming from like a background where my parents didn't go to college, my parents actually, neither of them graduated from high school.

So I didn't have like this background of like, I knew what to expect going into corporate America.

It really was fresh and brand new and a very different experience for me.

So it was very helpful to have someone kind of guided me through that process.

In addition, inroads held workshops on the weekends.

And so, so I think I learned a lot of what kind of how to be a professional through the workshops that inroads sponsored.

So, and I really learned a lot like to develop as a professional and I learned about myself and how to like network and connect with other people through that experience.

Because my internship experience was not super challenging, I decided that I, to apply for like a different internship program.

And I ended up working at a company called Bell Communications Research, also known as Bellcore, for the last two years of my college experience.

And I met like amazing people.

It was a big program and we had students from like historically Black colleges and universities.

We had students from the University of Puerto Rico there.

It was a program for underrepresented people and they did also, they also provided us a lot of workshop and coaching and it was great.

I worked for a psychologist who studied user interface design and I really liked that because it just wasn't a tech role, but it included looking at how people interacted with technology and kind of already having told you a little bit about my background where tech is just not enough for me.

I felt that was like a really good fit and I learned a lot.

I even got a job offer from them when I graduated from school, which I decided not to take because I decided to join a consulting company instead and I have no regrets there.

Lastly, I just wanted to share a little bit about LatinFlare.

As you know, everyone on this panel is currently a member of LatinFlare and we are Cloudflare's Latinx ERG.

We're a fairly new ERG.

We just started last year. We launched in October actually last year. So the mission of LatinFlare is to help people create, is to help, is to help create a more diverse workplace at Cloudflare, create a sense of community and belonging for Latinx employees, and also to connect with the communities where we work.

So I feel we definitely have gone a long way in accomplishing and working towards that mission over the last 10 months and we are now starting to plan events and activities for our next, for our second Latinx Heritage Month at Cloudflare, which is going to start on September 15th.

So there's a lot of really cool stuff in the works and if you would like to like kind of stay informed, I think most of our events are going to be public so they'll be accessible to everyone that's in the viewing audience today.

You should follow me on LinkedIn or just tune into Cloudflare TV because that's where our events are most likely going to be made available for you to attend.

So thanks, I'm really happy to be here today and I'm going to pass it on to Gabby.

Hey guys, thanks Hattie for that intro.

I'm a Customer Success Manager here in our San Francisco office and I've been with Cloudflare for a year now, just had my one year in June.

I'm also the youngest of four children, I don't think we've spoken about that similarity Hattie, but yes and I'm originally from Los Angeles, so came here for undergrad and definitely have no regrets.

San Francisco is my home now, but I'm really happy to be here and talk with MentorFlare to hopefully shed some light on my experiences.

While I attended University of San Francisco, I developed many friendships with individuals in the tech space and was really deeply inspired by their journeys.

While I initially thought that these roles were really unattainable because I don't have a CS background, their diverse stories really instilled confidence in me, so hopefully my story can help shed some light to some of you listening today.

So a little bit about my background, like I said I'm originally from Los Angeles and like many there probably I dreamed of working in the movie industry actually initially, so through a chance encounter with George Lopez, I was actually offered an internship on his short-lived but inspiring talk show called Lopez Tonight and you know while that was a really fun experience, it also was very informative for me as far as next steps in my career.

I was chatting with individuals on the production team and really didn't find that those roles had a lot of job security, so while those roles are very fun, the pragmatic side of me really didn't find any sort of future in those roles, so my interest in that field sort of dwindled a little bit after that.

So that experience also inspired me to transfer university outside of Los Angeles as I already had a glimpse of the entertainment industry and wanted to really see what else was out there, so I chose to attend the University of San Francisco, majored in psychology and really loved the intimate learning experience that came from a private university with smaller class sizes.

And then as far as my journey with LatinSquare, when I started CloudSquare last June, really one of the first people to virtually introduce themselves to me was Hattie and I really so appreciated just her warm welcome and extending me not only welcome into CloudSquare but also to the LatinSquare side of CloudSquare.

So that just really wanted, inspired me to create an open space where I could do that for others because in my last role I was one of three people of color in the office, so I can really appreciate the struggle that many people face as far as finding like-minded individuals that can share your experiences and really know a little bit about your journey and having that comfort of family as well within the office space is really just important.

So with that, I'm going to go ahead and pass it over to Nadine.

Thanks Gabby. Hi everyone, it's really great to be here today.

I'm an engineer in the security team here at Cloudflare.

I really wanted to be a part of this segment for MentorFlare because when I did my internships in college, I really felt like the people that I met there played an important role in guiding me through my current career and so it was important to me to just like be here and you know give whatever experience I have on to other people who are also navigating that time in their life.

