The Importance Of Mentors And Role Models In The Pursuit Of Your Dreams With Vere And Jenifer

career clarity mentor role model success transformation Apr 15, 2024
With Clarity & Purpose | Verenice Valencia and Jenifer Bruno | Role Models


You are more than enough to make it on your own. But who wants to tread a path blindfolded when someone who has already been there can help light the way? The power of having mentors and role models is undeniable, and it figures in a successful person’s journey. In this episode. We are joined by two of Yanet’s original mentees, Vere and Jenifer. Together, they share how having a mentor who looks like them and represents what they want to achieve really helped them in the pursuit of their dreams. Tune in and be inspired by their success!

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The Importance Of Mentors And Role Models In The Pursuit Of Your Dreams With Vere And Jenifer

This episode is super mega special because this is a day that I've been dreaming of. I have two very special guests that have been on my mind for the longest time. They don't know that for the longest time, I've been thinking and dreaming of bringing them to the show. These two special guests are my mentees and now friends. we met back in 2013 through a mentorship program and we were going to talk more about it whenever I was at ExxonMobil.

I had started working full-time for ExxonMobil and now I'm a coach. Many things have changed with me and with them. I want to introduce you all because we are going to be talking about the importance of mentorship and having a role model in the pursuit of your dreams, whatever your dreams are. These two very special guests are Vere and Jenifer. Vere is a healthcare system engineer focused on process improvement to reduce waste and variation. Jenifer is a procurement professional in the oil and gas industry. How are you both doing? I am excited for these.

This is definitely exciting and a long time coming. We have a lot to discuss. There's been so much growth with having you as a role model because I never had that growing up. I'm excited for this show and the opportunity to discuss it.

That is sweet. Vere, tell us where you originally are from and give us a fun fact about yourself, whatever that thing is.

Thanks. My parents are originally from Mexico. I was born and raised here in Texas, Baytown specifically. I've been there my whole life. Now I live in Clear Lake. We got a house over here. We got married a few years ago. I moved in with my husband. We're excited to be here. I used to have this fun fact that I used to say during school, which was one summer I got to the point where I binge-watched all the potential TV shows I could and decided to read books. I read 36 books in two months because of how bored I was.

That's a lot of fun.

If you ask me how many books I've read since I graduated and started working, it's probably five.

That's hilarious. I've never met someone who has read many books in such a short amount of time. That's awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. How about you Jenifer?

My parents are also from Mexico. I was born in Houston and raised in Baytown and now live in Houston. A fun fact about me, it's amazing because it always reminds me of my grandma. I'm the only one in my family like my parents, sisters, and some cousins that have green eyes, which are my grandma's eyes and she's now passed away. It's a little piece that always reminds me of my grandma.

That is so sweet. I didn't know any of these fun facts, even though we have known each other since 2013, many years ago, we are still getting to know each other. This is a lot of fun. Let's talk about the journey because we met whenever you were interested in studying Chemical Engineering and then ExxonMobil had this community initiative. I was the lead for the Latinos ERG, the Latino group in the Baytown Refinery.

We had this initiative where we partnered with Lee College, a community college in Baytown and then they had this mentorship program of students that were interested in transitioning from community college to a four-year university. I was all about it, but we are going to get there. Tell us about your journey of getting into college and not only that, expressing your interest in chemical engineering. How was that for you? How did you get to that? Vere, if you want to start.

As soon as I graduated from high school, at some point I identified, “Do I want to go to a 2 or 4-year?” I knew that based on my parents and their social and economic status, it made more sense to go to a two-year college because of the money. It's cheaper and then we'll probably talk about this throughout, but part of it was also that Lee College had a lot of opportunities for scholarships, especially within the STEM field and helped with the transition from a 2-year college to a 4-year university. The decision was purely the opportunities that it had and how the price difference from the 2-year to 4-year. I'll talk about why I wanted to do Chemical Engineering and then why I transitioned out of Chemical Engineering.

Let's start with Chemical Engineering.

