Ana Villegas is the Chief Marketing Officer at NI, a tech company that has developed automated test and automated measurement systems that help engineers solve the world’s toughest challenges for more than 40 years.
In her role as CMO, Ana leads NI’s global marketing organization and ensures the organization supports their customers and the incredible businesses they lead. NI’s technology helps engineers test and measure the performance of their products, ensuring quality and speeding the pace of innovation in our world.
With many years of marketing experience across both consumer and B2B organizations, Ana is a frequent speaker at international conferences on B2B digital and modern marketing, diversity and corporate social responsibility topics.
Additionally she proudly serves on the board of Latinitas, a non-profit focused on empowering girls to innovate through media and technology.
As a Latina in STEM, Ana knows first hand the biases and challenges that many women face in this field. Through her work as a leader and mentor she is helping to break those biases and create opportunities for young Latinas in STEM.
“My childhood set me down a path that didn’t include a career in technology,” she says of her childhood in Peru where she attended an all-girls school where traditional expectations for women were placed on her.
“The expectation for women was to get married, have children, and take care of the home. And my schooling very much reflected those priorities – I learned to cook, sew, and do other household chores. However, I knew I wanted more,” Ana continues.
“I worked hard and actively sought out challenging opportunities. I spent time studying engineering despite growing up in an environment that reinforced a limited view of what women can – or should – accomplish. I knew many of those around me had doubts about my plans, but I didn’t allow their doubts to influence me and each accomplishment pushed me further.”
It was not easy, but Ana kept moving forward on the path she created for herself. She built her own future, seeking opportunities and finding success where others had doubted her.
Eventually, she would immigrate to the United States from Peru to attend the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University where she received her Masters of Business with a focus in Marketing. Since then, she has worked in marketing roles at Dole Food Company, Dell, and NI.
“My advice to others: do not let others’ doubts influence your opinion of yourself. Celebrate every victory and know you can achieve anything if you stay focused and work hard.”
Latinas in STEM need mentors
Another important piece of advice Ana has learned throughout her career is the power of mentors, especially for young Latinas.
“I have a 10-year-old daughter so it’s important to her future that she has role models and individuals who are there for her. I want her to understand that she’s capable of anything if she puts forth the effort, focuses, and sets ambitious goals for herself.”
In her work as a board member of Latinitas, Ana strives to empower young Latinas and help them cultivate confidence in their abilities and ambitions.
Through after-school clubs, camps, events and publications, and channels, Latinitas provides a space, both in the physical and online, for girls to express themselves, develop their skills, learn about their culture and discover their unique voice.
Latinitas aims to bridge the gap in access to education and careers in technology and achievement of women in media and STEAM fields. The organization builds future leaders in STEAM who advocate for themselves and their communities and creates a culturally conscious environment that instills pride in identity and a sense of inclusion.
“I’m so proud of the community we’ve created at Latinitas and excited to see these young women flourish as they chart their professional paths.”
You might be interested: Puerto Rican neurotoxicologist Alexandra Colón-Rodríguez is promoting Latinas in STEM
Ana’s own experiences with mentors and mentorship has opened doors for her and helped her grow into the leader she is today.
“While working at Dell, I was fortunate to find a mentor in Carla Piñeyro Sublett,” she recounts. “She was serving in a Latin America leadership role and asked me to join her newly formed team. But I wanted to continue on in a more globally-focused trajectory, so I declined. That was a nerve-wracking moment and answer to give someone who had counseled and helped me in my professional growth journey, but it turned out fine. Years later, when she became the CMO at NI, she called and we finally got the opportunity to work together.”
Today, Ana is able to give back as a leader and mentor herself. As an executive in her field, her priority is to help develop future leaders. Knowing first hand the challenges minority individuals can face in the industry, Ana focuses on understanding and embracing the unique perspectives and voices each person brings to a discussion.
“We must set aside our own biases to understand others’ experiences and viewpoints,” she says. “This builds trust, appreciation for one another, and ultimately helps people grow. My ‘superpowers’ are my abilities to listen and to help others overcome adversity in a way that’s authentic to them.”
Ana’s parting words of advice to women interested in pursuing a career in STEM is to surround yourself with others who will uplift and support you when you face challenges and to be your own strongest advocate.
“Speak and live your truth and don’t be afraid to voice your perspective or challenge traditional ways of thinking. Own your authenticity and the personal power it affords you.”