And a little bit about me, I'm originally from Mexico City. I'm actually half Lebanese and half Mexican and I came to the Bay Area only about seven years ago to study at Stanford and really at the time I had no idea what the tech world was.

I didn't really understand what Silicon Valley was. I didn't know what coding was and so you know when I was in college I really tried to explore different paths and I took it as a time to learn more about what I was curious about and I really tried to make sure to take classes in different departments and so I started off being a physics major and then actually ended up doing a math major in the end and even though I did that, I actually took more computer science classes than math classes.

So you know I was kind of just like going around trying to figure out like what inspired me and what made me feel happy and then I also took a lot of classes outside of STEM.

I took classes in music and education and literature and yeah I think kind of like Hadi said I always felt like tech is great and it builds one part of my brain but there's a whole other part of my personality and my brain that I also like to think about and outside of work I really like listening to podcasts and hiking and cooking so that's a little bit about me and some of my past internships.

I had a couple of internships while I was in college.

Most of them were pretty short but I was a software engineer intern at two small startups where I mostly did front-end development and these were a really great way for me to just build something and it felt very satisfying to create something that other people would use.

I was also a technology consultant at PwC in their cyber security branch and this internship was very different from my previous internships being a engineer because it was more focused on socializing security within an organization and helping set up different processes to ensure we had the security that we needed but it helped me learn a lot about being a professional about networking within this company and ultimately I think I learned a lot about myself especially I think I learned that being a consultant was not what I wanted to do and I think that that's actually like a great thing that internships can give you an opportunity to explore one type of career and even if you find out it's not what you want like you've already gained some great experience there.

For me being a part of Latin Flare is really important here at Cloudflare I think because it provides a community that helps me connect my work life with my culture.

I think when you're part of a minority group it makes a huge difference to know that there are people who come from a background similar to yours and who might be struggling with some of the same things like working in their second language or navigating cultural differences and other experiences like that so I'm really happy to be here with other members of Latin Flare and I'll pass it on to Pablo now.

All right thanks Nadine. So my name is Pablo Vieira. I'm originally from Argentina and I'm an account executive for the North American market here in San Francisco but when I started at Cloudflare I was covering Latin America so now it's another new experience for me.

I'm glad to be here at Mental Flare because to be honest when you're in school you have no idea what to do after school and if you have those doubts you're not the only one.

We all went through that and so I think it's good to create these spaces where you can just talk to different people and realize that what you're feeling is not only yourself but other people went through the same path.

Not all the people have the answers so I think that this kind of space to have conversations with different people that are a little bit older than you will give you a good example of what's out there and what path you can follow.

A little bit about my background. Again I'm from Argentina.

I came here to the US only five years ago but I started working when I was 19 and I was studying at the same time.

Latin America in general is a little bit different than the United States meaning that if you're a student sometimes you need to work.

It's not that you can focus 100% in your studies so sometimes the reality is a little bit hard.

So when I started studying I was also working at the non-profit.

I was 19 at the time and my experience is very diverse. I worked for a non-profit and then I created my own business when I was 21.

I was still studying and it was hard to create a company while studying and sometimes you ask yourself should I stop studying?

Should I leave my studies and just focus on my business?

And that's something that if you want to create your own company that's a bet that you have to do right because even if you're trying to create your own business it doesn't mean that you're going to be successful and sometimes when you leave your studies some people cannot go back.

So I'm glad that I never stopped studying.

It was super hard for me to work in my own company and then continue studying.

It was from 5 a.m in the morning to midnight every day for a few years.

I used to have coffee shops when I was in Argentina. I got five coffee shops and then the reality of the country is the economy is not very good so I learned a lot how to navigate a crisis all the time and after five four years we decided to close all those businesses.

So I'm glad that I finished my studies otherwise I will end up with no business and no degree.

I met my wife in Argentina. She's American.

That's the reason why I'm here in the United States. So we met over there and then we decided to come here to the United States.

I started working first being an immigrant in the United States.

Of course it's not easy if you know about the visas and everything so it was hard for me just to come here with a degree and not being able to to work in the United States.

It was very hard so and after when I got my work permit I started working at the Google project for almost two years and then I started working for Klaffler.

I got a friend who was the first CSM. He was Brazilian.

He is Brazilian. He's not at Klaffler anymore but he introduced me to people internally and for me to find this job was just find another Latino let's say inside the company, send a message through LinkedIn asking about the company.

I never worked in tech before and he gave me a hand.

He introduced me to different people and then I got this job.

I started working as the first BDR for Latin America and that was almost two years ago so it was a good run let's say.

