Sandra Lopez Q + A

In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”? 

In my opinion the qualities that a power woman is one of understanding of her specific purpose in life in general. And providing clarity and getting towards that. And that really I know it’s overused a lot in terms of the authentic self but we all have unique experiences, we all have unique DNA, and we can contribute uniquely to business and society and really unlocking the power of who you’re meant to be and who you’re meant to become is what makes a Power woman.

Do you believe that there is any gender specific role for women to play in the Covid-19 pandemic? Do you believe the response to the Covid-19 pandemic highlights & emphasizes the natural resilience of women? 

Sandra: I would say yes to all that stuff. I think it’s really interesting that historically there has been research which highlights female characteristics like strategic, analytical, and makes great leaders. I would argue for Covid it would be the traits in terms of compassion, understanding, and collaboration that will become great leaders. Especially for Covid and the next generation of who they are and what their values are is going to I would argue make leaders better equipped to become leaders of companies than men. And we should leverage that to our advantage.

Moonah: Yes absolutely. This is why I’m loving you more and more. I’m like you so get it.

Sandra: Well it’s really funny I was feeling like saying for Intel executives, it was all females. And the person was reviewing all the Harvard review case studies and this was what the analytics say make a great leader and it was mostly male characteristics and I had to say hold on a second, this was the past. Are we not looking at what has happened since Covid and what the next generation is? Because I would argue that the females have this amazing quality that they’re going to look for in a leader and so I think it’s really just needed to do new research and go back and analyze the next generation and I would argue that our characteristics are going to be over annexing. 

Moonah: Yes 100%. And it’s just everything. It’s naïve and I kind of want To border on the line of saying ignorant to assume for one second that everything is not changing. And especially with how we are empowering the female generation today. And making us not feel like we’re just half life. We’re not just a half life anymore. Nobody can even think about women these days where it’s absolutely possible and women are going to step up in the game. And also you touch on the next generation. Who could even imagine the hard facts of telling everybody that boys are falling behind far more than girls falling behind because for the first time girls have actually felt more empowered with life.

Sandra: Yes and I would like to say I learned this a while ago, I was looking at both of my daughters and you know the word empowered, It’s basically somebody giving you the power and you realize like now we’ve always had the power. The power has always been silenced and now when we talk about a power woman it’s like finding your own purpose and your own power so that you can drive the most amazing change. Look at Simone biles, at such a young age and knowing the power of her platform and saying I’m not OK and it’s OK to not be OK. I mean how many men are doing that in the Olympics? It’s fascinating. So if you’re seeing the female stand up and help shape society in a better way.

With all the different issues one could focus on, how do you balance your efforts in pursuit of gender equality? Is it a global approach or a specific issue that you are passionate about? 

It’s global. I mean it starts with the day that you were born. I mean I didn’t ask for my double X chromosome and in the bare nature as soon as you start you I mean there are countries where females do not get an education and we know if they get education it can help raise the GDP. We have enough research that when you talk about the most athletic and class clowns, they end up being mad and not females and so equality will only be reached when we start to raise all of our children in a manner that everybody has an equal shot. From education, from athleticism and who they want to become you know a woman can be president. 

A woman you know can be on the front line and fighting a war. A woman leads a sports league. You know there’s a commissioner you know that says I want to be the commissioner of the NFL But I can’t because I’m a woman they’re going to. You have to be a good negotiator and you have to really care about athletes so let’s just change the note. How do we make that happen for you. And so it’s not about a particular passion, it’s about how do you lead a society better and I do believe that it’s on a global scale. It touches almost everything.

What do you think is the number one action we as a society can take toward empowering women and gender equality? (e.g. affirmative action)? 

Sandra: I would say, it’s interesting that you say affirmative action because that would lead me to putting systems in place to drive equality like in California you have to have a minimum of two underrepresented minorities in a public company. And that’s the system that’s put in place to drive change but at the same time that system is wondering because once you hit two, you’re done. So my perspective is systems help yet where you can drive the most meeting and change is ensuring that we are not silent and that we speak up and that we’re not silenced because we speak up. 

