Longtime State Farm exec describes the workplace’s bicultural advantage.

 “I thought being a Hispanic woman meant there’s only a certain level of leadership I can reach,” said Paola A. Lacouture, a student at Florida International University (FIU). “However, after listening to Annette Martinez, I learned that the thickness of the glass ceiling is determined by me. We set our own limits.”

Annette Martinez, vice president of operations, human resources at State Farm Insurance Companies, spoke on “The Bicultural Advantage in the Workplace” on November 3rd. Her appearance at the College of Business Administration was part of the Herbert A. Wertheim Lecture Series. This program has brought distinguished speakers and experts in business leadership and entrepreneurship to FIU since 1993.

Annette Martinez
Annette Martinez

Martinez, whose exemplary career includes leadership roles in many State Farm departments, delivered a message that proved to be informative and inspirational for the 140 students, faculty, alumni and other visitors.

“She emphasized that a person needs to feel at home in their organization,” said Melissa Izquierdo (BBA ’10), the college’s coordinator, corporate and community relations. “The organization’s values, morals and mission must align with your own.”

The bicultural advantage is alive and well at State Farm and other organizations.

Andres Lopez, (BACC ’11), a claim representative at State Farm, gained specific motivation from Martinez’s impassioned and lively presentation.

“I’ve always felt comfortable at State Farm and after hearing from this outstanding leader who has been at our company for 23 years, I decided my long-term future is here,” he said. “The inclusion that State Farm offers Hispanics and other minorities is outstanding. I also appreciate how Annette Martinez made me realize how cultural differences can be an advantage.”

Annette Martinez and Executive Dean Joyce J. Elam
Annette Martinez and Executive Dean Joyce J. Elam

That point also resonated with Lacouture, who serves as president of ALPFA at FIU/ALPFA Honor Society, the student organization for accounting, finance and business related majors.

“Having a bicultural background is not a barrier,” Lacouture said. “I learned that having an accent is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it reminds you where you’re from and what makes you unique in the society you live in.”

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