Wouldn’t it be great if we had a secret map that could lead us to our ultimate career goal? Better yet, an expert scout who could take us there? In a new, monthly Chica column starting in January, Meredith’s Vice President, Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer Roxanne Flores will be that guide who not only will share invaluable career advice but also tackle topics like landing the perfect job, branding yourself, negotiating a salary and mastering workplace politics. Flores’ own life experiences also will motivate Latinas who want to climb the corporate ladder.
“I’m hoping to give them the tools that they otherwise wouldn’t have. I think one of the things that happens to us Latinas is that we’re still arriving, our families are still arriving. We don’t necessarily have the connections —and the parents who golf— those corporate executive doorways that allow us to enter. What I’m looking to do is to give them a strategic tool kit wherever they are in their career because we need advice throughout,” says Flores, who is of Ecuadorian and Puerto Rican descent.
“I’m the daughter of a seamstress and a door man. I’m an American miracle,” she adds. “My parents are great: they gave me an education but they could not show me the way. I was very fortunate having worked in corporate America from the beginning that someone sponsored me, someone saw something in me.”
Flores is grateful for all the mentors who guided her on her professional path. “The very first one I ever had when I worked at the New York Daily News was the director of HR. She was already ahead of the game; she guided me in appropriateness because I was a great worker, I did what I had to do, but I wasn’t polished and work is a game,” she admits. “It’s how you’re perceived. It’s not how you are, it’s how people think you are.”
Getting the right advice at that time in her career helped Flores. “She taught me with such care; every time I could have done something better, she told me a story of how to handle it. She knew that I was a diamond in the rough and she just polished and polished every single time I misstepped, which we all do. She was wonderful, she gave me opportunities,” Flores recalls of her mentor. “I was a personnel administrator at that point, I was really low on the totem pole. She was wonderful. She saw something in me and helped me be better. She helped me create a perception that would open doors for me.”
Flores adds that her own career advancement has been due, in part, to fostering good connections with people. “Every job I’ve gotten is because a former manager moved on and thought of me for the job, or a former client thought of me for something else. So for me it’s been networking, it’s been those true relationships with people in the business,” she recounts.
How has she paid it forward? By giving other Latinas in the workplace a lot of coaching and counseling — and now sharing her knowledge through her Chica column. “I love to give a good referral. I’m a big fan of referrals and making introductions. Latinas are very apologetic and we want to get it right all the time, and sometimes I have to have a tough conversation of why you didn’t get a role hoping that helps you prepare for the next one. I do a lot of candid conversations and coaching,” she says.
Part of building her own career legacy is guiding others. “I’m not at the tippy top but I’m at a good place,” she admits. “It helps propel your own career when you are helping others achieve their dreams, it really does something to motivate you.”