Kat Garcia, Enterprise Venture Capital Growth Architect and Founder of The Corporate Diary
This Trailblazers series takes a look at the essential milestones that make up the life journeys of inspiring women from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. We all know what social media profiles post about the bottom line results women get. This series is meant to take a deeper and more authentic look at the journeys they’ve taken to get there.
Kathleen Garcia-Manjarres (Kat garcia) is a growth architect at BCG Digital Ventures working in enterprise venture capital and the founder of The corporate agenda, a blog and video series focused on sharing female perspectives in male dominated fields. Her career has spanned theater, entrepreneurship, management consulting and venture capital, and has taken her from Montreal to San Francisco and New York. As a Latina in entertainment and business, Kat is passionate about amplifying women’s voices and experiences.
After learning more about the trail that Kat soared, I had the chance to ask him a few questions.
Rebecca Bastian: Your career path has been far from linear, spanning various roles in entertainment, technology, finance and entrepreneurship. Have you always envisioned having this kind of versatility in your accomplishments, or did it unfold as you progressed?
Kat Garcia: Culturally, I have always been encouraged to be versatile. As a second generation Canadian, my Colombian parents instilled in me the need to be well balanced. There was no concept of left brain / right brain, and I never saw the path in my life as a linear path.
My personal experiences linked to my identity have also led me to be versatile. I never achieved my goals by working hard or playing by the rules. I often had to create my own, and like Alex Banayan would say, I went through “the third gate”.
For example, as a woman, I was systematically discouraged from studying finance. I didn’t want to be locked into what most women were supposed to be – marketers – or having to defend my quantitative abilities. I am creative but also analytical. This is why I ended up achieving a triple concentration during my Bachelors of Commerce: Finance, Marketing and Information Systems.
Likewise, when I had my recurring lead role on the Tactik TV show, I was one of the only minorities on the network. I was also the only main actor without press rights. It really shocked me, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I have used my YouTube and website to gain traction online, bringing my offline fan base to my own Kat Garcia Online channels – creating the platform I use today!
Bastien: How did your own experiences as a Latina working in male-dominated fields lead you to start The Corporate Diary?
Garcia: In their early twenties, people praised the “Wolf of Wall Street” professional and corporate culture. Instead, I was more fascinated to understand how people who looked like me did in such spaces. What were their experiences? Did they need to diminish their femininity or minimize their diversity in order to move forward? If so, how did they overcome the emotional burden of having to change code on a daily basis?
The corporate journal is how I started to marry my passion for content strategy, business and the many journeys I would take after the end of my acting career. I started documenting my journey as a management consultant, giving my viewers a glimpse into my new role and career. I realized that women and minorities needed a realistic glimpse of a world that was mostly seen through the eyes of white men.
It has been one of my most liberating projects.
Bastien: You have lived in several different cities in four countries and interviewed women from a wide variety of backgrounds. Have you observed some experiences and perspectives that women share across geographies and cultures?
Garcia: Overall, women have been held up because of their gender in more ways than we would like to admit.
Every woman has a story. The problem is, we are not yet at the point where we can share them openly. Women don’t want to come forward because it ultimately creates a feeling that they must have done something wrong to deserve abuse in the first place. In order to be successful, we will be silent in the hope of avoiding being labeled as overly sensitive.
Bastien: How did you manage to find or create roles that fit both your creative and strategic skills, and what advice do you have for other women looking for this type of career?
Garcia: I’ve created most of my roles, and it’s always been about figuring out what I want my life to be like – not just my career.
I am not defined by my work, but my heart is tied to tactical work. Investing, building and developing digital experiences – the future – while advocating for a real diversity of thought and action in companies, this is how I found peace with what I do. Using my gifts and encouraging advocacy is how I found freedom. I am no longer afraid, confident that I will no longer allow others to deprive me of my voice.
I took RyanAir flights from Glasgow to London to meet the founders of the companies I wanted to work for. I slept on my friends’ sofas in Vancouver and New York to perform the roles I ultimately created for myself. I threw myself into management consulting recruiting cocktails literally through third doors without invitations. I’ve spent a large chunk of my savings mailing physical activity portfolios and projects to important executives while calling them too often. My favorite response was: “You left me 7 voicemail messages. You have 5 minutes to tell me what you want. By the way, I got some essential advice from that phone conversation. The list goes on.
Ultimately, creating roles that strengthen and amplify your voice is all about understanding your superpowers. Women and minorities don’t just have to work harder, we need to be more creative to find those third doors. Use the rules in your favor while rewriting the narrative in a way that works for you.
Bastien: I love the aspiration you shared to find a balance between always working for the next big step and being happy with the moment. What practices help you find this balance?
Garcia: I have struggled to live in the future all my life. I have learned the hard way that there is only some control over my life. I can do anything right, but if this next step isn’t for me or as I think it’s meant to be, forcing things will never get you on the right track.
I practiced meditation through prayer. I learn to listen and understand how to do my part to achieve my goals without worrying that they will materialize.
I am thankful and I have faith.