Forbes | To Succeed In Tech, Be Willing To Do Hard Things

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Courtesy Vanessa Alvarez

Vanessa Alvarez, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft, is the daughter of immigrants and the first college graduate in her family. She has firsthand experience with the challenges of blossoming out of poverty, working herself through school and leveraging the support of numerous mentors to reach her current situation. In her professional role she helps companies understand the value of cloud computing and leverage innovative technology to increase business value.  She was named one of the Top Women in Cloud Computing two consecutive years and one of Top 100 Cloud Computing Experts in Huffington Post.

She is also a conscious role model for girls and young women, particularly Latinas, who struggle with the circumstances of their upbringing and have a limited view of their possibilities. She works with Latino activists in low income neighborhoods in her childhood home of Rhode Island, striving to raise the profile of technology as a viable pursuit for girls. She is also a member of CloudNOW, an organization that promotes women in technology and collaborates with other organizations encouraging girls to enter the world of STEM.

Pivotal momentum of reinvention

The moment I realized I needed to build a brand in order to establish a career in the tech field. Realizing that your brand is important and represents who you are is a big moment. I started as a junior analyst at The Yankee Group, where I worked with extremely talented analysts who were shaping the future of the technology industry. I wanted to be a part of that. I also observed that many of the star analysts were brands on their own, and I realized how important it was to establish yourself in a space, a niche, and own it. It's the difference between a job and a career, doing something you love.

 Moonshot Goal

I want to help move the needle on Latinos being represented in the technology industry. It’s critical that Latinos be a part of the future, and that’s technology. I partner with several Latino activist groups to drive more interest for Latinos in technology. I also mentor many young adults who are not aware of their opportunities, or of the exciting world of technology.

Morning Routine

I wake up at 5 am, remind myself of what I’m grateful for, fuel up with coffee, turn on CNBC for market news, and read about what’s going on in my industry. I may squeeze in a workout or run.


Unplugging is hard, the tech industry is moving so fast, and I want to move with it! I need to know what’s going on all the time, but when I do unplug, it’ll be for a few hours to spend with family.

Accomplishment that Makes Me Smile

As mundane as it may sound, graduating from college is my proudest moment. According to Pew Research only 15% of Latinos graduated from college in 2014. These stats are real. It was less during my time. When I graduated from high school, college wasn't an option for people ‘like me' a woman, Latina or both. My parents worked in factories, and that was my option. Sometimes you believe the circumstances around you dictate who you are, and it's hard to break out of that cycle without some inspiration.

It sounds mundane, but graduating from college was my proudest moment. – @vanessaalvarez1 @womenatforbes  

Recent Business Reading

Ben Horowitz: ‘The Hard Thing about Hard Things’. Starting your own business can be the most exciting thing in your life, a major accomplishment, and it's easy to get caught up in the excitement. Ben gives you the reality of what it's like to deal with the hard things in being an entrepreneur. I have also seen first hand the start up struggle, having led marketing for a couple of start ups in Silicon Valley.

Next on my list of books to read: Grit by Angela Duckworth

This post originally published at Forbes

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