When I was in 5th, 6th, or one of those grades where they do a STEM day for girls in Engineering. It's ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil had girls in Engineering or STEM Day. There were a lot of women professionals that were there at Exxon and then they showed different things that you could do in the STEM field. I remember that one of them was Chemical Engineering. I remember that they had one for Civil Engineering. They gave you marshmallows and toothpicks. You had to build a bridge or something. Chemical engineering, I don't remember now because it was fifth grade, but they did something and I was like, “I wanted to be a chemical engineer,” because at that point I knew I enjoyed Math and Science

I was good at both of them. I liked problem-solving. I just didn't know which specific one, but then they had that day where they showed, “This is what chemical engineering is.” To me, it looked fun. I was good at all the subjects. I was like, “Why not? Let's give this a chance.” Part of it was whenever you graduate with chemical engineering, there's good pay and good job opportunities. Most of the time you're looking at, “What do I want to do?” You're like, “How fast will I get a job? What's going to be the pay?” You don't want to spend four years doing something and then you won't get a job or the pay is going to be not what you want or the lifestyle you need.

There are many commonalities in my own story too, but I want to know about Jenifer. How was the journey for you until you got into, “I'm interested in Chemical Engineering,” and in choosing Lee Community College?

My reason for choosing Lee College is that I'm a first-generation student in college. I had no idea what I was doing. I had never had the preparation of like, “Let's get you started looking at schools. Where do you want to go next?” My dad always said, “You need to keep going to school.” I had no idea what I wanted to do. I didn't know the real process. The SAT was like, “I knew about it but didn't fully understand the process.” It was the easiest, most convenient, and most next pass for me. That made sense. I grew up in Baytown. It was 10 or 5 minutes from my house. It was a community college and a good way for me to get started, get my feet wet, and experience all that.

The money aspect came into it. That's how it started. I wasn't prepared to go to a four-year college. I applied to Lee College and started my journey there. The reason why I chose Chemical Engineering is I've always enjoyed Math, but not as much Science. I was more of a Math person. Growing up in Baytown, the refineries were like your backyard, my dad worked in the refineries. It was what I knew. I also knew that you could make a lot of good money. Coming from my background, I was like, “High-paying job. Good opportunities.” There are opportunities right in my backyard. It makes sense to me to go that route and that's why I chose it.

The Beauty Of Mentorship

That is powerful because identify so much with both of you. My mom was focused on survival, on bringing bread to the table. She didn't know anything about the educational system. She didn't know anything about engineering or anything about anything. I had to guide myself to the best of my abilities because at that moment I didn't have mentors or anything like that. I chose Chemical Engineering because I loved Chemistry. I was good at Math and engineering is a high-paying job. Part of the vision is always coming from the background that we come from. It's always to be able to provide, sometimes help the family, and be able to break those generational cycles. Future generations can be and do better. I'm inspired by your story already and I'm learning much that I didn't know. I'm excited.

You go to the College of Chemical Engineering. There is this mentorship program, somehow we get connected together. I got two mentees. Some mentors got 1 or 2. I don't even know. If I remember, well this program was for a quarter, semester, or something like that. It wasn't a whole year, but in my mind for me, mentorship was like a relationship, a commitment that was not just a temporary thing and then I met both of you.

What was your thought process when you heard, “You're going to get a mentor.” You didn't know me yet and the first time you met me because I'm going to say later, there is something one of you told me that always has stuck in my mind and I'm like, “I still think about it and it's amusing.” What was your reaction or perspective on getting a mentor and then what happened when you got one and, and you met me at that time that you didn't know me before?

I will speak a little bit further back to my experience at Lee College. I was welcomed and brought in to like the community. I was able to work on campus and met Ms. Marone who was the leader of the STEM program. I was already being found with the opportunities and people to guide me because I had no idea what I wanted to do. Thinking back like how life in the world and God was taking care of me and guiding me in the right direction. Starting there, that then led to the STEM program with Ms. Haron, meeting you and I was glad that me and Bea knew each other from before then. It was nerve-wracking for me to meet someone. It was very empowering to meet someone who had already done it.


It’s very empowering to meet someone who had already done it.


I remember when I met you and you were coming in from Puerto Rico. I was like, “That is amazing. She left her family behind. She did the thing. She graduated. She now has a job at Exxon where I potentially in my backyard thought I would have.” That was my goal of what I thought once things what the idea of what I thought I wanted for myself. You had already done it and it was very attainable. You made it seem more attainable. When I met you, I knew coming from a Hispanic family, you mentioned that it wasn't for you. We have a requirement to meet once a month or once a quarter. You took it a step further and created a relationship.

