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Facebook, Inc.

Different Doesn’t Mean Wrong: How Facebook’s Luisa Hurtado Sets an Authentic Example

When Luisa Hurtado got engaged, her whole team at Facebook celebrated with her.

That may seem like a normal way for coworkers to respond.

But as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, the support really meant something to Luisa. "Everyone was saying congratulations, and they were so happy for me, and that was just so nice," says Luisa of her engagement to her now-wife. "I was treated like a normal person. Everyone's very open, and more importantly, everyone's very supportive; people will understand you and they will not judge you, and that's really how Facebook has helped me."

As a software engineering manager at Facebook, she works really hard to create encouraging environments for other people, helping them find ways to succeed even if they're taking different paths than she is.

We sat down with Luisa to talk about how she came to recognize the importance of intersectionality and finding a workplace that supports it, how she's tapped into communities at work and is building new ones, and what she's learned about her own style of leadership.

Finding her own path

Luisa grew up in Colombia. And while she wasn't the most typical little girl—she preferred cars to Barbies, she says—her family always accepted her.

"I was who I was, and it didn't matter. Like, it didn't matter that I didn't look in the way that everyone in Colombia looked," she says. "That's really kind of what helped me chart my own path because it gave me an advantage. I came here and I was never questioning who I was or how to fit in, because my family was supporting me."

Luisa came to the U.S. after college in order to study English. She ended up getting a job, and now, 12 years later, she's here to stay. Getting used to American work culture has been an opportunity to reflect on her own intersectional experience as a woman, an immigrant from Colombia, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

"I've come to understand that all of these pieces kind of make me who I am," says Luisa. Unpacking systems of access has taught her "what's been holding people like me back," she adds. For example, says Luisa, she was taught to be humble growing up, but realized that American culture encourages more self-promotion. She's found a way to balance both. "I was raised in a different way. I see things differently. I ask questions that maybe other people wouldn't ask," she says.

And in her role, where she manages a group of engineers, half of whom are originally from other countries, Luisa recognizes that she can serve as an example for other people who share one of her identities or who feel like a part of the "other."

"Being very honest with my team about who I'm married to, who I am, where I come from, what my experiences have been, I think that helps other people also be more open," she says.

Not first and not last: paying it forward to others

Luisa's first year at Facebook wasn't easy, but she got through it with the help of a director who mentored her. "She really helped me with my confidence," says Luisa. "She was able to understand what I was going through. Having female mentors that can really help you and have been through the same things as you [is key], because then you think, 'Oh, I'm not alone. It actually has happened to other people like me.'"

Her mentor's specific advice was on how to not take failure personally. For Luisa, a combination of internalizing that lesson and building connections with other mentors and friends who could help reinforce it really helped.

Luisa says there are three groups at Facebook that have been especially empowering:

  • Latin@, where Luisa helps coach other LatinX employees on how to advocate for themselves. "They're teaming up managers with engineers to give feedback on their self-reviews. It's important how they communicate what they have achieved, so I help people talk up their accomplishments more," she says. She also appreciates the Latin@ Community Summit because "it's really hard to find Latinos in tech; just being able to see them and be next to them—and sing songs in Spanish—is awesome."
  • Women@, where Luisa says she's experienced "lots of community building." "It's a great place where I can see and feel inspired by women who are in higher-up leadership positions and ask, 'How can I get there?'" she says. "The workshops you can take specifically helped grow my leadership skills." She works to pay those lessons forward on her own team: "I take it very seriously to actually help women ask for things they want and give them the opportunities to lead themselves," she says. "I ask, 'How can I be a champion for them?'"
  • The D&I team for the FB App, where Luisa has been able to take a more hands-on approach to diversity and inclusion efforts and work to pay it forward for all of the app's users. "It's given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people, but also push for initiatives that I'm really passionate about...I've been able to really exercise my leadership skills with something that I believe in," she says. "I get to build connections and push for things on a larger scale, so I really love that."

Tapping into these groups of other leaders and people who share her identities and passions has given Luisa an immense support system at work. "I appreciate the sense of community that I can have without me having to be the person leading in the forefront," she says.

And now she continues to pay it forward, particularly to other women leaders. "I think about how I can actually build that space for them that maybe they don't feel comfortable creating, but that I, as an advocate for their growth, can give them access to," she says. "I do have an advantage of being a woman and understanding what it's like, so it's easier for me to catch these things before they even tell me."

Developing her own style of leadership

When Luisa first became an engineering manager, she struggled to step back from the day-to-day work that needed to get done. "I always thought, 'I could do it faster, why don't I just do it?'" she says.

She quickly realized that investing in her team and helping them grow would help them to learn how to do it faster. "And differently," she says. "I would learn something from them, if I would give them the space to be who they are and see how they'd solve problems."

That led to one of the first lessons Luisa learned as a manager: "Just because someone is doing something differently, it doesn't mean it's wrong."

