Here’s How This Latina Navigated Her Transition From Finance To Tech

LexMex Alexa Trevino

Marlene Arroyo may have started her career in finance, but it was the human aspect of any job that always drew her in. From Dell to her current role as Vice President of People Operations at Liftoff Mobile Inc., a high growth tech company in Silicon Valley, she has made it her career mission to champion employees and embrace how their humanity impacts their jobs. It was knowing what her career mission was at its core that made it possible for her to transition from one career path to the next.

“Philosophically, it became apparent to me that human resources was my calling when, as a finance professional, I’d enjoy spending most of my time dissecting costs associated to SG&A, training, hiring and coaching,” shares Arroyo. “Mechanically, the way I was able to make this transition was by having informational meetings with HR executives, taking evening courses, asking for help and being open about my aspirations to my sponsors. While the art of Human Resources came naturally to me, to differentiate myself, I needed to supercharge the impact I delivered by drawing from my finance experience and ensuring that my strategic recommendation were backed by data.”

Now, she uses her skill-set to help others achieve the kind of growth that she’s constantly challenged herself to work towards.

“My biggest motivation [through this journey] has been my family,” says Arroyo. “I feel incredibly blessed to be the daughter of immigrant parents who instilled in me work ethic and resilience. While my parents still do not completely understand what I do, they know I work hard and they are my biggest fans. Each education milestone and career progression has been theirs as well. Their American Dream lives in me and owning that, keeps me motivated .”

Growing up in the Latinx culture and within her own family unit can explain in part why Arroyo has felt the desire to pay it forward to other generations by way of her career.

Below she shares advice for Latinxs who are searching for advice on how to land their dream job, how to self-care if you’re in the position of constantly pouring into others, and how to make sure you’re learning the most from your current job.

Vivian Nunez: How has your Latinidad influenced your career?

Marlene Arroyo: Passion, humility, honor, perseverance – are all a part of my core values that I hold because of my Latinidad. Knowing that there is a lot more work to be done to help young Latinas see that they, too, can achieve their goals, keeps me in the arena.

Nunez: Your role constantly pours into other people, how do you ensure that you’re being poured into as well?

Arroyo: My days move fast and if I do not pause they tend to feel like a blur. I have a daily ritual where I prime my day with 15 minutes of self-care. It includes gratitude, planning and celebrating wins. I’ve learned that if I can control my thinking, it directly contributes to my happiness and health.

Nunez: What advice do you have for Latinas who are balancing their family responsibilities and the goals they have for themselves?

Arroyo: My advice to Latinas is to remember that when you succeed, those around you also succeed. With this said, sometimes people who we love may inadvertently try and hold us back because of their own fears, but this is when your conviction has to be the strongest . For instance, I was the first in my family to pursue a university degree outside of my hometown of San Antonio, Texas. My parents were against this goal and could not understand why I wouldn’t attend the local community college. However, I was passionate about pursuing higher education in a focused environment of strong supportive women, and I made it a point to achieve that by attending Texas Woman’s University. As a result, it led to a diverse career trajectory and was ultimately a stepping stone for me to go across the country to pursue an MBA. Despite that I left home, my parents are very proud of me because I’ve demonstrated to them the fruit of that labor.

Nunez: What tips do you have for Latinas who are looking to score their dream jobs?

Arroyo: First, with an open heart, welcome the uncomfortable fear of rejection. Second, be persistent and patient with your endeavors. Third, don’t be afraid to say no to the wrong opportunities. Lastly, be confident in yourself when interviewing – if you doubt yourself, the interviewers will also doubt you. Try watching motivational talks. One of my favorites is by Mel Robbins, The Secret to Self-Motivation

Nunez: What’s your biggest lesson learned when it comes to setting boundaries that help you keep your spirits and energy high?

Arroyo: My biggest lesson learned when it comes to keeping my spirits high has been deciding whether something is a direct obligation of mine or not. For instance, voting is a necessary obligation for me. It is a privilege and honor to exercise my right to vote, to share information with my close circle of family and friends, and to march for women’s rights.

Nunez: Any tips on how to ensure that you’re getting the most from the role you are currently in?

Arroyo: In order to get the most from your role it is important to have an idea of where you’re going. It up to you to define what skills you need to excel in your current and future roles. The highest performers that I’ve observed are those who have strong work ethic and are committed to exceed in the job they were hired for. Once they deliver impact, they are honest with their managers on where they want to go – and things take care of themselves from there.

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