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How I Got Here: Chief People Officer on a mission to fix as many companies as she can
Lorraine Vargas Townsend is a survivor. She survived growing up in a town where she didn’t always feel welcome as a Latina and a lesbian. She survived cancer – twice – including during her first year in college.
These experiences fueled an activism in Lorraine—a desire to stand up for the underdog – which she’s made the singlehanded focus of her career. Lorraine has made it her life mission to fix as many companies as she can to ensure that everyone -- no matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation – is treated with dignity and respect in the workplace. Today, she works on that mission in her role as Chief People Guru at A Cloud Guru, a modern tech skills development platform. Listen to our interview with Lorraine here to hear her full story.
Our takeaways from the episode:
Lorraine brings her lived experiences into the work that she does everyday. When a patron at a grocery store said racist things about Lorraine’s mom, who worked behind the deli counter, Lorraine vowed to change the working world and rid it of discrimination before her own daughter turns 18 years old.
What are you willing to put your badge on the table for? For Lorraine, it comes down to dignity and respect. When she learned that she got paid 46% less than the male counterparts at one company she worked, she demanded more. When the company offered her her dream role with her dream projects and a pay increase — but not one that put her on equal footing with her male peers — she knew she had to quit.
Lorraine shared strategies for making change from within an organization even when those at the top aren’t super supportive. One of them is what she calls the “let the toothpaste out of the tube” approach. In other words, this approach entails releasing her ideas and recommendations to everyone within an organization, bypassing the politics and bureaucracies involved in getting leadership approvals.
Derek Wong shares how punches, tackles, and blows propelled his professional goals.
When Derek took a role as the head coach for the Manchester Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy’s Muay Thai program, he feared it would be a deviation from his career goals in marketing. Instead though, training and coaching in martial arts ended up fueling his marketing career by enabling Derek to rediscover discipline, passion for achievement, and how to channel his anxiety into progress.
Read Derek’s full story here for more on how he found clarity through martial arts.