What else about internships?

I never got an internship before to be honest because I started working super early and in Argentina it's not very common because you cannot choose.

You have to study, work or just studying work.

It's very hard to have an internship but I got a lot of experience what I was studying because I got my own business.

I was working for non-profits so I cannot give you an example of what to be an internship is like but I can tell you that my first experience working, I can consider that as an internship.

What is important especially for me that I'm an immigrant is you need to find spaces to understand the culture and you need to find spaces where you can meet people that are like you.

Otherwise, you're super lonely to be honest.

I came here you know of course English is not my first language.

I speak Spanish, Portuguese, Italian but English is not my main language let's say and LatinField allowed me to meet other people in the same situation that we share values, that we share language so sometimes when you feel lonely it's good to know that there are other people within the company with the same background.

It was a good way like a safe space where you can find other people and share experiences that maybe other people outside of that group wouldn't understand.

I'm glad that we're part of LatinField. That's a little bit about my experience and I will just hand it to Ellie.

Okay, great. Thank you all so much. I just want to add before we continue how fortunate I feel that you have all been able to share your stories and perspectives with everyone.

I really appreciate it.

Cloudflare is by far the most inclusive and diverse community that I've been a part of and work culture so I just really want to thank you before we're moving on.

Okay, great. So the next topic we'll discuss about is one of our main themes and it's an event of impact in your life.

So with that I think Gabby you can you can start with that one.

Yeah, so I graduated high school in 2009 when the world was still in the throes of the great recession.

So I can definitely relate to the struggle of deciding your next moves during a tumultuous time.

And while I was fortunate to attend a high-performing magnet high school, this also meant that I was a drop in the bucket as far as exemplary students.

So when I wasn't accepted into the universities that I really dreamed of attending, I was faced with the decision of, you know, what's next?

And while I was gutted, I regrouped myself and, you know, was fortunate enough to have this internship and really chose to pursue that opportunity and attended community college at the same time.

So that was really a different path than my siblings had taken and was kind of a risk because there was also many budget cuts happening to the community college system at that time as well.

I definitely recall sitting on the floor of classrooms waiting for people to drop the class because I needed to take that class to, you know, finish my credits within the time that I had, you know, planned.

And, you know, I'm definitely one of those individuals who likes planning my next move.

So this was definitely a difficult time for me.

It's hard to look at your future and really come up blank as far as what's next.

But what I've discovered is that these challenging decisions are really what I look back on as the moments that have shaped my life into who I am today.

Because while I didn't have the traditional college experience, I learned many life lessons and career lessons through this path and really wouldn't change any of the decisions that I've made.

And it's really what I feel led me to this role that I'm on today. So hopefully that can, you know, help you guys have some confidence that just because this is a difficult time doesn't mean it's going to be forever.

And with that, I'm going to pass it over to Nadine again.

Thanks, Gabby. Thanks for sharing your story.

My story is actually about how I became interested in cybersecurity.

And it all started because my junior year of college, I was studying abroad in Madrid.

And I got the opportunity to intern at a think tank while I was there.

And I started off by being sort of a website advisor that came up with suggestions for how to improve the design and the organization of the think tanks website.

But like, to be honest with you, this internship, it didn't seem like they had much work for me.

And it felt like some of my ideas were not heard. And my project was like, not necessarily the most important thing going on at this think tank.

And so I struggled a little bit with finishing this internship. And I thought that maybe a couple times I would quit.

But you know, I got through it. And when I got to the end of this internship, the people I worked with invited me to the next event that the think tank was going to have.

And I wasn't really sure if I wanted to go again, because it wasn't my favorite internship.

But in the end, I thought, okay, well, you know, it's never bad to like, take a new opportunity and see what comes from it.

And so the theme of this event that they were having was actually cybersecurity.

And the goal was that they were going to gather experts in the field.

And they wanted them to talk about what the future of cybersecurity was.

And the think tank was going to publish a report summarizing some of what these experts had talked about.

Honestly, I didn't know anything about cybersecurity at the time.

But I did notice that there were some very important people who were attending this conference.

There was like the head of security at Vodafone, which is a very large British telecommunications company.

And so I thought, I might learn something, I'll go.

So I sat there and listened to what people were saying. And a lot of it went over my head.

But I did understand that many of the people who were in that room were convinced that there were going to be massive challenges in the space of cybersecurity in the future.

And this was just something that made me curious.

And it was like, huh, like, I've definitely heard about something like cryptography before, but I don't really know much about this space.

So I started researching what classes there were in this space in my school.

And I took a couple of, I took a cryptography class, I took a computer security class.

And that's sort of where my interest started.