I remember me and Amanda would talk about it. We're nervous like, “Can we ask her? How much can we ask her? Is she comfortable with sharing? Is it okay to ask these questions? Is it not? Are we asking for too much?” It was great that you welcomed us and were open. We've gone from a mentorship to a relationship and to being more comfortable to have those conversations the woman that I am now would've never had those conversations back in the day. The more uncomfortable the conversation is, I love it because I'm like, “I want to get to know people. I want to know everything.” That a lot helped with having you around and having that mentorship and guidance.

I've seen both of you grow so much. I remember Jenifer when I met you many years ago, you were very shy and you were trying to find your way and now you are a completely different person in the aspect of you speak up, get out there and shine your light instead of divvy your light. For me, it has been inspiring and empowering to see that journey and the beautiful growth that you have had. It has been amazing. Vere, you go. I'm excited for your story.

I'll go to what Jennifer said because I think at the beginning it helped that it was two people who knew each other because honestly, and I'm still the same shy, introverted person.

It doesn't seem like it.

I'm an introvert but I know when I have to get out of my shell, be more friendly and outgoing in different settings. For me, it was very refreshing how young you were. Whenever we first met you and I saw how young you were, it made me excited because I'm like, “She's full of energy. She went through this not that long ago. She's going to have many valuable insights to bring into this mentorship.” I don't remember but I think at the beginning you mentioned that we were probably your first official mentees or I don't know. Maybe it was the first official time that we did it through like some program. All of us trying to learn and do the best that we could knowing that we all wanted all of us to succeed with this mentorship.

That was exciting as well, then the fact that at that point you were a chemical engineer. I remember that there was some other mentees that had mentors but they weren't maybe specifically what they wanted. Maybe they were trying to do rehab but it was like a PE teacher or something. I don't remember. For us it was perfect. It was like, “You have a female chemical engineer.” When I first saw you I was like, “Oh, man.” You're full of energy.

You're like, “Engineers can be fun and happy, it seems like.”

At some point, you probably have stereotypes of most engineers are male and to some extent, that's pretty accurate whenever you're sitting in a class for engineering you'll see that there are women in the class but the majority are male students. It was refreshing. It was probably the best word to say.

That is powerful because it's true about the stereotypes. I think your mom or you told me that you imagine this lady engineer comes with heels and seems like an unreachable thing and a superior energy in some way. Was that your mom or?

I don't remember it. It sounds like my mom probably, but maybe I did.

Maybe it was your mom and I think she was like, “I saw you. You look like us. It was such a humbling experience.” I never thought that in my mind but it makes sense because our parents have never been exposed to to the path that we have taken. Sometimes many things as immigrants may seem impossible or unreachable because of where we came from. I always remember that comment and to me that is inspiring. It's important to have role models and mentors that look like you.

It’s evidence that it can happen to you too. I love that you mention the stereotypes thing because I always think of that comment. You met me as an engineer. You have been through all of these eleven years of transition from engineering to supply chain. Me getting certified as a coach, we were reading books from John Maxwell together in a park and doing lots of personal development, which is hilarious in a good way that you have seen that reinvention and you have gone through your own reinvention because like me, you do decided chemical engineering and later on you evolved. You invented your career and education into something else. What empowered you to move from chemical engineering to something that felt in more alignment with you? You can start, Jenifer.

You helped me. I remember calling you and we talked about this one time, but taking it a step back, talking back about 1) I didn't know what I was doing. I chose what I chose because of the money because it seemed like potentially a good fit. It's Math. I can get a job right there. It’s a perfect fit, but because of our financial situation, I didn't have the opportunity to explore and mess up. I had this very big, “I couldn't mess up. I couldn't go see if maybe I liked Geology or something else. I had to continue to work towards something that was going to bring value.” With me, Vera and you as well mentioned, you want to be able to provide, bring them the money and have a job when you graduate.

I'm not going to twiddle my thumbs. I was still in school when you transitioned into supply chain and you started talking to us about that. The transition from a community college to a four-year college was tough for me because we had such a community with the STEM program with Ms. Marone and you that we didn't get that when we transitioned out and then it was a shock. Transitioning out was crazy. I didn't necessarily have my parents to go to and say, “I don't know what I'm doing. It's normal to get 50 or 60 in Engineering classes. To me I was a failure. I couldn't allow myself to fail. I ended up transitioning out of that and then somehow ended up in construction management for a little bit.

I didn't like it but I also chose it because of the money seemed like easy enough, similar to what I was doing. I got to talking to you. I got to learn more about the supply chain. I ended up in a supply chain course. Things started to fall into place in different directions and then ended up in the business school supply chain and had you to ask questions on that side because you had transition. That’s how I transitioned out and I'm glad I did because now thinking back, my personality definitely fits a lot more with supply chain. I get to negotiate.

