Agustina Sartori of Uruguay was a participant in the 2013 Fortune/US State Department/Vital Voices Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. Agustina is Telematic Engineer and Director/Co-Founder of AdviseMeTech. The company creates innovative technological solutions that assist in the selection of cosmetics for women. During the 2013 Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, she was mentored by Weili Dai, a co-founder and vice president at Marvell Technology Group.
From learning from top women CEOs and seeing Google’s famous corporate culture first-hand, to spotting Mark Zuckerberg at a bar and working closely with a co-founder of a leading company in Silicon Valley (Weili Dai and her team at Marvell), my experiences over the last month were more incredible than I could imagine. My thanks go to the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, Vital Voices, the US State Department and Marvell.
As Sheryl Sandberg says in her book Lean In, if you ask a girl what they want to be when they grow up, when they do become women, they continue to think about this dream. I believe she is right. In my case, my childhood dream was to become a manager of an important company – my future company, which I would create. This dream defined me as a person.
I’ve loved tech since I was young, and made it my career. Today, I’m the co-founder of AdviseMeTech, along with Carolina BaĢ±ales. It’s no surprise that one of my biggest aspirations – a dream shared by many engineers in our country – was getting to know Silicon Valley, where the biggest technologies are created, and to someday take our company there.
My company is based in Uruguay, a small country in South America with less than 3.4 million people. We’re known for having more cattle than people, for our lovely beaches, and for sharing a border with Argentina and Brazil. What many people don’t know about Uruguay is that we have a booming tech industry. We have cutting edge IT infrastructure. The state gives tax incentives to IT companies, and we have the largest per capita software exportation in Latin America. Uruguay is a small, emerging country that is creating its own path for innovation and technology, and we have the will to learn, innovate, and invest in this industry even further.
Despite these opportunities, Silicon Valley and Uruguay are much further away than a flight to California. Uruguay lacks connections with Silicon Valley’s financial resources such as venture capital funds, and there’s little communication or networking between companies in Silicon Valley and those in Uruguay – even though we’re often working to develop the same products or services. There is a gap between our worlds, and we in Uruguay often see Silicon Valley as an untouchable symbol of innovation. It’s bridging this gap that motivates me to work harder and build my own network with this community.
During the Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, I started doing just that. Here are a few of my key takeaways:
Have confidence in your ideas and take a risk on them. During our discussion with Dina Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, she said, “no big miracles are achieved with just a small risk.” It’s this energy, competitiveness, risk-taking, and out-of-the-box thinking that make entrepreneurs successful.
In Silicon Valley, people are driven by the dream of being successful. My ideas about ambition, dreams, and measures of success have changed. As Alyse Nelson, President & CEO of Vital Voices told us, “Leadership isn’t just about success, it’s about significance.” Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley don’t dream about just multimillion dollar companies, but multibillion dollar ones, and it’s this ambition that leads them to become global innovators.
Build networks. The environment in Silicon Valley – filled with hacker groups, tech events, women’s event, and mentoring between young professionals and students – feeds the creation of new businesses and the growth and development of existing ones. New companies are creating possibilities and leadership opportunities to develop young staff. As Beth Brooke, Global Vice Chair for Public Policy at Ernst & Young said, “The more people you help, the more your power is enhanced.” Now I want to inspire others to take risks and believe in their dreams.
I’ve brought back to Uruguay these lessons from Silicon Valley, and I think this is just the start of a great journey. I look forward to building a better future for our company, my country, the world and society.
Read more about the 2013 Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership and the 27 emerging businesswomen leaders from around the world here.