And then kind of serendipitously, what happened a couple weeks after I attended that conference was that I was applying for my internship at PwC that I mentioned in my intro.

And the case study that they gave me happened to be about cybersecurity.

And it kind of felt like, huh, this is something that's like coming back in my life for some reason.

So we had a couple days to prep for answering this case study.

And I thought, this is a great opportunity to just kind of research and like find out more about this thing that I've been hearing about.

And yeah, I went kind of all out and had a lot of prep work that I had done.

And when I did my interview question, I think I really impressed the interviewer because they ended up putting me in the cybersecurity branch of PwC when I think the original idea was that I would be somewhere else.

So I guess this is just to say that you never know like where you're going to find something that could become your future career.

And I think it's really important to follow your curiosity.

And it's important to take any opportunities that you're given.

And even if sometimes your internship doesn't turn out to be what you wanted it to be, there's still opportunities to find something and to learn something from the people that are that's around you.

So yeah, that's my story.

And I'll pass it over to Ellie. No, that is, those are great lessons. And I really appreciate both your stories.

I had a quick question for Nadine. What was the learning curve like?

Because I think a lot of us that are in the security world now and being at Cloudflare had never really heard of a lot of the terms and just, you know, the whole background of cybersecurity.

So what was it like coming from there?

And then now being like a security engineer? Yeah, it's hasn't been easy.

That's for sure. There's a lot of things to learn when it comes to security. And I think I started off, like I said, just taking a few classes.

And it seemed like something that I wanted to focus my career on.

But I definitely for, you know, I definitely had to be in a lot of spaces where I wasn't sure what people were talking about.

And I still feel like I'm in those spaces. Sometimes I've only been at Cloudflare for about a year.

So sometimes I'm still, you know, I'm still learning a lot about security.

But I think at the end of the day, every like, it's such a new field.

And there's a lot of people who are also willing to teach you things.

So don't be discouraged if you're starting off from scratch. I was there once.

Absolutely. Okay, great. Thank you both so much. Again, that was incredible. We can go to our next theme, or big theme of the session, which is the first.

And Hattie, I'll let you explain that a bit and then talk about your experience.

Sure. Thanks, Ellie.

So here we were thinking about talking about like, sometimes, as underrepresented groups, we find that we are the first, maybe go to college, or the first to study a particular subject matter, or the first to enter corporate America, or the first to move out of the country, or the first to do a lot of things.

So Pablo and I wanted to talk a little bit about what our individual experiences were with relation to being the first to do something in our families.

So I'm going to talk a little bit about being the first to be in tech.

And it's a kind of a combination one, because this one, this story also has to do with taking advice from mom, which I know no one likes to do, or like, a lot of people might be resistant to do, but I was a good girl, and I did, and it had some payoffs.

So let me share the story.

So I'll start off by saying that my sister was an industrial engineer.

And she was very much hoping that I would be an engineer too. So I was the last hope, because I mentioned earlier that I'm the youngest of four sisters, and so the person who was an industrial engineer was like my second oldest, and then the next sister, she became an accountant.

She liked math, but she went the accounting route.

So then I was like the last hope to be the other engineer in the family.

And I do love math, and I'm good at math, but I don't like love science.

So I decided, you know, with the science that was necessary to be an engineer, I just really wasn't about taking that path.

So in New York City, which is where I live, and I lived back then also when I was still in junior high school, you get to apply for specialized high schools.

That's like a thing here. I don't know if it's a thing in other places, but you do get to apply to be in a specialized high school.

So at the age of 14, you're kind of picking what your major is going to be.

So you could imagine what that feels like, because that's like, you know, you're barely old enough to like, I don't know, leave your house by yourself.

And like now you're like making decisions that are going to affect the rest of your life.

So anyway, I decided that I wanted to go to a specialized high school. I did want to do something related to math because I was good at it, but I wasn't really sure what.

And this was, mind you, the year 1984. So I did a little Google searching to see what was happening in 1984 related to technology, because my mom was encouraging me to pursue what she called computers.

That was her term for it.

And she said in Spanish, computadoras. Estudia computadoras was what my mother told me.

And like I said, my mother didn't even finish high school. So I'm like trying to figure out what was influencing her to push me that way.

So when I Googled technology back in 1984, it said that that was the year that CD-ROMs came out.

So that was like the first year of CD-ROMs.

And IBM had just introduced the PCjr. So as you can see, not that much exciting stuff was happening then.

But somehow my mother knew that I should be pursuing computers.

I remember her, like if the conversation was yesterday, she's like, this is an up-and-coming field.

You're going to be able to build a carrera.

You're going to be able to make money. So anyway, that was what she encouraged me to do.

