Alexandra Navarro women in tech global awards 2023

    Reflecting on My Journey

    Reflecting on your recognition as a Women in Tech Global Awards 2023 winner, could you describe your journey to this achievement in your specific award category? What does this recognition signify for you personally and professionally, and how does it encapsulate your contributions to the tech industry? 

    This Chief in Tech Gold award is meaningful to me for so many reasons! When I was 25 years old, I moved from Colombia to the United States to start my life all over again. 
    Like many who immigrate to the U.S., I had to work on my English and begin a new career. I started my own business, and eventually joined the nonprofit world, using what I had learned to help Latin American youth and Latinas get the skills and connections they needed for rewarding careers in STEM. 
    As I talked with the executives at large tech companies I realized that no one I was talking to looked like me. Instead of just being an advisor, a mentor, and a consultant to other Latinas aspiring to join the C suite, I needed to get there myself. 
    In 2022 I joined Paystand as Chief of Staff. I provided a Latin American (and female) representation on the C Suite when we acquired Mexico-based Yaydoo—a leader in accounts payable—and became a $1 billion unicorn. 
    For me, this recognition is not just about ‘Alexandra’—this proves what I’ve been saying to women all along—that no matter your background, you can achieve your dreams.

    Tech Industry's Most Rewarding Aspects

    In your experience, what is the most rewarding aspect of working in the tech industry, and how has it influenced your career path? 

    The most rewarding part of working in the tech industry is being able to affect real change. If you see a broken or outdated way of doing things, you can be the one to fix it. 

    When we’re kids, we may see people we want to help, but we don’t have the means to do it. For me, I saw many people in Colombia who did not have the opportunities that I had – to get a university education, for example. Many of us here in the U.S. achieved these dreams through the ability to get a loan and then pay it back. Many other people—particularly in Latin America—are “unbanked” and don’t have this option. 
    When I saw how decentralized finance and the Blockchain create a system that can serve anyone—wherever they live—a light came on for me. With my organization Paystand, I am in the process of launching a foundation to provide capital and tech for social impact initiatives to support financial education and further financial inclusion in Latin America.  
    One of the things that holds our current financial system back is the problem of trust. Credit card companies for example charge percentage-based fees on each and every transaction because they need to ensure that money will reach its destination. At Paystand, we’re developing blockchain architecture that allows people to send funds to each other across borders with no transactional fees. The goal is to help individuals and small businesses to maximize their profits. Creating these kinds of opportunities for others is what I love most about working in tech.

    My Tech Career Milestone

    Could you share a defining moment or a key achievement in your tech career that has been particularly impactful or meaningful to you?

    One, I was working for a local nonprofit Digital NEST as a business consultant and senior director, helping Latin American youth develop STEM skills by working with local businesses. A student came and showed me an exceptional résumé for entrance into the tech industry, but what he said next broke my heart: “I’m only getting callbacks for janitor positions.” At that moment I made it my goal that he and every other Latinx student we worked with who excelled in STEM would have the connections they need to make it into the careers they dream about. Today I’ll get calls from former students (including him) who’ve been able to capitalize on the real-world connections and experience they gained from Digital NEST. Getting a call that says, “Hey! I made it. I’m working in New York now,” is how I know that my work made a real difference. 
    The second defining moment for me was recognizing what my role as Chief of Staff really entails. Being Chief of Staff is not about ego, or about bossing people around. In a multinational company like Paystand, it means that I can unite my team around a common purpose and that we can accomplish change as a group—both within our organizational culture and externally—that we could never achieve as individuals. I am where I am today because my gifted team is willing and eager to go there with me, and the sky is the limit! That’s what it means to be “Chief in Tech.”  

    Empowering Women in Tech: Career Advice and Tips

    From your experience, what essential advice and practical tips would you offer to women aspiring women in tech to establish a successful career? 

    It’s talked about a lot, but as women, one of the biggest challenges we face is work-life balance. We not only have goals and aspirations for ourselves, we also want to lift others. I have three kids. 
    It was actually through my experience of burning out that I wrote my first book, ‘How to Balance Your Life.’ The premise of the book is that we as human beings are not just worker bees. We also have goals for our relationships, finances, health, and spiritual dimensions. It’s very important that we know what they are. 
    Establishing a successful career does not only mean ‘burning the candle’ at both ends. Sometimes we just accept the unexpected gifts that come our way.

    Who would you recommend to join the WomenTech Network, and why?

    I would recommend the WomenTech Network to anyone who wants to listen to the real stories of how women are making it in tech. Thank you for providing this forum for all of us to share how we got to where we are and to lift one another up.