That experience also drove Luisa to show her team that she believed in them even when she didn't agree with how they were approaching something.

"It can become this vicious cycle," says Luisa. "Where a manager sees that an employee isn't performing well, and so then they stop supporting them. Instead, investing in coaching and saying, 'No, I believe in them' and giving them the opportunities can really help. You see people light up and transform and really take on that role when you say, 'Hey, I'm here for you. I know you can do it. We'll do it together,'" she says.

Other key lessons Luisa's learned?

  • Come up with a vision, first and foremost, otherwise you'll get lost in a constant stream of tasks without building towards anything. "There's so many things to do that you'll go crazy!" she says. That vision applies not just to your team design but also to the individuals within it: "How do you think about their career in a couple of years? About their goals and how they can achieve them?"
  • Encourage your people to find their own way to lead. "The first thing [I tell people] is, 'You do not need to be the loudest person in the room,'" says Luisa. "I make sure it's very clear that when I'm asking them to lead something or drive something to completion...that we can find the right tactics for them," which might be written communication or one-on-one. "Everyone has different communication styles."
  • Coach towards collaboration. Luisa encourages her engineers to reach out to their peers. "I want to make sure that those ideas are heard," she says.
  • Tell people what your expectations are and give them flexibility in meeting them. Luisa says she makes sure that project leads know what they need to execute on, but lets them determine the best way to do that. For example, she'll be clear that they need to communicate the status of the project to stakeholders. "That could be a meeting, or in a post-it, or something else," she says. "The tactics are different, but the expectations are fairly well-defined."

As Luisa's career has grown, she still questions if she's doing the right thing or if she's setting herself up well for the long run. "I have learned that I kind of need to not listen to that voice," she says. Instead, she keeps pushing herself.

"I'm not the person who's going to take the most risks," says Luisa. "My wife would tell you that sometimes I'm afraid of getting in the ocean because the waves are too strong. So my sense of risk is very different, but it's still helping me push myself a little bit more and not listen to that critic, and be more like, 'What's the worst thing that could happen?' and start there and then move forward."

Learn more about Facebook's open roles.

How These Companies Are Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.

That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.

Autodesk, Inc.

How Embracing What She Doesn’t Know Led Autodesk’s Arezoo Riahi to a Fulfilling Career in DEI

Arezoo Riahi isn't a big fan of the "fake it till you make it" approach. She'd rather ask for the help she needs and learn from it.

Autodesk's Director of Diversity and Belonging joined the design software company from the nonprofit world after a long career in connecting people from different cultures. While her work had been deeply rooted in DEI values, there were certain parts of the strategy-building aspects to her new role that she wasn't sure about.

"If you know it, show up like you know it. If you don't know it, you shouldn't fake it. And Autodesk didn't shame me for not knowing everything. They helped me, and the entire team, by providing the resources that we needed, bringing in outside expertise to help teach us when we were in new territory," says Arezoo, who has been at Autodesk for three years now, during which she's been promoted twice into her current role.

We sat down with Arezoo to hear more about her path into DEI work, what she thinks the future of that work must include, and what advice she has for women looking to build fulfilling careers, from knowing what you don't know and beyond.


Behind-the-Scenes: Sales Interview Process at LogMeIn

Get an inside look at the interview process for sales roles at LogMeIn, one of the largest SaaS companies providing remote work technology, from Michael Gagnon, Senior Manager of Corporate Account Executive Sales.

Procore Technologies Inc

How Being an Open Member of the LGBTQIA+ Community Has Helped Procore’s Alex Zinik Overcome Imposter Syndrome at Work

Alex Zinik wasn't surprised that she started her career in education—she decided she would become a teacher when she was just in third grade.

She was surprised while working as a paraeducator in the school system and preparing to become a special education teacher, she discovered that it didn't feel quite right. "I didn't know if that's what I really wanted to do," she recalls.

So a friend suggested she take a job during her off summers at construction software company Procore. She thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try out this new challenge, and if she needed to, she could go back to the school district once the summer was over.

"Five summers later, I'm still here!" she says, smiling. "And I see myself here for many more years. I just fell in love with the company, the culture, and with the career growth opportunities I was presented with."

As part of our Pride month celebrations, Alex, currently the Senior Executive Assistant to the CEO at Procore, sat down with us to share how a common fear—the fear of being found out—underlay the imposter syndrome she felt when pivoting to an industry in which she lacked experience, and the anxiety she often felt before coming out to her friends and family about her sexuality.

Read on for her insight on overcoming negative thought patterns, being yourself, and paying it forward.


The Outlook That Helps CSL’s Paula Manchester Invest in Herself and Her Team

If you told Paula Manchester that you weren't good at math, she wouldn't believe you.

"That's a global indictment," she says. "'I'm not good at math' implies that you don't have the ability to nurture that muscle. And then I'd ask what kind of math? There's a lot to math."

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