And as I was 14 and I didn't know what else I should be doing, I said, OK, I'm going to study computers, which meant that I could like apply to different high schools and try to be like a computer science major, which is what was available at the time.

And so that's what I did. I studied computer science in high school.

I won't give you the nitty gritty details, but I will tell you that there were punch cards involved with that experience.

And if people don't know what punch cards are, it's like the dinosaur of tech.

But like a thousand years ago, I worked with punch cards.

So I know y'all laughing, but it's a true story.

Anyway, and then I ended up studying computer information systems when I went to college.

And I kind of took a different turn because I kind of, I liked business and I wanted to do like not just pure coding, but I wanted to be like, oh, like, so how do you use technology to advance business or how do you use technology to like, you know, promote a product or, you know, that kind of thing.

And so that's why I ended up studying that.

And back in the day, again, a million years ago, I was actually, I worked in the computer lab at my school.

I don't even think that probably doesn't even exist anymore because it doesn't make sense that there would be a computer lab these days, but I did.

And I used to help people, other students debug their programs.

Like that was something that I did for fun.

I mean, I got paid for it, but like that was enjoyable to me and I loved it.

So when I graduated, I was the first in my family to be an application developer.

I did it for seven years. People who know me now probably are like, what, what were you programming?

Like, it just seems very weird for me to be saying that, but it's a true story.

And I did do that. I was a programmer for seven years. And I think that I would probably still be doing it if it were not for my very extroverted nature.

Like I think eventually I got like so, not bored, but like lonely programming, like, and not like, you just kind of program and you don't even talk to people.

You don't need to talk to people. And that was just like something that I really, I wasn't feeling it.

So I said, okay, I need to find a job that's a little bit more suits my personality.

And anyway, I've, you know, I, I described my, my path, but you know, there was a lot that ended up involving working with customers and, you know, and that's what I did today.

So hope you liked the story.

It was fun to share it. Pablo, I'm going to hand it off to you now. Okay. Thanks.

Thanks, Hattie. That was, that was very good. About my, my, my situation is that I was very, at Argentina, I was very comfy, right?

So my, my family, they're all accountants for, for generations. So I have a family of accountants for generations.

So it's very normal that everyone will study to be an accountant, right?

And we have a family business, you know, we're doing pretty good for, for generations.

We're very known over there. So I always wanted to work in business.

I didn't know what area of business, but that's what I wanted to do.

And I changed my degree three times. So I changed universities three times, you know, is I started studying international trade for four years.

I didn't finish my degree. I was about to, to, to, to get my degree, but I was so tired and I was so, you know, thinking like, is this what I want to do with my life?

And, and, and I changed university. I changed my degree. I went to business administration.

Oh, by the way, this is something that you can only do probably in Latin America.

If you change degrees in the United States with the cost of education over here, that will be insane, right?

So I was very lucky. And, and, and then I started business administration again for three years.

And I said, I'm not really sure.

And I end up with a marketing degree and, and, and consumer behavior degree.

And that, that's what I wanted to do at the end. But I think that the learning lesson over here is that you don't have all the answers all the time, right?

You don't have the answers and it's good to follow your gut to understand because it's a discovery path, right?

You will learn along the way that the things that you like when you were a kid will change or mutate on the way.

And I think that the curiosity should drive your future, right? So I didn't know what, what, what to do when I was, when I was studying and my family, of course, they were saying, why don't you study accountancy?

Why don't you do what the family is doing?

You will have a good future. You know, you will get money that way.

You need to struggle. And, but I said, no, I want to, I want to do this. I was the first in just, you know, go into a different, different path.

And saying that your goals will change along the way.

For example, I met my wife over there. That's something that is not part of your plans.

When you say, I want to study this, I want to go to this company.

I want to create this project, right? So you need to pivot, right?

Your, your, your goals. So, and then another big change was to migrate to the United States, right?

So my family were, why are you going to change your culture?

Why are you going to leave your family, let's say, to go to a different country, you know, with a different language.

You don't know anyone over there, meaning that you need to, you know, start from scratch because in Argentina, you know, we know a lot of people.

So even if you're struggling, you will always have connections that will help you.

So I decided to come here to the United States with nothing, let's say, right?

Only my, my, my wife, my wife, family, they're all in the medical industry.

They're all nurses or doctors or in the military, right?

So for, for both of us, you know, we came to, to, to the US and we decided to come to the tech mecca, right?

So it's coming to San Francisco, knowing that there is a lot of potential here.

There's a lot of industries here. So we both have a business degree and we came here to San Francisco and we started meeting people.

We applied to different jobs and you will learn, you know, especially in tech, there's so many cool stuff out there that you have no idea, right?

