Inspirational Woman: Paloma Marin | European Regional Director, WEConnect International

Meet Paloma Marin

European Regional Director, WEConnect International

In this piece, we caught up with Paloma Marin, Regional Director for Europe at WEConnect International. We talk to her about her career journey, how her family played a part in her success and what advice she would give to her younger self.

I am Paloma Marin, a woman with a free and wild soul, in the constant search for growth and expansion.

I have changed lives several times, starting with leaving my native country (Spain) at the age of 3 and having grown up until the age of 20 in different countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This life experience has made me a woman without fear of change, very curious and very aware of the infinite ways of inhabiting the world.

My interest in human behavior constantly pushes me to enrich my knowledge to better serve the world. Although I studied a degree in International Relations and Political Science in the UK and started my professional career in the field of marketing for large companies in Silicon Valley, I have not stopped professionally forming myself. I am certified as a Life Coach and in ThetaHealing.

In my professional life I have taken on many challenges – jumping into the unknown on several occasions to explore other areas of myself that I am interested in discovering and developing. After many years in the world of technology, I changed my career path to dedicate myself to the economic empowerment of women, as the Regional Director for Europe at WEConnect International. WEConnect International is a global non-profit organisation with a mission to drive more money into the hands of women-owned businesses, enabling them to connect with some of the largest buying organisations in the world and succeed in global value chains.

I have lived several lives in one, and it excites me to think that there are still many more to live.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I would love to say that I did, but the reality is that I didn’t, it took me a long time to know what I wanted to do. I finished my degree in International Relations & Political Science and thought I would go into that line of work. Instead I ended up starting my career in big Tech. From an early age, I always had a strong calling for serving others, specifically women. I found ways to do this through my corporate job, leading the women in tech network, but eventually I knew I wanted to do more. My career moves have been driven by my purpose and my passion; I have let these by my GPS. That is how I ended up at WEConnect International, and so far, it is worked out quite well.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Absolutely, I think one of my biggest challenges is that I struggled with impostor syndrome for a long time. I started my career in an industry that was hugely male dominated, not only was I often the only woman in the room but also the youngest by far. It took a lot of internal work to overcome it and see the fact that I was 1.) a woman and 2.) much younger than everyone in the room – as a huge advantage. It allowed me to think differently, to bring diversity of thought, strategy, and perspective.

Something that really helped me was having conversations with senior peers that I admired. The more I vulnerably opened up, the more I realised that everyone I spoke to (including individuals in executive level positions) felt or had felt the same way at some point in their careers. Know you are not alone. A few other things that helped: distinguishing humility and fear. Letting go of perfectionism. Keing kind to myself. Tracking my success – I cannot emphasize this enough. Talk with your mentor or someone more tenured that you really admire. Always say “Yes” to opportunities.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

My family. I attribute a large part of my success to them. They have instilled in me that the only limit to my success and to achieving my dreams is myself. They taught me to believe in myself wholeheartedly which translated into everything I set myself out to do.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality in organisations, what would it be?

Commit: Build the case among senior management, understand current gaps, acknowledge bias, set targets, and communicate the benefits of promoting gender parity across the organization. Embed change by creating programmes that address your company’s core concerns, inclusive of efforts to address pay gaps, parental leave, performance reviews, hiring processes, mentoring, sponsoring, and safety and management training. Scale your initiative beyond your company and promote change in your industry, community, value chains and wider society

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

You don’t have to work twice as hard to prove your worth. It is a mistake that ends up taking its toll and your success will not depend on it, it can even harm you. Learn to say no. Do not push yourself so much, have a personal life, balance your life. Always train yourself in the specific areas you need and work on your (feminine) leadership. Not everyone knows that we are born with leadership potential that we can increase during our lifetime. You can level up, be a better leader. Apply digital transformation to your veins if you have not already done so, generate networks with other women, and accompany them on their journey, support them. And seek happiness in everything you do; that is the most important.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to succesfully grow WEConnect International in Europe, to expand our reach so we can drive more money into the hands of women-owned businesses in the region. Grow our network of women-owned businesses as well as qualified buyers in Europe. There is so much untapped potential. Personally, I am also working to launch a podcast aimed at women – where I will talk about all sort of taboo topics and issues and the tools that have helped me over those issues to get to where I am today.

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