Sandra: So we as females have to find and the male counterparts Who want to be on our journey need to be the vocal voices and we have to vote by our wallet and buy our badges. So that if you feel like an injustice is happening you know you drive change by how we vote. From our wallet and how we decided to do it, you know I was just talking about Scarlett Johansson and how she believes well there was apparently a breach of contract right. And she speaks up and says like. And then I was saying to a friend of mine I’m wondering if there will ever be a movement where a bunch of females get together in support of Scarlett Johansson and cancel Disney+ subscription and when they have enough people cancel their subscription the Disney company will pay her what she is due for breaching her contract right? So I think that’s what I say when I talk about we will not be silent and we will be heard and when I say that it’s not just about us speaking about equality but driving action went at a time it’s painful for the company because we need a kind of rattle the cage so that they can actually make tangible change.

Moonah: Right absolutely. Wow that’s really powerful because I think there is power and unity and power and a voice of everybody coming together. And I think to your point, it is happening more and more. People are realizing the value. I mean if you look at what happened during the riots and when you look at what happened during the death of I’m drawing a blank but George Floyd, thank you for that, that was crazy what it took for people to realize what is right. And it took it is just right and wrong and it’s not even like you’re saying to anybody you know we need you to you know paint the walls black or white we’re just saying what’s there and what’s right. That’s all we’re asking anybody to do is just the right thing. You know

Sandra: 100% and you know some people don’t even know I mean they know but they choose to ignore it. So we just have to conquer that. 

Moonah: I mean when you look at that direction that just took place this morning and we talked about suicide and the police man and it’s funny how I think why did you not know that and they said that something like six or 5 to 6 of the policeman that were part of defending the insurrection that was taking place, right before the election, and everything that was going on, policeman are so distraught by what actually happened and I think everybody you know only when you’ve been involved in something like that, can you actually even say some thing.

Moonah: It’s like when people say “oh I know how you feel” it’s like how the “hell you do not”. I’m just saying nobody knows until you’re in it you know. You can’t assume well you know they’re coming out of it and they’ve had, it’s not just a counseling. With my husband was down when 911 happened I can’t tell you how it emotionally affects you so badly oh my God. You wouldn’t wish it on anybody. It’s only when you go through these traumas when you can say no nobody actually knows what’s going on with these people that would never thought in 1 million years that they would ever be talked like this or be perspective with the feeling of war or a kind of fight that you didn’t think ever in your lifetime would be having to defend the Constitution in this way. Unbelievable.

Sandra: Unbelievable I know. Sometimes I think that we take 10 steps forward and then 10 steps back.

Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block due to your gender? 

Yeah I mean like I feel I always tell people I feel like every day my double X chromosome is something that is keeping or I’m behind my male counterpart just because of what I’ve inherited when I was born. But one specific example and it was the start to my career which was very poignant and at the time I didn’t even know and at this point I chose to walk and I pursued a different path. I started my career actually as a merchant at a pretty large company and the chief operating officer mentioned to me that he was wondering why the other gentleman had a great advantage over me and I honestly thought because he was so good at analytics and statistics and on the merchant side there’s a lot of number crunching, so I was like okay I’m going to have to go to MBA school for finance. 

And that’s what I was thinking in my head okay Sandra look at Aaron who is super good at analytics and stats said you need to get ahead in your career we want you to hone in on that and you should consider MBA school. It wasn’t thought he said you know there’s a glass ceiling that exists. And so I was like OK so you’re telling me that I can spend countless hours and years making this company successful yet you would never give me the opportunity to be a C suite. So the next day I woke up, I went in, and I quit. And my mother was like Sandra, you’re making such great money, it’s a great company and I was like no. Why would I allocate a second of my life when they’re always telling me I will not succeed in this company. And so I was a very very young age.

And I didn’t have any mentors or sponsors but I did have my own intuition. And that in itself was a blessing in disguise because it enabled me to pivot into technology where I knew technology was going to change how we lived. And I am forever grateful for him making that statement because it allowed me to land in tech where I think I could add more value than in the fashion industry in the contacts of the tech industry so I know it’s male dominant dead in the fashion industry is too but tag is shaping society and we’re making AI algorithms that if you don’t have a diverse room in the algorithm, we are going to deploying value into the society.

So making sure there are people there saying where is that diversity? Where are the different perspectives when building these technologies? It’s very very important. So that was just one that has stood out. And yes there are so many examples that I have and I tell myself that while society will hold me back because of my double X-chromosome, I can’t hold myself back. And I just have to push forward. And I push forward with a group of others. I have amazing male mentors and sponsors but I’m so grateful for them and they are all about making sure women have a seat at the table and driving systemic change within the various industries so in partnership with them and really trying to drive some change.

