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Women in Business Q&A: Lisa Martin-Louro, Brand Experience Manager and Cultural Engineer, Dell

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Since joining Austin-based technology company DELL in 2007, Lisa Martin-Louro proves this every day as she hangs out with celebrities, travels extensively, and dreams up myriad ways to engage consumers. Previously at MTV, she now serves in a curiously titled role at Dell: Brand Experience Marketing Manager and Cultural Engineer -- a truly unique position that allows her to bring her creative and unconventional methods to an otherwise corporate atmosphere.

A native of San Antonio, the young Martin-Louro wanted to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and danced in high school, but her family nudged her toward a more practical future. After a few unfocused semesters at the University of Texas at San Antonio, her best friend helped her snag an internship at a small local publishing firm, where she quickly evolved into the paid position of Multimedia Art Director. She eventually went back to college and earned a BFA in Communications. After a stint for Austin Family Magazine, she was lured by another friend to New York, where she "miraculously" scored a production job at Nickelodeon, leading to six years at MTV. As Group Project Manager, Martin-Louro created multi-platform campaigns for clients such as Kia, Dodge and Hasbro, many leveraging the network's stable of characters like the Rugrats, Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants.

With the birth of her first child, Martin-Louro and her ad executive husband Michael decided to move back to Texas to be closer to family. In Austin she joined the marketing department at Dell and, with her MTV chops, immediately got assigned to music and entertainment, starting with its sponsorship of Justin Timberlake's 2007 tour. She helped launch the company's Brand Experience department where she brokers strategic partnerships with major brands like Google, LiveNation and AEG. She was also instrumental in creating the popular Dell Lounge microsite.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I've always had to work hard for what I want. My parents wanted me to learn responsibility, so they made me pay my own way through college. That's how I learned to hustle! As I look back on my career path, I realize that I have always paved my own way. Each position I've had has been shaped into something different because I put my own passion into it and hustled to prove my expertise. While my life as a hustler has been filled with good and not-so-good experiences, I value and learn from all of them. I believe that wisdom is what makes a good leader.

Young people still early in their careers now have easy access to information. They can search the web and find research data, whitepapers, etc., on any topic. Information is helpful, yet it's so much more valuable to identify and learn from real people with years of experiences to draw real-life insights. They need to learn how to put their passion into what they do and hustle to make it successful.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Dell?
I've had so many twists and turns in my career with a wide range of positions. All of those roads have led me to where I am today and allowed me build a diverse skill set. This has helped me tremendously at Dell in particular. At the world's largest start-up, Dell employees have a very strong work ethic. We are not afraid to wear different hats and roll up our sleeves when needed.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Truthfully, it's difficult to strike that balance. I LOVE what I do and put most of my energy there. But I also have a husband and three young children that I adore. We all have to put our devices down for dinner and try to spend weekends out and about exploring our city. I try to create as many experiences as I can for them.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Dell?
Most of my seven years at Dell have been filled with highlights. It's a great company to work for and I've been lucky to work with very smart and talented people. Dell has always been open to new ideas and they are super supportive of working moms. We are entering a new time at Dell now that we are a private company again. I am so excited to see how we change and grow.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking a career in the tech industry?
Today is the best time for women to be in the tech industry! There are so many female tech entrepreneurs with amazing, innovative ideas and incredible drive. I continue to be inspired by The Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network, which is a global community of female entrepreneurs that meets annually to collaborate and share their journeys.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I believe that most working women with kids struggle with balancing their career and their family. I think some women even have guilt about loving their work too much and making certain sacrifices. Women also get pressure from their husbands and other women about spending time away from their family to do their work.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
I'm truly inspired and motivated by Sheryl. She has become the spokesperson for women in the workplace seamlessly balancing work and family while creating a female empowerment movement. I personally think the movement is brilliant. The idea of women getting together to support each other on their paths is not a new one, but giving them tools to use as a guide is incredibly helpful in creating a strong network.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
As a working mother, it's important to hear how other successful women have been able to strike a good work/life balance. I remember being so thankful that I had a female manager when I was pregnant with my first child. I was afraid that my male management team would think I was weak or disengaged because I was pregnant. She told me "You're pregnant, not handicapped." It sounds silly when I think about it now.

In my first real creative internship, my boss and mentor was the owner of the company. He always pushed me to new heights. He continually offered me challenges and helped me think through them. He instilled the confidence in me to always push for what I believed in.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I have a ridiculous admiration for powerful females that hustled to get where they are. Most of those are entrepreneurs like Sara Blakely from Spanx and strong female leaders like Indra Nooyi of Pepsico. I also love that I work for a company like Dell that offers such a strong support group for women entrepreneurs allowing information, technology, networking and in some instances, capital, to support women entrepreneurs.

What are your hopes for the future of Dell?
Expect great things from the Dell team! I am honored to be a part of this group, particularly as we are focused on getting back to our entrepreneurial roots. There is a vibrant, renewed energy within the company. We are ready to put our heads down and work hard to further establish Dell as a complete end-to-end technology solutions provider - it's not just about PC's anymore but the entire computing ecosystem. Whether offering technology solutions for the busy family at home, the next great small business or the biggest enterprises of the world, Dell is building a suite of technology and services that will tackle any task.