But if you don't ask yourself, okay, what's out there, you will never find out, right?

So I started just getting, you know, getting inside the industry to understand how it works, you know, what's out there.

And I think it's important to understand what are your skills.

And that's something that of course you need to nurture yourself, but also the other people will tell you, right?

So as soon as you, you, you're in college and then you have an internship or you start having your first job, people will tell you, we'll give you some clues about what you're good at, right?

And then when you realize about that, you can just start investing in those skills and then find the ways to put those skills to work, right?

So in my case, it was, I know several languages.

I have a good knowledge about the Latin markets. So when I came to the US and they want to start working for Cloudflare, they were looking for a specialist in Latin American markets.

And I was that person, right? And the idea is because I knew what my skills were, I was able to match my skills with what Cloudflare was looking, but could be another alert company, right?

And then I ended up here, but it's not something that I was saying, okay, I want to work in tech and this is the path that I want to go.

You know, I could end up in a different industry, but I think it's a journey and you won't have all the answers.

And sometimes just the time and your experience will lead you to something that maybe you never thought before, right?

So that was my experience. Yeah, thank you both so much.

I think it definitely takes a lot of, you know, grit and determination to do something different than what your family has done.

So I have a question for both of you.

Did you ever second guess yourself, like along the way? And if you did, you know, how did you overcome those thoughts and continue to do something that's, you know, the first in your family?

I'll start, Pablo, if you don't mind.

It's funny you asked that question because as I was preparing for today, I remembered a very sad moment in my life when I first joined Anderson Consulting and there's like six weeks of training when you first start, everyone goes through and they send you to this place in Illinois and you're just like programming and learning for like intense seven days a week, all day, every day.

And I remember that that was the first time I didn't feel like I was the brightest person in the room.

And not to say that I, you know, in college there were other bright people, but I definitely felt like I was in the lower tier of people in that class.

And that was really scary for me because I knew that there was a chance that I could fail, that I could like, you know, kind of be the person who doesn't kind of move on to the next phase.

And that was a new experience for me because I was very fortunate in all my circles that I was always like, you know, very competitive and like the best and the smartest and work, you know, like, oh, I'm good, I'm good, I'm good.

And then this was where like everybody was good. So then I wasn't the best anymore.

And that was such a horrifying experience. That was my first taste of like, I could fail.

And then I remember thinking like, oh my god, I just bought a car.

How am I going to make my car payments if I don't like keep this job?

It was a horrible experience. So thankfully, I stayed with Anderson for like another two and a half years after that training experience.

It was a wonderful, wonderful learning experience for me.

But it was one of the scariest moments of my life because I thought like I could actually not succeed in this.

And that was scary.

Yeah, in my case is you always have second thoughts, right? And I think that you don't have to be the best.

You know, you have to be valuable, whatever you are, right?

Because sometimes when you when you're forcing yourself to be number one, I believe that you might end up, you know, burned out, right?

Meaning that it's like a rat race, right?

You're running, running, running, running. And at the end, you're so tired that, you know, you end up with nothing, right?

So of course, when I came here knowing having no friends, missing my family, missing my culture, missing my language, you know, there are some times that you said, people don't understand me.

I don't understand them either. And you always want to go back to your safe place, you know, the place where you feel contained, you know, where there's no fear around.

But I think that's just life, right? That's just life that, of course, you will end up with situations where, you know, you don't know what to do.

And you want to go back to that safe place. But I think it's just temporary, right?

Just take it as a learning experience, meaning that just give it time.

I think sometimes when you have the impulse just to react, to protect yourself about if this decision was the right one or not, is you can always go back, right?

Meaning that if you make a decision, and something goes wrong, it's not the end of the world, right?

And sometimes we believe that, oh, if I lose my job, or, you know, there is a lot of other things that you can do, you know, and again, the pressure, it's on your own, right?

You're the only one just putting pressure on yourself, right?

So if you fail, okay, it's a learning experience, just learn from it.

And there's a lot of other things that you can do. And to be honest, this is just a personal experience.

People don't care. And what I'm saying is, if you fail, people won't go to you and just tell you, ah, you failed, right?

That's something that we believe, but that won't happen, right? So it's just a personal pressure that you put on yourself.

So in my experience, I feel that every time that I face something new, and I just give time, I try to learn, I try to solve the problems and learn from the experience, right?

At the end, everything will be right.

Everything will be fine, you know, so you don't have to think that it's the end of the world if things don't go the way that you thought it would be, right?

Yes, I completely agree with that. Well, thank you again, Hadi and Pablo, those were really valuable stories.

And I really appreciate that you offered to share them.

So we have about 15 minutes left. And I think we can go ahead and dive into our Q&A portion.

