Left to right: Marianne Iannace, Manuela Rodriguez, Carmen Alvarez, Carolyn Esposito
As a data scientist and ballroom dancer, Marianne Iannace is not unfamiliar with balance - whether it be on her toes or through equations. In 2009, during Her Honor’s third year, Marianne was one of three Mastercard employees to sign on as a mentor in the program. Marianne was matched with 17-year-old Mount Vernon High School student Manuela Rodriguez, one of 29 participants to complete the program that year.
In her 2009 application essay, Manuela describes herself as shy. She shares enthusiastically about her passion for writing - both as an escape and as a way to capture her many thoughts. Manuela had moved to the United States as a child and learned english as a second language. “As a second language speaker, I felt afraid to speak up to tell people how I felt, because I believed that they would not comprehend me,” she writes in her application.
Hearing Manuela now, you might not know that you were speaking with the same young women. A Fordham graduate now pursuing her MBA in Management and Information Systems, the Her Honor team recently reconnected with Manuela to share her memories and reflect on her experience after Her Honor.
“Her Honor allowed me to gain a great deal of confidence. I walked into college so determined and motivated to do well,” Manuela reflected, “I remember the conversations I had with Marianne about some of the struggles women may face in the corporate world. She always told me to be persistent, to not take no for an answer, and that women don't have to accept the limitations others place on them. I carried her advice with me.”
Manuela put this advice to good use while navigating her college career. When a counselor discouraged Manuela from pursuing multiple majors, as she says, “I didn't listen. I ended up graduating with two majors and two minors from Fordham University and focused my energy and attention in doing well in all four subjects.”
As Marianne shared, “I believe the growth and experience is mutually beneficial!” Feedback such as this has encouraged our team to expand programs, deepen partnerships, and continue to support the professional development of women across our county.
Much has changed since 2009 - both globally and locally. For Her Honor, we’ve grown from 29 mentees across three schools to over sixty mentees representing seven high schools across Westchester. And our relationship with Mastercard has deepened, as well. While there were just three mentors and mentees in the 2009 - 2010 academic year, Mastercard has expanded its mentorship model to include seven mentoring teams:
- Mentee: Carolin Gonzalez; Mentor: Rayna McKenzie, ESS Legal
- Mentee: Gabriela Marcelino; Mentors: Rita Ramirez, NAM Digital Partnerships; Jackie Moore, Global Product Architect, Products and Innovation
- Mentee: Ludith Campos; Mentors: Kelley McDermott, Director North America Account Management; Tara O’Connell, Director North America Issuer Loyalty
- Mentee: Adrienne Brown; Mentors: Sarah Marino, Franchise; Cathy Lueders, NAM Legal; Tiffany Hall, NAM Legal
- Mentee: Natalia Dalling; Mentors: Ginger Siegel, NAM Product Management; Sol Cozzo, NAM Product Management; Nuria Guardado, NAM Digital Products & Labs Product Management
- Mentee: Jeanette Illescas; Mentors: Nagham Aukra, Talent Acquisition; Debbie Schiro, Corporate HR
- Mentee: Carmen Alvarez; Mentors: Carolyn Esposito, Director Partnership Marketing, NAM; Marianne Iannace, Vice President Data and Services
- Backup Mentors: Trecia Pessoa, NAM Legal; Evelyn Maldonado, Corporate HR
We are grateful for Mastercard’s continued partnership with Her Honor Mentoring throughout our decade of mentoring together. We believe the growth reflects Mastercard’s commitment to both “doing well and doing good.”
“Do well and do good: It’s the highest form of leadership. It’s the idea that you can pursue what is in your best interest as well as what is in the interest of others,” says Mastercard CEO, Ajay Banga, “It’s the recognition that your success is tied to the success of others. You know the saying, it’s lonely at the top? It’s only lonely at the top when you don’t bring other people along with you.”
Marianne Iannace is just one of the many Mastercard employees who has taken this idea to heart. Nearly ten years after her initial mentoring experience, Marianne is again serving as a Her Honor mentor and continuing to help young women climb to the top with her. This year, Marianne was matched with Carmen Alvarez, a student at Nellie A. Thornton High School.
Carmen’s interest in arts and science reflects the balance that Marianne has found in her own life as a data scientist and dancer. “Art requires an abstract mind that’s able to take the imaginary, the impossible, the surreal and bring it to life,” Carmen wrote in her application essay, “Science often needs a practical mind that has a desire for the truth.”
Carmen was drawn to the program because of the opportunity to have a strong women as a mentor. She hoped to gain real life experience in fields she might be interested in pursuing, “Her Honor Mentoring offers an incredible opportunity for me to be exposed to my field of interest with a mentor who is a leader within her profession." She splits her mentoring time between Marianne and Carolyn Esposito, Director Partnership Marketing, NAM. "The most rewarding part would be the friendship I have with my mentors, Marianne and Carolyn," Carmen shared.
In her work, Marianne has found ways to support each of her mentee’s individual goals, “Manuela had an interest in Psychology, so she focused on researching Retailers and the types of consumers a particular retailer may attract to help inform our Merchant Solutions. Carmen has an interest in Computer Programming, so she focused on learning a new Artificial Intelligence computer software language to transform a problem from manual to automated!”
These experiences have clearly impacted both Manuela and now Carmen. When asked her future career goals, Carmen shared that she would like to pursue a career in computer science, potentially as a programmer. And for Manuela? “For the long term future, I plan to continue my education and obtain a PhD (why limit myself now!). I would also love to give back to Her Honor and become a mentor myself one day.”
As we celebrate ten years of partnership, we applaud Marianne, Manuela, Carmen, and all of the mentoring teams - past, present and future - with our friends at Mastercard!
Want to learn more about the mentee's experience at Mastercard?
Check out this video of highlights from the 2018 Mastercard Mentee presentations..be