Moonah: That’s fantastic. That’s such a great story as well because what was a huge negative at a time, you can actually turn around and make it into a positive because I changed your destiny.

Sandra: Yes and having the courage to speak up and that was really hard because I didn’t have a mentor and I mentor all these young females and one of them is an intern and she wants to ask to get paid and she’s like no I feel so grateful I was given the opportunity but they also have a choice to give your job or not and they chose to give you the job. Also they value you so they should also ask for them to contribute to the value that you’re delivering and the worst thing that they’re going to tell you is now. And she’s in high school so she’s like I don’t know. I go sweetheart, it’s time for you to practice. You know the muscle of asking. And so she did and she got rewarded and she came back and was like I asked and I got my payment I’m so excited. And I go and how does it feel?

Moonah: That’s a really big deal. It’s really funny though because we work with a lot of young students and I always say them never to be afraid to ask for money. Even though I’m the one who’s telling you this because I’m the one that’s going to try to find it for you. But at the end of the day don’t be frightened of that elephant in the room because if you don’t ever ask just like you said. I see how so many young people are frightened to talk about it and I always say to them don’t be frightened. And I’m the first one that will say this to anybody even though I need to find it in the budget to make it happen but it’s never been a situation where you can’t talk about it in a negotiation or have a conversation because it shows that you’re empowered and that you want to own your destiny. But still yeah we have to take a step back and go. It’s not possible right now but I’m glad you’re bringing it to the table and we’re going to figure it out right. We’ll work it out or will do something to make it possible.

Sandra: I 100% agree and I think your point, I feel like money is such a taboo for females. The men have no problem asking so I start talking about salaries and I’m like what are you making? And she’s like I don’t understand. I’m like now you guys are talking about salaries and you’ve got to start getting comfortable with how you’re going to invest your money. All of this stuff I wish I had learned when I was young and I didn’t. And so men do this all the time. They talk about their salaries and ask for a promotion. You have to get the next generation to get as comfortable as the men. 

Moonah: And they know how to rub shoulders. They know how to be part of a click. And I think it’s just been such that’s why I always say to everybody our MovesNexus which is what’s going to be association for the woman is going to be just that. A private club. And people laugh at me and go “why do you say that?” Because I’m like a man who can say it and they always do. And they get away with it. Why can’t women not have a private club? I don’t get it. There’s always two standards. There’s always two standards. And I’m shameless. I’m like I don’t care. I don’t know why women have to turn around and always feel that they can’t be equal. It doesn’t make sense. We’re in the 21st-century. We’re not in the Stone Age anymore. There is no him and her. It’s us. Why can’t it just be us?

Sandra: 100%.

Moonah: Together we can do this. And I’m like you though I’m not anti-men. I mean without my husband I wouldn’t be able to breathe the air that I breathe because I just need him present. But I just realized it’s who we are and we come from culture and history and just formulas that have been created in our generation that have just been passed on and on and that’s why I think we could be who we are today. It’s not…

Sandra: You were talking about generation and culture and I had to do an interview yesterday for Latina magazine and we were talking about in Spanish there’s a saying for women, this is just for the females, if you’re quiet you’re beautiful. So imagine being conditioned for 25 years of your life like the quieter you are the more beautiful you are. Right? Imagine bringing that into the workplace because you’re like this is how I’ve been conditioned and you have to completely recondition yourself or like we talked about respect in Latin culture, you don’t challenge your elders. Which means you wouldn’t challenge your boss. And trying to rewire yourself to find your voice is really really hard. So to your point, culture affects our showing up to work in ways that we don’t even realize until somebody brings it to your attention.

Moonah: Right. Because it becomes second nature to you and I mean I always say I never want to be my mom but at the same time because I come from a very strong cultural background and the women are always the ones that are almost second class citizens and who we are because we are Asian. And I’m like that’s for the ridiculous. I won’t allow it. I won’t let it happen. It creeps in and it happens just because of who you are all these years this is how your parents I brought you up. And I’m just like you just do you’re the first want to get up you’re the first want to do the chores. You’re the first one. That’s just how your parents brought you up but you’re just like no I want to do this. Crazy. That kind of brings us to the conversation you were having earlier about LA and California and how they brought out the rule about female presents in the board room increases the bottom line. And the environment and the work environment is so much healthier because of having more female presents at the board room table. And this is supported by evidence that women are high performers and do actually increase.

