Finding Allies While Being an Ally: Highlights From Our Latest Female Leadership Interview With Francesca De Quesada Covey
We were delighted to welcome Francesca de Quesada Covey to the digital stage for the most recent edition of our Female Leadership Interview series.
Hosted by Andrea Mullens, VP of Human Resources for Ingram Micro Cloud, this interview explored the journey that led to Francesca de Quesada Covey’s current position as a partner at TheVentureCity – a VC firm based in Miami – and the Miami-Dade County's Tech Innovation Advisor.
Continue reading to discover how Francesca worked to bridge the gap between the private and public tech sectors and build a value-driven career with a network of allies in our latest blog linked to the series.
No Road Map to Success
Francesca’s non-linear career has been primarily guided by her instincts. Upon graduating from Columbia University with a degree in political science, Francesca entered the job market at the height of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, causing her to adopt a problem-solving approach that has driven her forward along the trajectory of her career.
“I’ve always been driven by two things: where people are trying to solve problems and how these solutions can be used to impact the most people in the best way,” Francesca explained.
This inquisitive nature led Francesca to look for ideas that go beyond conventional knowledge and question how those ideas can be scaled.
“I started my career in finance where I was really interested in the new investments being made in environmental and social governance,” she said. “I was really captivated by how large financial institutions were making investments that would have large social outcomes in the long term.”
In this regard, Francesca can be considered a pioneer. She followed this intuition to become a founding member of a team at an investment bank that focused on social outcomes as well as profit when determining their investment strategy.
Using her guiding principles of problem-solving and scaling solutions, Francesca eventually decided to pivot into working for the private sector, where she landed a job with the Obama Administration that combined her bachelor's degree in political science with her master's degree in finance.
“I served in the Office of Public Engagement, which is akin to being in the Partnerships Office,” said Francesca. “It was the link between the White House, the policy makers and the outside office. I served as a bridge there on various projects focused on innovation.”
Innovation is what the private sector does best, and Francesca's second piece of advice is to continue to learn as you go. Her time spent at the White House, for example, taught her that the private sector drives innovation and that the government isn't really equipped to do so. This epiphany paved the way for her to join Facebook,now Meta, when the company only employed about 5,000 people.
“At Facebook, I had the opportunity of working at the intersection of new products focused on underserved users.”
Francesca worked at Facebook for nearly eight years at the intersection between the private and public spheres, after which time she realized that she preferred working with smaller organizations that required a more hands-on approach. This led her to eventually join her current employer, TheVentureCity, as a partner and, more recently, she joined Miami-Dade County as a Tech Innovation Advisor.
“I’m lucky enough that on the one hand, I’m a partner at a venture capital firm and lead a team of operating partners that does pre-seed to seed-stage investments that are global in nature,” said Francesca. “While on the other hand, I’m able to support the efforts of the Miami Dade County where I serve under Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.”
Francesca's role in serving under County Mayor Cava was to fully capitalize on the region's tech boom in a way that best benefits the large jurisdiction, which boasts 29,000 employees and commands a $10 billion budget.
Amazing Mentorship Throughout Career
Francesca's accomplishments highlight the importance of having the right mentor and the critical role that mentorships play in forming career decisions and choices.
“I’ve been blessed to have amazing mentors throughout my career,” Francesca explained.
She shared a personal example of how her mentor asked her to keep a journal of the activities she participates in.
“The one thing that ties them together is that they have all been very career-driven, very metrics-driven, but also spiritual. I had this mentor that told me, ‘You’re thinking about leaving Facebook and you need to journal and manifest what it is you want to see in your career,’” Francesca noted.
Despite her initial skepticism, Francesca decided to reflect on her career by asking herself a series of difficult questions that, in reality, were straightforward.
“What gives you energy? Why do you enjoy doing partnerships? What fulfills you? What makes you really angry during the day? I would spend a lot of time writing this out and understanding myself better,” Francesca explained. “As I went through the process, the questions became more focused. I just navigated myself to, `What do you hope to get out of this next role?’”
This process gave Francesca a greater sense of clarity, allowing her to pivot into her two current roles – something she believes she achieved by following the advice of her mentor.
Finding the Right Mentor
According to Francesca, one of her defining characteristics is her ability to network outside of the work environment.
“I find that I’m quite open about who I am, my limitations, and what I’m good at. The best way I’ve found mentors is outside of work,” she explained. “Even if they are work colleagues, I would say find connections outside of work,” she added.
Francesca makes connections with mentors by asking simple questions and conversing about general topics like restaurants and hobbies. This, she claims, helps break down the barriers of relating to another person solely on a professional level.
“I would also say another good way to find a mentor is by asking how they’re doing and what their needs are. Mentorships are an exchange – it’s a give and take – and the best way to find a mentor is by asking them a lot of questions about themselves,” she said.
Sometimes You Can Find Comfort in Other People, Faster Than You Can Find Comfort in Yourself
Despite her impressive list of accomplishments, Francesca, like many of us, took time to feel at ease in her own skin. She is quick to point out, however, how we as individuals, despite knowing ourselves best, are most uncomfortable with ourselves.
“It’s interesting to think about how sometimes you can find comfort in other people faster than you can find comfort in yourself,” she said.
A point Francesca is quick to highlight in support of this is how age plays a significant factor in accepting yourself. As she puts it, “There is no substitute to spending time on this planet.”
Another valid point raised by Francesca, and one that is particularly relevant to women, is that although we all wish to be liked by all within our work environment, that might not always be the case. Francesca comes to an interesting conclusion when she says that it's okay not to be liked by everyone as long as you're respected for your work.
“There’s a difference between being liked and the value that you put out in a work context,” she said. “It took me a long time to feel pride in my work, delivering what I said I would do and always being true to my word and yet still understanding that there would be some people that still didn’t like me.”
Don’t Miss Women in Cloud at Cloud Summit 2022
Getting out of one's comfort zone is a challenge that we all face. Stretching beyond our strengths and striving to push ourselves beyond our limits makes us all nervous, and Francesca is no exception. Join our Women in Cloud network at Cloud Summit 2022 from May 17-19 to hear more inspiring stories from our network of female leaders who will be sharing candid career advice throughout this year’s channel event.
Category Company & Partnership News
Written by Kelly Cuesta
Published on May 03, 2022
Kelly Cuesta, Principal Consultora, Marca Mundial de Empleadores en la Nube, Gerenta de Cultura y Participación, Ingram Micro
Kelly is the principal consultant of global cloud employer branding for Ingram Micro, one of the world’s leading technology distribution companies. Since her new appointment, Cuesta has been instrumental in driving initiatives to build the organization into a more diverse workplace with inclusive culture.