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Latino Trailblazer

Maria Martinez

  • Gender: Female
  • Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • University: The Ohio State University
  • University: Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan
  • Undergraduate Degree: Bachelors
  • Graduate Degree: Master of Science in Computer Engineering

Maria Martinez is the Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Experience Officer at Cisco, a multinational S&P 500 technology corporation, based in Silicon Valley. There, she oversees the company’s multi-billion dollar Services and Customer Success organizations. In a career now spanning nearly 40 years, she has also been a successful executive leader at diverse organizations within the technology sector, including Salesforce, Microsoft, and Motorola. 

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she looks back and considers herself fortunate. Her father passed away when she was young, but her mother was an inspirational figure who worked to provide her daughter with the opportunity of a private education. Later, in high school, a math teacher recognized Maria’s ability and encouraged her to pursue engineering. This led her to Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, where she earned a BS in Electrical Engineering. After graduation, she left Puerto Rico to work as a department head for AT&T Bell Labs, while simultaneously completing her MS in Computer Engineering at The Ohio State University.

She assumed her first executive level position at Motorola, before moving to Embrace Networks, a start-up, at which she served as President and CEO. She then devoted several years to Microsoft, where she managed their global services business. Prior to joining Cisco, she was the President of the Customer Success Group and Success Cloud at Salesforce, where she also served as the General Manager for Latin America.

In 2018, she joined Cisco as the Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Experience Officer. There, her role is to help customers transform their businesses by utilizing Cisco's software, subscription, and services.  

Maria is committed to supporting others both professionally and personally through coaching and other avenues. As a leader, she also firmly believes in the importance of a work-life balance. As a working mother, she made it a point to create opportunities to spend meaningful time with her daughter. She believes that the close relationship they now enjoy is an outcome of that intentional relational investment. She expects employees to be committed to customer satisfaction, but she also thinks it is important for companies to offer their employees flexibility, enabling them to create a healthy balance between work and family.

Today, she seeks to inspire students to pursue similar opportunities in the fields of science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM). In an interview with Hispanic Executive, she said, “I take every opportunity that I can to support organizations that promote STEM and early career development, and to speak with girls in underserved neighborhoods and schools, to make them aware of these opportunities.”

She also believes that career focus is an important aspect of success. Even in challenging career situations, she encourages others to focus on what can be learned from the experience, and refuse to be discouraged, while also seeking to follow their passion.