There are many studies that support the idea that a female presence in the board room increases the bottom line and leads to healthier work environments. What can we do to continue to support and enhance the growth and presence of women in high profile positions? 

Sandra: Obviously data is not helping because there’s all this data in the world. So I talk a lot about this with our Board of Directors, we just have to be so vocal. And challenge every single time there are people not being engaged with the sea level in the board to say you need more diversity. And not and if they can’t find somebody, we are more than happy to find them qualified candidates.

I just think that you know basically when they choose somebody that is not a woman and it’s a male, they’re telling their daughters that they’re not worthy of a board seat. They’re telling their sisters they’re not worthy of a board seat. In fact they’re telling their mothers, and oftentimes the men have really good relationships with their mothers, that a woman is not worthy of a board seat. So I do at least for me I try to make it a little more personal because somehow personal kind of tugs more of the heart and that dialogue and challenging my management when I hear there’s somebody that got hired and it’s not a diverse nature, I have no problem sending a note. Edit I have no problem being vocal about it. I’d be there’s no contract in a company that says I can’t speak and share my points of view around the choices they’re making in the leadership positions. And then the times you just go with your…I mean if you talk about diversity inclusion and your board and your female board is not that, then let that person know that actually our behaviors are not matching your word so you move onto A different organization so that’s all seeing as what you guys are highlighting and…

And those individuals that are able to be influencers in the business world, I think they need to use that power and no pun intended with a magazine but use that power to Challenge the patriarchal system had to challenge you know the XY chromosome and will make a little dent. And make the dent bigger and bigger and bigger and change happens. So I just think that we have all the data and stats and they’re not paying attention to it so that strategy is not working. So we have to work on another strategy. So far I feel like I have been able to open the door a little bit when I talk about can I make it personal. I’m like oh you have a daughter right? So I’m like where does she go she’s in college what does she want to do after it so you know doctors have committees and your daughter wants to do that so basically imagine men telling her that she can’t participate in that. Because she’s a woman. That’s kind of what you’re saying to me, it’s just on the business setting. So personalizing it to whatever reason it is, they hit pause and they internalize it.

Moonah: Right. That’s a really powerful conversation to be taking place is the truth. And I think if everybody was having it what a difference it would make.

Sandra: Yes, and I’ve learned that honestly the power of how do you change what mines that you have going into psychology and then you have to think what do you do to influence and that’s how I got too well make it personal. That’s the path forward and it’s harder because you have to chip away one of the time. One person at a time. And I think you can say, if I influenced one person. One person is able to choose a diverse candidate for a board seat then that it’s success.

Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it? 

Sandra: I have to. And they’re very different and they sent me to where I am today. And I think that they are equally important so I can’t say one is more impactful than the other. I’ll start with the one in which I joined in town in 2006 and I joined as a senior level and I was lucky in that. And I had a gentleman schedule a meeting with me to talk about until leader ship Council for Hispanics. And I was like why is this person putting this meeting on my calendar at Intel. I don’t do anything Hispanic. I don’t do anything around Latin culture. I kind a head who I was because of the injustices that I experienced as a little girl. So I was like okay I’m new to Intel I need to take the meeting and learn a little bit more about this and be open minded.

The gentleman asked me this question, we were talking and i was like look I’ve never participated in any Hispanic leadership programs while I was in college . I never talked about that I was Mexican American, I will not begin to talk about this at this point in my life. And I was 35 or 36 and he was like so you’re telling me that being Latino has not affected lack of success or success and where you are today? You know the question that is it bothers you because maybe you’re not honest with yourself, so this was a question that became transformative because months later I started thinking about okay being a Latina did affect me and trying to get the answer and I realized that I was never who I was. And it absolutely affected me. I never showed up as the woman who was Mexican American that can bring her culture out on the table and represent arguably the growing majority in the US. 

