As part of our Learning from Leaders Q&A series, we met with five of our female leaders to learn what has shaped their careers and what advice they have for others looking to grow professionally. Here, Tammy Mata, Corporate Vice President of Employee Relations, tells us why you need to keep exploring opportunities within your company.
What career advice would you have given yourself as a young person? What advice would you give to young women today?
Think about what you want in the long term. Once you have an idea of what that is, take the time to get to know the people at a company and understand its history–where it's been and where it's going. There's so much that can be learned from what a company has achieved, including the different opportunities that may be available. A company that is solid and focused on the long term can offer exciting opportunities for your long-term career.
Two of the guiding principles of my career are continued growth and engagement. I started at New York Life in the Office of Diversity & Inclusion (ODI) after practicing employment law for many years. As a part of the ODI team, I used my employment law background as a foundation to develop and execute diversity and inclusion initiatives such as the Coming Together Conversation Series. I then used that experience to work on diversity strategy and programs as a part of the Talent Acquisition team.
In my current role within Employee Relations, I leverage both my employment law and diversity and inclusion experience to handle employee matters, initiatives, and policies. In some companies you can feel pigeonholed into one subject area or type of role. At New York Life, I have been able to flex my skills in many different areas because I focus on my long-term career goals and work for a company that supports employee growth and development.
“Think about what you want in the long term–that’s my advice.” - Tammy Mata
When considering companies to work for, what are important things to look for?
Looking at how a company treats its employees is key for me. New York Life believes in doing the right thing for its policy owners which translates into how we treat our employees. The fact that ODI had been in place for 10 years when I started with the company speaks volumes. New York Life’s focus on encouraging people to bring their authentic selves to work every day demonstrates the company’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity. When considering a place to work, I strongly suggest researching the employee experience and hearing directly from its employees.
What drives you? And then how do you kick back when you need to relax?
A couple of things drive me. My parents emigrated from Panama to the United States in the 1960s with very little and were able to make a great life for my sisters and me. I'm so grateful for the opportunities that they gave me. Any time I think I can't do something I remember that my parents started a whole new life here. If they could do that, then I can take on whatever challenge or obstacle I am presented with. I also want to make sure that I teach my son and daughter, by example, the importance of perseverance in the face of obstacles.
In addition to my Employee Relations role, I am a co-chair of New York Life’s LEAD (Latinos for Education, Advancement and Development) Employee Resource Group (ERG) and the chair of the board of trustees at my kids' school. As you can imagine, both roles take up a lot of my time–but it’s a labor of love because it's my way to give back to my community, while helping to drive the company’s overall culture of diversity and inclusion forward.
To relax, I spend time with my family. I'm lucky that my sisters, my parents, and I all live within 10 minutes of each other, so we spend a lot of time together just enjoying the down time.
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