Things are changing daily business money and negotiating. I remember when I got into the supply chain class and I was like, “You can haggle and it's fun.” When I go back to my memories in Mexico, I'm like, “Can you give 2 of these for $10?” They're like, “$20.” I'm like, “No, 2 and I'll buy $10.” Things started falling into place. It did come at me failing and taking different directions but eventually, it led to supply chain and the business in the school of business and changed my trajectory.

I love that so much because sometimes we want clarity right away, but clarity is a byproduct of experimenting truly. Getting to know yourself at the deepest level. I love your journey because it goes through this path of you getting to know yourself but also gaining clarity on what was aligning with yourself. That's a powerful story. I can totally see you in the supply chain. You're a very people person. Even in the journey right between the three of us, what I was learning myself is you have to find yourself.


As a mentor, I never felt like, “No, you need to stay in chemical engineering.” To me, that didn't make any sense because I was finding my own path first of all. I was a great role model in reinventing yourself. Everyone needs to discover what feels authentic and in alignment to them. How you get there remains flexible. I love that both of you have stayed loyal to that alignment and those values that you have found within yourself. Vere, I cannot wait to know your story. I love Jenifer’s. Tell us about it. A lot of people are going to be inspired by these reinvention stories.

I totally forgot whenever Jennifer was talking about that. When we were transitioning, I think you were also transitioning. It was a lot of support. I had already done a semester of chemical engineering. When we first started, you started getting those grades that were 50 and that's the average. If you got a 50 that's good and you're like, “What?” You get discouraged of, “Is this what I want to do?” I still remember this. There was this one class, and the professor said, “If this class is the basis of chemical engineering, this is chemical engineering,” and I was like, “I hate this class. I'm out.”

What class was that? Mass Balance?

It was Thermodynamics.

I'm raising my hand. Thermodynamics was like talking to the cosmic energy over there. I'm like, “What are we talking about?”

He's like, “This expands. You continue to grow on this.” I was like, “I hate this class.” In the other class, I was like, “Okay, sure.” In that class, I was like, “I'm not doing it.” At that point, we already had a community of people that we had already done our basics with at the community college. One of our friends was doing Industrial Engineering. I started asking, “What is Industrial Engineering?” I started doing research and then I liked the different courses, what an industrial engineer would do and decided to take a class or two. I did some Chemistry classes to see like, “Is my passion maybe Chemistry, not Engineering or is it Engineering?”

I took two and I decided to stick to industrial engineering since I liked it. I do remember that at that point like, and I think this is something you always mentioned like vulnerability, “Be okay with being vulnerable.” That helped because as we were moving towards our four years of college, our parents felt invested. They're like, “You're going to do this and pushing us to do that,” then it also felt like, “I'm failing my parents because my parents have put so much effort into me doing this that I'm failing myself. I'm failing my parents and my family.” At some point, I identified, “It doesn't matter because you're failing right now or not even failing. It's reinventing.” I liked how you said it.

To me, at first, I thought it was a failure like, “This is too hard. I don't want to do it. I'm failing myself, but no. I didn't like it. There's no reason for me to continue.” When you're thinking about it is your parents don't care if you're a chemical engineer or you're this or that, They just care that you're happy and successful and you have a good life, not even the success. It's that you're happy and you're having a good life. That's what your parents care about. At some point, I identified, it doesn't matter what I do, as long as I'm happy, my parents are going to be happy that I was able to get a higher education, something that they weren't even able to achieve or even thought that would be possible. That summarizes it all.

Both of your stories are powerful. I love the comment both of you have said, “I felt like a failure.” There is no failure, only feedback. The only thing you were getting is that feedback of what's in more alignment within yourself. On the way to success there are going to be a lot of those moments of course correcting and going one way, “Maybe this is not the way. Let's get some data and make a data-driven decision.” That's the consulting side of me. It's all about gathering data and gaining clarity to make better decisions later on to become more wise, which is what you both have done.


There is no failure, only feedback.


Sometimes I think like, “They saw me through my whole reinvention which didn't stop in the supply chain and went far beyond well.” How did having a mentor empower you to make those decisions and to believe more in yourself? I think a lot of women struggle with imposter syndrome, believing they are not enough, they are not worthy, they are not capable, and people-pleasing, which I love what you both have said about your parents and realizing that, “If I'm happy, they're going to be happy.” That's what matters at the end of the day. Progress equals happiness, “I'm progressing. That's what matters.” Having a mentor empowers you to own those decisions and feel that you were enough to make them happen.

