STEM Innovation of Tomorrow
By Gloria Romano-Barrera
Continued growth in STEM industry jobs means increased opportunities in STEM occupations, however, in a 2018
Pew Research Center report, Hispanics were shown to be significantly underrepresented in the STEM workforce.
According to the report, Hispanics only hold seven percent of STEM jobs, less than half the size of their share in the
U.S. workforce (16 percent). Meet two dedicated and innovative Latinas, Yhanira L. Adán Martínez at USAA, and
Itzel Martinez at Pandora, who did not miss any opportunity to accomplish their goals in the STEM field.
Yhanira L. Adán Martínez
Assistant Vice President
HR Operational Excellence
A first-generation Mexican born and raised in Eagle Pass, TX, Yhanira
L. Adán Martínez is the youngest of eight children and was the first
to venture off to college receiving a bachelor’s degree from the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Management Science.
After 10 years away from family, first at college in Boston and then at
Hewlett-Packard’s headquarters in Palo Alto, CA, she felt it was time to
return home since her parent were getting older and wanted to grow some roots
with her immediate family and son.
“San Antonio was the closest I could be to my hometown, Eagle Pass, and
still have a corporate job,” she shares. “USAA stood out as an employer of choice.
I visited its website, read the mission and quickly applied. Talk about timing and
opportunity: they were looking for individuals with my specific skills and
background and was quickly flown in for an interview. The day after the interview
I received a phone call with an offer and an opportunity to start in two weeks. I
ended my job with HP after eight years on a Friday and reported in for my
next chapter that following Monday. To this day I credit God for lining up every
opportunity and obstacle I have encountered. Each one of them has led me to
where I am today.”
As a first-generation Latina, her values are heavily influenced by the
upbringing of her Mexican-born, Catholic and traditional parents.
“To say my family greatly impacted
me and my work ethic would be an
understatement. I still struggle with
being an overachiever because of that
influence,” she shares. “We also love
hard. When we care for people, we
really care. Being the youngest of eight
children I always felt loved and
supported. Honesty and integrity are
also nonnegotiable and for that reason
I always extend trust immediately –
given for someone to keep or lose
based on their actions.”
After joining USAA in 2007 she
furthered her education receiving an
MBA from the University of Texas at San
Antonio. During her tenure at the
financial services company in San
Yhanira L. Adán Martínez.
Antonio, she has held several leadership roles, most recently the Assistant
Vice President responsible for HR Operational Excellence. She leads a team
that focuses on improving employee experiences as well as building a
financially-sound foundation across HR capabilities for the enterprise.
She currently co-sponsors and was also highly involved in USAA’s launch
of Elevate, a gender diversity and inclusion business group. She is also an active
member of Aspire, a DBG that focuses on advancing women in technology. Her
true passion lies in developing others and creating conditions for people to
succeed. She inspires others by sharing her journey from childhood to college,
from IT to Marketing, and most recently from the Business to HR.
“Hispanic mentors are very limited, especially as you move up the
executive ladder,” she shares. “If you picture the pyramid distribution of women
in the workforce, we represent half and about 50 percent of entry roles. That
representation shrinks significantly to about 15 percent as you move up into
C-suite positions, and the same applies to people of color. While it would be great
to see more Latinas in executive positions, some of my best mentors were not of
my heritage. Don’t just focus on finding someone who looks like you: look for
someone who genuinely cares about developing you, someone who challenges
you and holds you accountable, someone who shares their personal experiences
with you – successes and failures – and someone who serves as your advocate
when needed. I looked for people who were great leaders, knew the business and
who I would personally work for if the opportunity came up. Seek good quality
mentors, invest in a brand that you respect, and as you advance your career, pay
30 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle V ol. 26, No. 4, 2020