Photo courtesy of the Expedia Group.
“My favorite aspect of the culture at Expedia Group is the people who work here,” Marina Gaytan, a senior product manager based in Chicago, says. “Everyone works hard but also knows how to have fun, resulting in an environment where you feel welcomed.”
Gaytan has been in her role with the company for two and a half years, though her product experience dates back 13 years. She manages particular products and works with the development, design, research, analytics and marketing teams, among others, to build solutions for travelers’ and partners’ needs. Gaytan also serves as the vice president on the global board for the company’s inclusion business group, Latinx at Expedia Group and Allies for Development (LEAD).
“As the vice president, I work closely with the members on the global board to drive the strategic direction and ensure we meet our goals,” she says. “I also help with the expansion of our membership and creation of new local chapters.”
Gaytan tells Fairygodboss that the inclusive and collaborative culture and the growth experiences she’s had with LEAD are two of the major reasons she (and other women) love working at Expedia Group.
“I have benefited greatly from the guidance of my mentors in pursuing new opportunities and learning about different parts of the organization,” she explains. “In the past few years, I have also mentored others, which has allowed me to grow my leadership skills and network. Expedia Group also organizes multiple training workshops and courses that have helped me to grow in my product role.”
We caught up with Gaytan to learn more about how Expedia Group supports her and other women in tech, as well as what she’s learned from her mentors throughout her career and her own advice for women as a mentor herself. Here’s what she has to say.
I am currently working on projects to enhance the traveler experiences in our business-to-business (B2B) segment for our airline, hotel and bank partners’ travel sites. Some of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of working on these projects involve user research studies to analyze customer behavior. It’s humbling and a great learning experience to hear directly from customers on what is most important to them or to discover what their biggest challenges are when shopping online. It’s also exciting to work on enhancements to the site and measure the impact it has to customers.
The biggest challenge I faced being a woman in tech early in my career was the lack of diversity in the room. This may not seem like a challenge; however, I’ve observed cultural differences and changes in behavior when more women are present in meetings.
If you are one of a few or the only woman in a room, it can be intimidating or challenging to be an active participant in a meeting or ask questions. I have discovered that asking questions or scheduling follow-up sessions to learn more have helped me a lot.
Most of my proudest achievements center around the work my team and I collaborate on together for the new enhancements that are rolled out on the site. It’s rewarding to me when a friend or family member comments on something that I’ve had an influence on and they enjoyed using on the site. I’m also proud to have been involved in a few winning hackathon ideas.
I’ve also been an active member of our Inclusion and Diversity groups at Expedia Group and enjoy mentoring others or answering questions for students related to the tech field. And I’m proud of the contributions we’ve made externally in the community through various volunteer and charity fundraiser events.
Yes! The company has a mentorship program, online training courses and an employee resource group with many references to programs or materials targeted specifically at women.
My biggest strengths are adapting to any environment or team and meeting objectives because I am ambitious, observant, inquisitive, competitive and an effective communicator and leader.
I can’t recall where I heard or read this, but it has stuck with me: “Be clear and ask for what you want and create your northstar/vision, and, one day, it will become your reality.” This resonates with me after reading so many success stories of athletes, musicians, business executives, etc., because they often reference how, when they faced adversity, they would refer to their northstar that helped them push forward.
List the skills or experience you would like to gain and identify a few people you can meet with to learn from. If you don’t know anyone or are unsure of where to start, you can ask your manager or HR if there is a mentorship program that can help you meet others in the organization. It is okay to have multiple mentors, especially if you are learning different skills or information from them. And it’s okay to change mentors as you evolve in your career.
Keep a list of your accomplishments and the feedback you receive from your colleagues or manager. This will help on a number of levels:
The list of accomplishments and positive feedback will be a great source for you to note on your resume and reference in job interviews.
Receiving feedback, both positive and constructive, will help you to identify what you are good at and where you can improve. Over time, you will have a great reference to see how you have grown and measure the areas where you have improved.
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