She Leads – With Cynthia Castellanos

Name: Cynthia Castellanos

Job Title: Vehicle Valuations Analyst, CAI

What would you tell your younger self? Keep working hard, focusing on your studies, and extracurriculars. It may be hard to envision the future sometimes, but it will all be so rewarding once you know you have earned it.

What was your major in college and how did you get to the position you are in today? Economics major with a Sociology minor. I had internships in municipal government budget and financial planning and analysis. When I completed my undergrad, I realized many of the roles I wanted to apply for such as Financial Analyst were looking for SQL and data analysis experience. The position I have with CAI allows me to use my understanding of markets while gaining SQL training and other areas to grow.

What was your inspiration and what helped you become successful? How do you define success? When I was 9 years old, my family moved to California from Cuba. I had been a straight A student in Cuba, but got all far below basic on my state testing in my first year. At that point, success became about thriving in the US and doing well in school again. My inspiration has always been my family and making them proud. I believe I am successful now because I am very close to helping my parents with a down payment on a house and repay them in a small way for all they have done for me.

How do you balance your work and personal life? Often times one has more importance, and we’re curious to know how you’ve handled the balance. During the pandemic I had a hard time balancing work and personal life since I had the computer at home I could just keep working. Often I feel that if I work until midnight it will make me a better worker in my manager’s eyes but I have noticed that it is not worth it to burnout. To combat this I have created a schedule that forces me to stay away from the computer. For example, I take dance classes and make sure I step away from the computer at that time.

What is your favorite quote? Good, better, best. Never let it rest till your good is your better and your better is your best.

What’s your favorite part of your job and why? I love the people they have been so welcoming. Some of my previous experiences with corporate jobs has been that people are very competitive. In this role, all co-workers are willing to give a helping hand in order to succeed as a team.

What is your favorite hobby? Watching reality TV. Some of my favorites include The Amazing Race, Survivor, and The Bachelorette.

What advice do you want to give the next generation of women leaders? Do not be afraid to reach out for help. Sometimes as a low-income Hispanic student in a mostly white school I felt I did not deserve the help. However, I have learned to reach out to co-workers, professors, and career advisors to help me with my career. Most people are willing to help but they cannot if you are not vocal about what you need.

What does leadership mean to you? Leadership means inspiring others to do the best for the team. The most effective leaders around me have been those that are able to empathize with those on the team in order to reach the best decision for the future. From my perspective it is important to keep an eye on the horizon and understanding what is being asked in each project.

What’s your advice on mentoring? If you are reaching out for a mentor, you are already taking a great and important step. First get to know the mentor on a human level before reaching out to gain something from them whether it is a recommendation letter or mentoring opportunity. Look for someone you would like to emulate whether for their leadership style or job role and reach out to them for help.

What’s your favorite ice cream? Thrifty Chocolate Brownie

Is there any other information that you think Girl Talk members would benefit from? I wish you the best in all your endeavors. Remember to stand up for yourself. The world needs to hear your voice and realize what makes you special and focus on that.