Arguably Latinos are the first ones to buy technology because in a cultural perspective we like to be the ones advancing. At the expense of sometimes not even having food. So I totally hid my life. And in that process I’ve spent two years of uncovering and removing the mask and understanding who Sandra Lopez was meant to be in this world and this is why we started this conversation is because the greatest gift that I have given myself is to walk in my shoes, and walk in my skin, and know what I was supposed to get done in this world. And I say this kind of emotionally but really believe I can breathe my last breath knowing that I have chosen my path from a professional standpoint that I think will leave the world a little bit better. 

That was transformative. And it was just a simple question. I tell people you never know when you’re mentoring some one can you ask him a question that will transform their lives. The power. That was one and then the other one that was so interesting from a corporate perspective. I had the ability to run a big business, I was running a big business and running it for consumer brands and then my CEO at the time or you could run this new business. So I had a choice that I was given. I had just given birth to my child and they asked me if I wanted to run new business. And chose new business. In corporate America that would be viewed as regression and progression. And I wanted to go into Business and Intel needs to transform and that landed me where I am today and should I have not done that then I don’t think I am where I am today. I would be one of the many marketers and I probably wouldn’t have a C suite title. 

Moonah: I love how you’re just not cookie cutter. You’re like throw me the challenge, I’m more down for it.

Sandra: Yes and imagine the gossip in the hallway of a corporation that’s like oh Sandra was on the fast track and then she got promoted. She has no budget and she has no team. And I didn’t let the whispers get in my way and I also knew at the time who I was becoming and I was like I’m just going to go do this. The worst thing is that it doesn’t work out and I go back right. How hard is it going to be? 

And it’s gotten me to get to know the CEO I have $1 billion company. I got to work with Brian Krzanich. I got to work with C level. I got to read a platform for Intel not only on the business side but also diversity and inclusion‘s. It’s giving me so many gifts and I would say however I bet on me. And I often times think we look at our bosses to bed on me or our sponsors. One of the biggest pieces of advice that I can give to the next generation is sometimes just bet on yourself. Just bet on you and look at the journey you’re going to go on and you will discover facets of who you are that you never knew actually existed. And that was a pretty powerful journey and I’m super excited that I did that.

If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why? 

Sandra: So I have to figure out… I don’t want to name a person because they’re not necessarily good people but I would want to be them so I could make the world a better place. So if you were to search for the most powerful people in the world there’s two, the Chinese president and Vladimir Putin, and I think I’d want to be a person that’s creating harm in the world to create harmony in the world. Is what I would want to do.

Moonah: I like it. I like the thought process.

Sandra: That’s who I am. It’s a typical response but I’m like okay how do I say this in terms of a way that Angela Merkel‘s already been amazing and there’s people that are doing amazing stuff so I guess your question is like people that have power and are using their power for bad. I would want to step in their shoes and completely change the world and be the 180 of who they are today.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Sandra: I’ve had so many nuggets of advice but the one advice that I’ve been given and learned to practice it more recently is the power of asking for help. Help is strength. Oftentimes help is viewed as lack of confidence or lack of knowledge and that’s not true. Health is recognizing where you have a gap. Help is recognizing that you can’t accomplish it all. Help means that you’re so self-aware and so I would say when you need help, just ask for help.

Moonah: I agree, and I think a strong person who knows their strengths and their weaknesses is in a place of power if you do actually ask. I always say to everyone, especially the young people I work with, always know a good manager when you work with them is of course you’re going to make mistakes and a good manager is somebody that is always going to have your back because at the end of the day why would I empower you to take control of some thing and if you absolutely screw up, I don’t back you up because at the end of the day that’s the worst kind of manager that you ever wanna work with.

Moonah: Somebody that says oh I’m in power on you to take control of this project but if you screw up don’t come back because I’m not going to back you up. That’s just the worst kind. So your education and teach people but if you’re going to make mistakes and you want to minimize mistakes and talk about them. Don’t be afraid to say here’s what I’m thinking, what do you think? How do we make it so it makes sense? Can I see junk people I work with, the first thing I say to them is that if you screw up it’s OK you’ll do it once but you won’t do it again because you know you did it wrong. But if you don’t ever do it wrong then you’re never gonna know how to make it right. Do you know and I can keep telling you how to do it right but you’ll only ever remember it when you actually do it wrong.

What is your favorite book (fiction or nonfiction)? 

God I think it’s so personal because I read books on different phases of my life and what’s happening whether it’s self-help books or fiction or nonfiction. I would say a transformative book that I have read is Joseph Campbell‘s The Power of Myth.