Kat Garcia, Growth Architect In Corporate Venture Capital And Founder Of The Corporate Diary

Laveta Brigham

OwnTrail This Trailblazers series takes a look at the pivotal milestones that make up the life trails of inspiring women from a diverse array of backgrounds and experiences. We all know what social media profiles display about the end results women have achieved. This series is intended to take a […]

This Trailblazers series takes a look at the pivotal milestones that make up the life trails of inspiring women from a diverse array of backgrounds and experiences. We all know what social media profiles display about the end results women have achieved. This series is intended to take a deeper, more authentic look at the journeys they have taken to get there. 

Kathleen Garcia-Manjarres (Kat Garcia) is a Growth Architect at BCG Digital Ventures working in Corporate Venture Capital and the founder of The Corporate Diary, a blog and video series focused on sharing female perspectives in male dominated fields. Her career has spanned acting, entrepreneurship, management consulting, and venture capital, and has taken her from Montreal to San Francisco to New York City. 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 has blazed, I got the chance to ask her some questions.

Rebekah Bastian: Your career path has been far from linear, winding through varying roles in entertainment, technology, finance and entrepreneurship. Did you always envision having this kind of versatility in your accomplishments, or did they unfold as you went? 

Kat Garcia: Culturally, I was always encouraged to be multi-faceted. As a second-generation Canadian, my Colombian parents instilled the need to be well-rounded. There was no concept of left brain / right brain, and I never envisioned my life’s path as a linear one.

My personal experiences tied to my identity have also led me to being versatile. I’ve never reached my goals by just working hard nor playing by the rules. I’ve often had to create my own, and as Alex Banayan would state, I’ve gone through ‘the third door’.

For instance, as a woman, I was systematically discouraged from studying Finance. I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into what most women were expected to be – Marketers – nor have to defend my quantitative abilities. I’m creative but also analytical. It’s why I ended up completing a triple concentration during my Bachelors of Commerce: Finance, Marketing and Information Systems. 

Similarly, when I had my recurring principal role on television show, Tactik, I was one of the only minorities in the network. I was also the only principal actor with no press rights. It really upset me, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I used my YouTube and website to gain online traction bringing my offline fanbase to my own Kat Garcia Online channels – creating the platform I use today!

Bastian: How did your own experiences as a Latina working in male-dominated fields lead you to start The Corporate Diary? 

Garcia: In my early 20’s, people praised the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ professional and corporate culture. I, instead, 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 downplay their diversity to get ahead? If so, how did they navigate the emotional toll of having to code switch on a daily basis? 

The Corporate Diary is how I began to marry my passion for content strategy, business and the many journeys I was going to embark on after ending my acting career. I began documenting my journey as a management consultant, giving my viewers an insight into my new role and career. I realized that women and minorities needed a realistic insight into a world that has predominantly been viewed through the white-male gaze. 

It has been one of my most freeing projects.

Bastian: You’ve lived in several different cities across four countries, and have interviewed women from a broad variety of backgrounds. Have you observed certain experiences and perspectives that women share in common across geographies and cultures? 

Garcia: Across the board, women have been held back due to their gender in many more ways than we like to admit. 

Every woman has a story. The problem is, we are not yet at a point where we can share them openly. Women don’t want to come forward because it ultimately raises the sentiment that they must have done something wrong to deserve mistreatment in the first place. To succeed, we’ll silence ourselves in the hopes of avoiding being called overly sensitive.

Bastian: How have you managed to find or create roles that flex both your creative and strategic skill sets, and what advice do you have for other women looking for those types of careers? 

Garcia: I’ve created most of my roles, and it’s always been a matter of understanding what I want my life to look like – not just my career.

I am not defined by my job, but my heart is connected to the tactical work. Investing, building and growing digital experiences – the future – while advocating for real diversity of thought and action in companies is how I’ve found peace with what I do. Using my gifts and encouraging advocacy is how I’ve found freedom. I am no longer afraid, trusting I will not allow others to strip me of my voice again.

I’ve taken RyanAir flights from Glasgow to London to meet with the founders of companies I wanted to work at. I’ve slept on my friends’ couches in Vancouver and New York to pitch the roles I ultimately ended up created for myself. I’ve gotten into management consulting recruitment cocktails literally through third doors without invitations. I spent a lot of my savings sending physical business portfolios and projects via mail to important executives while calling them too many times. My favorite response has been: ‘You’ve left me 7 voicemails. You’ve got 5 minutes to tell me what you want’. I got pivotal advice out of that phone conversation, by the way. The list goes on.

Ultimately, creating roles that strengthen and amplify your voice is a matter of understanding what your superpowers are. Women and minorities don’t just have to work harder, we have to be more creative in finding those third doors. Use the rules in your favor while rewriting the narrative in a way that works for you. 

Bastian: I love the aspiration you shared about finding a balance between always working towards the next big milestone, and being content in the moment. What practices help you to find that balance? 

Garcia: I’ve struggled with living in the future my entire life. I’ve learned the hard way that there’s only so much control I have over my life. I can do everything right but if that next milestone isn’t for me or in the way I think it’s supposed to be, forcing things will never lead down a good path. 

I’ve been practicing meditation through prayer. I’m learning to listen, and to understand how to do my part in working towards my goals without fear of them not coming to fruition. 

I am grateful, and have faith.

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