So again, we've asked around 1500 students to submit questions for this session and our panelists beforehand.

And so here are some of our favorites.

The first question, what helped you accelerate your career? Are there any tips or advice you have for students?

I thought I kind of kicked this off.

So I thought of a couple things. One would definitely be to work hard and build a reputation.

I think if you build a reputation, it helps you to kind of step into the next, you know, area that you want to be in, you know, so I think people get to know you and know that you work hard and you have a good work ethic, it can go a long way.

I also think, you know, I think a couple of people have talked about this today.

I think every speaker has and it's about like, getting out of your comfort zone a little bit.

You know, I think moving to another country, pursuing cybersecurity, you know, taking the chance with the Lopez show, it's all about like, you got to take some risks, because there's risk reward.

And you know, the bigger the risk, the better chance you get a reward.

So I do think you need to get a little bit out of your comfort zone in order to accelerate your career.

And then lastly, I would say, and it kind of goes hand in hand with getting out of your comfort zone, it's like just remaining open.

So like, you know, Pablo said, he could have planned that he was going to meet his wife, and she's going to be American, he's gonna move to SF and, you know, get into tech and all that, like, you can plan that.

But, but if you remain open, there could be some really interesting opportunities that will come to you.

And you have to kind of have enough, I guess, chutzpah to be like, you know what, I'm gonna take the chance.

I don't know how it's gonna work out.

I don't know, like, what the how this is gonna end up, but I'm, you know, I'm gonna remain open.

And maybe this opportunity is going to lead to something really great for me in my future.

So those are the some of the tips that I would give.

That's great. Does anyone else want to touch on this question before we move on to the next one?

I can I can just say something over here.

When when I came here to the US, and I was I had six months with no working because I didn't have my work visa.

So I was saying, okay, what can I do?

Right. So what I did is I started looking at the skills that I didn't have before going to the job market, right.

So I was just looking at different resumes or different, sorry, different skills that the companies on LinkedIn were looking for, right, you have the list of the skills.

So I was okay, if I want a job like this, I can see that there's some skills that I don't have.

So how, how can I just get those skills with not having work experience, right.

And a lot of jobs were asking about knowing about AdWords, knowing about specific tools that you can find training online, right.

And for free, right, you only need time, you only need to, to, to, to organize yourself to do that.

So during six months, I was doing all the Google certifications.

And when I went inside the job market, I got several skill batches, right, of, of different online degrees, let's say about analytics, about video, about CDN.

I have several stuff that I was, you know, looking for to, to get ready.

And the thing is, studying is something that you should never stop, right.

Even if you're working full time, you're studying, maybe you have kids, right.

The learning part, it's always super important. So whenever you have a few minutes, it's important to have, you know, some learning path, you know, in your mind, like having an application to learn languages, or listening to podcasts, or doing online certifications for free.

Those are things that at the end will add up value to your resume.

And that's, that's one of the tip that is very important.

You know, I think it was very good for me because at the end, when I was ready to get a job, I had several stuff.

And it was easy for me to find a job with all these extra skills that I got in my, in my free time.

No, I think that's great, Pablo.

And I'm so glad that you mentioned that because part of the purpose for this whole series is to offer, you know, this mentorship and, and guidance for, for students, a lot of students that have their internships canceled.

And so they have this, you know, gap of time where they don't necessarily have a job and they can't work.

And so I think it's so important to be, you know, kind of finding projects and being curious and building those skills for when you do have those opportunities.

So thank you so much for mentioning that. And that kind of brings us to our next question as well.

What are some skills that were instrumental for your successful career?

How did you upskill yourself as you switched companies within tech?

I'll start it off. I think you, I think it's really, really important to have an excellent work ethic.

I think that is instrumental for any successful individual is to just be someone who's people who like a manager of you, you use as someone who they can count on or like one of their best players.

I think you want your team to be like, I can count on this person.

So you want to be valuable.

You want to be someone people can count on, people can depend on, people can trust.

If someone's going to like be out of the office and they're like, Hey, can you cover my customers for me?

Like that, those are all good indications that people trust you.

And, and, you know, that's a good sign. I think also knowing your strengths and building on them is very important.

Because I think that, you know, it's hard when you want a job that maybe you don't have the right skill set for, or you're not very good at, or like, you know, you want to be in tech, you want to be in tech, but like, maybe you don't have like the right aptitude for it.

As an example, I do think that it is important to be very self-aware, know your skills and build on your skills, because that's where you're going to most likely see the most success.

Not to say that you can't build new skills, not to say that you can't learn something new, not to say that there are not ways to develop as a person, but always know what your strengths are and build on those and use those to kind of lead the way.

