WOMEN IN HIGH-TECH
In this installment of our Women in High Tech series, I speak to the remarkable Gloria Fernández Polín, a woman driven by discipline, dedication, and a positive can-do attitude.
Gloria is one of the leading female marketing voices at our Swiss partner Squirro, and she is living proof that hard work and a willingness to improve pay off.
In this interview, Gloria tells me about her background as a journalist, her work at Squirro, and how she mastered the German language in less than a year.
Partner Success Marketing Manager
Creator of the Women in High-Tech Series
Technology is a powerful tool to augment human capabilities and to be more efficient. To drive better sales, to write better content, and to reach out better and engage with your audience, it doesn’t matter what your professional goal is.
Gloria Fernández Polín
Marketing Director EMEA & Asia at Squirro
Gloria works as the Marketing Director for EMEA and Asia at Squirro in Zurich, Switzerland. She has a rich and diverse background in Communication, Digital Marketing, and Export.
Gloria, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you moved from your native country Spain to Switzerland ?
I was born in Galicia, in the north of Spain and I moved to Switzerland in 2017. My husband and I relocated here and I thought it was a great opportunity for me to keep progressing in my professional career. This step came with a lot of challenges because we didn’t have any connections here in Switzerland.
No friends or professional network. On top of that, we didn’t speak German. That was a perfect example of stepping out of your comfort zone with all the struggles and challenges involved. Five years later, we are very much enjoying our life in Switzerland, with very good friends and a growing network of brilliant professionals!
My experience has been that Swiss people are especially welcoming of other cultures since the country itself is so diverse because so many people from different backgrounds come to live here. Galicians actually make up a significant part of the population in Switzerland due to the fact that many of them relocated there from Spain in the 1960s and 1970s.
You managed to obtain a C1 certificate in German within just one year. That is an impressive achievement !
In 2017, my daily life changed with our relocation to Switzerland. Given the fact that I owned a marketing company in Spain, I led a very active life that required a set schedule. Being in a foreign country, with no connections and even no clue about the language, changed everything.
I understood the need to learn German from both a professional and personal perspective. I’m a very social person, so the need and wish to communicate were definitely there and motivated me to learn this new language. I took a look at the gaps that I had and understood that if I wanted to have a professional career in Switzerland, I would have to learn the national language of the country. After identifying the gaps, I developed an action plan with timelines and milestones. I decided to give myself one year, so I closed my marketing agency and decided to focus on one thing only learning German.
I would like to thank my German teacher and coach, Tobias Woelke. Without his constant support and dedication, it would have been very hard for me to achieve that goal.
How do you tackle such challenges and navigate through difficult times in life ?
I keep the bigger picture in mind. We all run into situations where we struggle and doubt ourselves. But even through the ups and downs, you need to keep going and stick to your action plan. It is so important to stay consistent and motivate yourself throughout challenging times. In my case, it also helped me to imagine my near future and the actual accomplishment of my goals. That encouraged me to not give up and navigate through the hardest challenges.
What was your next goal, after you perfected your German ?
Definitely to find a job. So funnily enough, my first job interview at my previous job (Cisco) was with Roberto Arenas, a very inspiring person, coming from Mexico and, of course, a native Spanish speaker (laughs). So I had a great time, and I got the job right off the bat. It was a good experience for me.
I did not come from a corporate background and was happy to see that my dedication and focus paid off. Then I worked for Cisco for a year and a half. I felt I wanted to expand my professional career, and then the opportunity with Squirro came along.
So in your Role as Marketing Director EMEA & Asia at Squirro. What is it that you do on a daily basis ?
My job is really diverse and I enjoy it greatly. I manage the marketing activities for EMEA and APAC. Apart from that, I manage different marketing areas such as content and social media, as well as events. That means that I am constantly in touch with many stakeholders, both internal and external. I especially enjoy the coordinating part of my job because I’m a social person and as such, I appreciate being in touch with people, working together with them, or engaging in interesting conversations.
You talk about your job which such passion. What did you want to do when growing up ?
Since I was a child, it was clear to me that I wanted to work in the field of communication and pursue a career as a journalist. I come from a family of journalists and knew that I wanted to tell stories. I studied Journalism and had the chance to work as a newscaster for television and news agencies In the early 2000s, the situation in Spain was particularly difficult. It was challenging to find a job and journalism wasn’t very well-paid or valued. You were not really free to do your job properly, so I decided to quit and move from journalism to marketing and PR.
How did your background as a journalist helped you to succeed in marketing ?
Marketing and Communications is a very creative field and allows me to create and develop stories, which I really enjoy. Especially in communications, we act as a bridge between providing interesting information to the audience while simultaneously understanding the needs of the business. During my time as a journalist, I loved to build these relationships and bridges between journalists and companies and to find a common space where both parties are satisfied and benefit.
Gloria, you moved from journalism to marketing into high-tech . What is keeping you in high-tech and where is your fascination for it coming from ?
I love to have constant opportunities to learn. Nowadays, the way the high-tech industry is evolving is fascinating. I joined Squirro in 2020, right before the COVID pandemic, which had a huge impact on the usage of technology. In these two and a half years, our industry has changed and evolved a lot. So the chance to learn new things and to keep progressing and growing is what amazes me.
What is technology to you ?
I see technology as a tool to augment human capabilities, do more, and be more efficient.
To drive better sales, to write better content, and to reach out better and engage with your audience, it doesn’t matter what your professional goal is. With technology, you can certainly achieve your goals. Faster and more efficient. So it’s the driving force behind innovation.
It is a tool at the disposal of humans. That’s very important because here at Squirro we are part of the AI environment, and so many times AI is related to replacing humans, but the truth is that AI and related technologies will never replace humans, but instead act as tools to make us better every day.
How do you try to raise awareness that AI isn't out to replace humans, but rather to help us perform better?
So the best way, in my opinion, is to showcase our success stories with customers and partners. We are driving diverse projects with lots of different customers. Thanks to this advanced technology, their teams are able to increase their efficiency, get rid of manual and tedious work and accelerate their growth.
Gloria, it has become apparent that discipline is one of your strong suits. How did you develop this important skill ?
Thank you. I do like to plan. (laughs) I had to develop a certain level of discipline throughout my life. As I told you, I had my own marketing agency, and without me being disciplined, I would have never been able to succeed in this field, especially as a female entrepreneur. I had to manage a group of people from different departments and align lots of tasks simultaneously. That required planning, structure, and, as you said, discipline.
How do you balance your personal and professional life ?
So that’s a very important question because it is not easy to find balance. I sometimes also find it enjoyable to take time away from technology and embrace just the here and now.
Last summer, I went to explore the Swiss Alps with my husband in our motorhome, and I only brought a mobile phone with no internet connection just to take pictures. We had no access to email, business accounts, or social media because there was also no need for that.
The key point of this vacation was to relax. I didn’t feel the need to check my social media or connect to the online sphere. I just wanted to be in the moment, take in the beauty of the Alps, and share this moment alone with my husband. That was very special. I didn’t see it as a detox but as a natural evolution.
Thank you for this great interview, Gloria.
Thank you. I had fun.
Can’t get enough of inspiring women in tech? Read my latest interview with Ioanna Lytra from the Semantic Web Company.