Brandwatch’s Evelyn Castillo on being Latina in the workplace and the power of mentorship!
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As a kid, Evelyn Castillo created surveys for fun. In sixth grade, she did one on whether students would be more effective taking tests if there was a clock in the room or not. She did another one on how different genders liked to react to different kinds of music.
Today, it comes as no surprise that she’s now an account director at Brandwatch, using her expertise in analytics and market research to help clients refine their processes relating to digital intelligence.
We had a sit-down chat with Evelyn, where she talked about her 5-years working for Brandwatch, her passion for numbers as a child growing up in Alaska, being Latina in the workplace, and why people of color need to speak up. This interview was edited for brevity.
Hi, Evelyn, how did you become account director at Brandwatch?
I became an account director in February 2021.
I’ve been at Brandwatch for five years, and I’ve had many roles in my time. Right now, I handle mainly the commercial aspect of the client relationship, which is a slight change for me.
I don’t come from a sales background. But when it comes to consulting with a client and letting them know what the best approach to what their needs are, I could add a lot of value there.
I started my career in New York. While I was on the Strategy and Insights team, they wanted to expand the team in Europe. I asked my team if they would be open to me moving to their offices in Berlin, taking that role, and then being replaced in New York. Without hesitation, the company said yes and helped me through the process
One of the biggest perks that I feel about working at Brandwatch is getting those opportunities. I remember I was quite nervous about asking to move to Berlin. I created a whole why it’s worth it presentation for them. And none of it was necessary.
How did you find your passion in research and analytics?
I grew up in Alaska, which is very remote, and as a kid, I used to enjoy writing surveys and sending them to my friends. So I was always destined to do some level of research.
I’m very happy with this and I still think of myself as a researcher. I’m so glad I went on the path that I went in. And it has a lot to do with that high school class, weirdly enough.
When I graduated high school, I sent a Thank you card to my economics teacher, because that one class is what took me into the route to what I want to do.
Why did you decide to pursue marketing in college?
For a couple of years, I went to Bryant University in Rhode Island. Early in my college days, my plan was to study economics. I really loved statistics and econometrics. But the more I was in college, the more I realized that I wouldn’t enjoy the professional aspect of economics.
In my junior year, I took a market research course and realized it had everything, including the fun side of statistics and econometrics. So I did get a degree in marketing, but it was really market research-driven.
I’m very grateful to Yong Cao, my market research professor at the time, and I also sent him a little Thank you note letting him know how he impacted my career.
It seems like these teachers inspired you in taking this career in a way
These teachers really did shift my way of thinking. I grew up in an immigrant, Latino family, and I was taught to go into finance, business and so on, all at a very vague level.
So never knowing these careers existed and then being introduced to them in a way that was exciting and entertaining made a big difference for me. It drove that passion of wanting to do research and learn more about people and how they behave.
Did you have mentors aiding you in your professional journey?
My career growth and development — not even just in market research, but just professionally in general — was driven by mentors. Professionally, I’ve had great mentors in all of my roles.
I was an INROADS Scholar, an internship placement program for people of color, and I had a mentor who guided me through the years. Her name was Michelle Phoenix, and just having her support and expertise really helped my career.
I grew up in Alaska, so moving to New York was kind of a dream, but it was also very hard. It’s famously hard. As people say, “if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.” Because of INROADS, I was able to have the opportunity to live in New York quite successfully. I was able to get a paid internship, which really helped since life in New York isn’t cheap.
What I loved about INROADS is that at its core, it teaches you how to join the professional world and how to be a person of color in the work environment.
What does being a person of color in the workplace entail?
In my work experience at GroupM, my team was made up of very strong, very intelligent Latina, Black and Indian women. I learned to put myself out there, be seen and never hide away. Be comfortable in whatever room you are in. If you are invited into a room, you deserve to be in that room.
My director at GroupM, Mebrulin Francisco, is my gold standard of being your unique self. I remember at one point, we had a meeting with a VP and some GroupM executives. After the meeting, I scheduled a meeting with her to give her all my thoughts and feedback and she looked at me, extremely disappointed but in a very considerate way.
She said, ‘They need to hear these ideas from you. Even when they might not listen, you need to get accustomed to saying your ideas, because there are going to be times when you’re going to be silenced. If you’re silencing yourself, it’s doubling down on the struggle that you’re going to have.’
This was my experience, but I don’t think it’s one everyone shares. People of color still face many barriers in the professional world, and hopefully, as diversity becomes more of a focus in corporate environments this changes.
Are there any last words you’d like to share?
Mentorship has really been a strong foundation for me, professionally. I was very lucky to have started my career being mentored by strong women of color who taught me to be myself and own a room. I now try to mentor other young professional women to do the same.
I would encourage people to seek strong mentorship and to mentor and support the younger professionals coming up behind you. That little bit of guidance and empowerment makes such a big difference.
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