At Ciena, we encourage and support our people in pursuing their passions. Carla Martinez, Leader of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), shares how she discovered her passion for DEI and worked with her manager to transition her career.

Finding your passion in your career can be a game-changer. Going to work each morning becomes an opportunity to explore your interests and make a meaningful impact, but discovering your passion isn’t always easy. For Carla Martinez, a Leader of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Ciena, finding her passion began after an experience she had as a student.

Women sitting on the ground in front of a sign While Carla was in university, she visited a local company for a career day and asked where the women’s restroom was, and they didn’t have one. “The response was that they didn’t have any women employees, so they didn’t need one,” said Carla. Carla was perplexed by this experience, but it fueled a passion inside her for diversity and inclusion.

When Carla joined Ciena in 2016, working in Human Resources Operations, she quickly got involved with the Women at Ciena employee resource group (ERG). While she always knew she wanted to work in Human Resources, she still expressed her interest in DEI in her career conversations with her manager.

“My manager and I would have frequent career conversations about how I wanted to develop my career, and we agreed that I would work 80% of my time doing Human Resources Operations and 20% of my time helping Women at Ciena or other diversity initiatives. That 20% was devoted to how I could work within Latin America, helping make Women at Ciena more global,” said Carla.

Those career conversations with her manager led Carla to a role in Internal Communications, where she wrote employee stories through the lens of DEI. Eventually, Carla transitioned her career and joined Ciena’s DEI team. Today, Carla helps manage Ciena’s DEI efforts and is the main liaison with our ERGs, building a sense of community and belonging for all. She is focused on providing more growth and development opportunities for employees in underrepresented communities.

“We currently have our Thrive Development Program for members from each of our ERGs, which focuses on effective communication skills, leadership styles, career growth, and how that can particularly help people from underrepresented communities,” said Carla. “We are also developing training for managers on effective performance and growth conversations and providing learning opportunities for people from these communities.”

Carla is also working with our ERGs to help bridge the digital divide by teaming up with some of our Digital Inclusion Program charities to increase opportunities in STEM for youth in underserved communities. Our ERGs are also pairing up with some of our digital inclusion partners, volunteering their time and professional expertise to help students develop digital skills and gain access to the tools they need to succeed.

“We’re continuing to evolve our ERGs to make sure that they are having as much of an impact as they can – internally on our people and externally for our local communities and customers,” said Carla.

Being able to explore her passion and shift her career path to working in DEI, Carla feels proud, knowing that the work she and her team do makes a difference for people.

“When I look back at all our progress, it feels great knowing that I am making a difference. But what I enjoy the most is hearing feedback from employees that I have helped them be more inclusive or create a better working environment,” said Carla.

At Ciena, we are committed to creating a supportive work environment that encourages people to explore their passions and achieve their career aspirations. By providing the right resources and growth opportunities, we can help our people find happiness, make a meaningful impact, and contribute to our company’s success. Carla’s story is just one example of how we support our employees in exploring their passions and shifting their careers to align with them. As we continue to evolve and grow as a company, we remain committed to helping our people thrive and succeed in their careers.