We often look for inspiring people among the world’s celebrities. The truth is that we are surrounded by stories of inspiring people, many of which are not public figures. Katherine Salazar is the perfect example. Having moved to the U.S. at 8 years old from her native Mexico City, she has lived in six states before settling in Phoenix, AZ where she’s raising her son. Not only is she a fighter and a role model for women advancement in the workplace but she’s also one of the most inspiring people you’ll meet in her industry. With an MBA from Point Park University and a Doctorate in Business Administration from Walden that she just recently completed, Katherine is the Associate Director, Consumer Healthcare Products at Valeant Pharmaceuticals. She focuses on Hispanic Marketing and is making a big difference by approaching her job with a deep interest in the community she serves.
What are some of the major changes you’ve seen in the last twenty years around women advancement in the workplace?
I started my career exactly 20 years ago in retail, when decisions were made in the golf course and women were not welcomed at dinner meetings (it happened to me!). I have seen some change in women advancement in the workplace but it is twofold. I am much more secure now about myself and what I can accomplish and that gives me the strength to approach my CEO with ideas and get approval to start new projects. That sense of empowerment and accomplishment has helped me open doors to new opportunities I could not have dreamed of 20 years ago. The industry is also changing and adapting to women leading at the highest levels. More needs to be done to have a balance of men and women leading organizations, but at least I feel we are getting closer to parity.
As a professional woman, what are some of the biggest challenges you face in your job and how do you manage to overcome them?
My biggest challenge in the last year and a half has been work-life-balance. As a mom, it is a constant challenge to ensure I give over 100% to my job and to my son every day. I can honestly say that it is impossible at times and more so when I have to travel. My hope is that my son can learn through my actions the importance of loving what you do and always giving it your best. As for work, I hope they understand that while my mind is at the office, my heart is always with my son.
We find you to be one of the most inspiring people in the industry. What inspires you, what do you find the most satisfying part of your work?
The most satisfying part of my job is when my marketing efforts make a difference in my consumers’ lives. I am very passionate about building cause-related marketing efforts that give back to the Hispanic community. This, by the way, is the topic of my doctoral study. At Valeant, through one of my brands, we have been giving a percentage of sales to a non-profit organization that helps Hispanic students enter college and graduate. We also give away scholarships, and when I learn the stories of the recipients, I feel proud of the work I do.
What advice do you have for women advancement in the workplace? Any particular suggestions for those who have unusual or challenging career goals?
Don’t take no for an answer! I started my marketing career when someone told me I couldn’t do it. A boss I had 12 years ago gave me a challenge looking forward to seeing me fail, as he had. To his surprise, I succeeded and was promoted out of his department and into marketing. Know what you want and fight for it with knowledge and hard work. And remember, ask for what you want. Don’t ever assume others above you know your goals. Be vocal and be visible.
Give us an example of how you’re currently pushing for women advancement in the workplace. What are you doing to help women fulfill their career goals?
I am a chapter leader of the Women’s Initiative Network at Valeant. Our goal is to help women at Valeant reach their career goals through mentoring, training, and development.
Could you mention one or more women who have helped you get to where you are now?
I have to thank my mom for teaching me how to be a strong woman and to not be afraid to fight for my dreams. She has been the strongest female influence and example I have had in my life.
You can contact Katherine directly at: Katherine.firstname.lastname@example.org