And then maybe you can kind expand from there. Yeah, just to sort of build on that.

Like Pablo, I also was working when I was in university as well.

While my parents were definitely happy to help out with rent, they were not really so keen on paying for my drinks.

So that is definitely something that I needed to pay for on my own.

And when I started out my career, I was actually working in customer support and didn't really see where those skill sets would lead me to, but it was really instrumental to find out that, A, I really enjoy helping people.

It's something that I know is very cliche in a customer success role, but you really have to have a drive and desire to keep you motivated every day.

Otherwise, it's just going to be a mundane role and you're not going to really be inspired.

And then additionally, whenever I start a new role, I come up with a personal goal and then a career goal.

So something that I want to not only do in my personal life because this new role has given me new opportunities, whether that's monetary opportunities or just learning from my peers, but then also a professional goal and what skills do I want to take from this.

And I think it's important to reflect on that because it holds you accountable to yourself, but then it also just keeps you motivated.

Like I said, otherwise, it's just going to be a mundane role 9 to 5.

So you definitely want to find something that makes your role personal to you.


Absolutely. So we only have about five minutes left, so I'm just going to jump really quickly to the next question and this might be our last.

But I do think that this is a really valuable question.

What systems in work or in life have you created to help you continuously get feedback, learn and improve?

Yeah, I can take this.

Honestly, I'm just very open. My name is Gabby. I'm very talkative.

I enjoy talking to people. I don't know if my mom foresaw that when she gave me this name.

I'm very just open and have no qualms just hearing feedback. So when I have one-on-ones with my manager, I just am very open and I say, how could I have done better in this situation?

Because we're all different. We all have different life experiences and we all have different ways that we would approach a problem.

So it's not necessarily that it's right or wrong. It's just that we can all learn from one another and having that openness and willingness to take those life lessons is very key.

Yeah, I think one thing that's helped me improve and continue to learn is continuing to find challenges and take them on.

And so I see a lot of times there will be a project that everyone in my team might be a little bit worried about taking on because it seems like something that maybe none of us have had experience in before.

And I think even in those times where you might feel like, oh, I might fail if I take on this project, it's still, if you can get yourself out of your comfort zone and go for those opportunities and challenge yourself and just try to learn something new, I think that that's one of the best ways to improve yourself.

And I think especially, there might be things that you feel, if you feel like there's something that you're excited or curious about, that's enough of an indication that you should try to take on that challenge.

And you're likely to succeed if you, I think, if you're excited and curious about something.


So I think we actually have time for one more question. And I think this is a great one to end on.

How to make yourself stand out to Cloudflare hiring team and the tech industry in general?

I can answer that super quick. Based on my experiences, just be social, right?

So it's not only if you want to go after, and also I think this is part of what we do in sales.

If you get a no, you can have a hundred yes if you ask someone else.

So if you cannot get in touch with a recruiter, so trying to show your skills to the people that might be part of your team in the future, right?

Even if there's not a position maybe today, and you want to work, for example, in the sales team, and the recruiter said, we don't have a position right now, start talking to the team.

Start finding people on LinkedIn, sending messages, be open.

This is who I am. I want to work with you because X, Y, and Z.

I have these skills. And even if you don't have it, people love to hear people with curiosity or with a good vibe saying, I want to work with you.

I want to learn from you.

So be social. I think it's a key skills to open doors. Yeah. I would also say to identify something unique that you're going to bring to that team.

And I would talk about that during the interview because I think there's going to be a lot of great people.

Obviously you should know yourself. Obviously you should come prepared with lots of questions.

Obviously you should be really interested in working specifically at Cloudflare if that's what you're interviewing with.

So all those things are a given.

So I think what could make you really stand out is saying, and here's how I can uniquely contribute to the team that, you know, whatever team you're having a conversation about.

I think that could add a lot of value. The other thing I would add to that is don't just state what you've done on your resume.

I think that it's really important to outline how you've met and exceeded performance metrics because that's really going to show the willingness to, you know, take new challenges.

And the fact that you're able to, you know, meet these goals is just one aspect of that.

And then don't be afraid to change your resume and get feedback on it.

Share it with multiple people. There's a lot of good feedback that you can get from, you know, your mother, your sister, your friends.

And don't be scared for them to tell you that you need to start fresh.

Absolutely. Well I think we're out of time and I really can't thank you all enough for joining this session of MentorFlare.

I felt like the conversation was extremely personal and valuable.

So I just really appreciate you all being here. I feel like we could keep talking for another hour.

There are so many good questions we didn't get to get to.

But anyways, thank you all and I really appreciate it. Have a good one. Bye guys.

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