Avi Gomez is in the business of breaking down barriers.
The daughter of immigrants from El Salvador, she was the first member of her family to pursue higher education. At North Carolina State University, she earned degrees in business and international studies—an accomplishment both she and her family are extremely proud of.
After college, Avi began breaking barriers in the software industry. “Being a woman of color in tech was such an incredible learning experience and really helped me learn how to be resilient, how to be able to speak up for myself more. And it had me really motivated to be able to help other people like me, minorities and other women, to be able to succeed in tech,” Avi says.
While on the job, Avi started taking on projects related to growth and development and helped promote diversity and inclusion initiatives. It was through these experiences that she came to recognize that her true passion in business was uplifting minorities and women. After six years in tech, she decided to pivot into HR.
Today, Avi is earning her MBA in strategic human resource management at the Wisconsin School of Business. Her goal is to help company leaders understand the importance of putting a focus on equity, inclusion, and belonging, as well as the value of using data to tie them to the company’s strategic goals. Avi explains that the advantages of doing so will reach further than employees of color and women, benefiting the company as a whole.
She witnessed this effect firsthand through her MBA internship with Yum! Brands. “Whenever a company showed that they cared about their employees and that they were willing to provide the resources to help them, then the employees would reciprocate that and feel empowered to be leaders within the company,” Avi says. “It would create a culture, and the employees would trust the leadership more.”
Company culture is only the first wave in an ever-expanding ripple effect. The benefits will extend far beyond, fracturing negative cycles such as poverty.
“Being able to empower women and people of color to pursue leadership positions will allow those families and their communities to have more access to resources, to be able to build better lives, to then allow for their families to be able to experience new things and access new knowledge,” Avi explains. “That can really make such a positive impact in those communities.”
But for Avi, the effects of having women and people of color in leadership roles don’t end there. Just as importantly, it will also show children what they are capable of achieving.
“Seeing people that look like me in these leadership positions, being the face of companies, as a child would have done wonders at that age,” Avi says. “And to do that now for the next generation, who knows what that could lead others to do. I’m really thinking about the next generation and what is going to be in their life and what they can accomplish.”
What are you listening to?
A lot of Bad Bunny. I am a super big Bad Bunny fanatic. But I'm also listening to some R&B, a little bit of Ari Lennox and Ella Mai, so I have a bit of a range.
Beach, mountains, or other?
Mountains. I grew up in North Carolina, so I'm more used to the mountains. It's more peaceful, more nature to surround myself with.
Who inspires you?
My mom. She's a woman that has shown so much courage and perseverance, and I try to model anything that I can after her.