I don't think my life would be what it is now, without the support that I've received. From having you in my life, I’m forever grateful. I still feel like sometimes we still talk but there are not always people that you can rely on and/or say, “I made a mistake. What should I do?” I know that me and you have been able to have some conversations that I remember literally calling you saying, “I just took this class. I am enjoying the supply chain. Do you think that maybe it would be okay?” I guess I was asking you for permission because even though I wanted to, I couldn't give that permission to myself because the failure or, “You're not doing what you said you were going to do or you're changing your mind too many times so maybe it's not okay.”

You were always that encouragement or safe place to say, “It's fine. Go ahead and try it without sometimes having that feedback or somebody that you can bounce ideas off of.” I feel like you can get stuck. For me, “I can get stuck. I need to talk it out.” I need to I guess even sometimes feel validated like, “What I am thinking? Am I crazy? Am I making the wrong choice? Am I not?” It's been good in that aspect because there are not a lot of people who had that experience while I was going through it. Having a mentor you to rely to be able to bounce ideas off of was amazing.

Learning Both Ways

That is sweet. I feel that in my heart. I always tell both of you have learned a lot about me, but I've learned a lot from both of you. You two have been an inspiration because the mentorship-mentee relationship goes both ways. The mentor is always learning from the mentees a lot and I'm still learning from you. It's such a symbiotic, I never used that word but somehow it came up, a relationship where there is a lot of fulfillment, satisfaction and tons of benefits of having someone to bounce off ideas off and to get guidance.

Many times that guidance is through questions because questions allow you to get to know yourself a lot better. I had mentors in college and corporate. Not having a mentor in corporate is a big no-no. You got to have mentors. I have mentors now in entrepreneurship. I know myself the benefits of having a mentor and being a mentee too. I'm grateful for both of you being in my life. I appreciate you so much. Tell me about it. Vere, I know you have tons of things to say.

For me, you helped with the empowerment piece because if it wasn't for you during this whole transition period, it would've taken me longer to get there. I would've eventually gotten out of Chemical Engineering, but it wouldn't have been at that point. I would've been miserable for a semester or two more longer because I remember still having that conversation with my mom. My mom was basically asking me and questioning me like, “Is it that hard? Can you not do it?”

She didn't understand. She was more coming at it like, “You're a capable, smart person. Just do it.” I was like, “That's not what I want to do. It wasn't that.” It was that I didn't want to do it. I think having you helped with that. It’s good to have a mentor who symbolizes what you want and reflects where you're coming from because my mom knew you, I'm like Mom, “You think Yanet is successful, right? You think she's a good person.” My mom would be like, “Yes, but why are you bringing up Yanet?”

I'm like, “It shows that people do this. People transition. It's okay. It's perfectly fine. It doesn't mean anything.” That helped with the conversation with my mom like, “I'm doing this, but other people have done this also. You can't just stay stagnant the whole time.” That helped with that. Even thinking about mentorships at all, based on the good mentorship we had, then I'm open to having other mentorships too. Me and Jennifer, it wasn't a success, but we were mentors after at Lee College. We weren't the best mentors, but it works both ways. You have to be good at reaching out and then they have to be good.

You have to reach out. They have to reach out. You have to be comfortable. Having that then made me want to do that to other people, then even you mentioned at the corporate level now too, I've identified okay, I've got unofficial mentors that I've gone within my department to help me and give me feedback. I've also been identified like, “Can you mentor this person because they need that data, analytical skills that you have and they don't have it, but they're such a good person that we don't want to lose them is that they're struggling with this.”

I've also been recommended, “Sometimes I've noticed that you're good at presenting but you could be better by doing this and I think this person would help you.” I'm like, “Thank you.” That's good feedback. You always want to grow and told me, “This is a person that should be your mentor.” Now I'm like at the mentor-mentee level at the corporate level successful. I think the other one was not successful, but I think it depends on who it is and whether they want to be a part of it. It's also the thing,

It goes both ways. At the corporate level, this is something that maybe a lot of people don't talk about, but ideally, and this is for the readers, they're in corporate, but ideally in corporate, you need two things, a mentor and a sponsor that is like a mentor but operates at higher levels of leadership, which is someone that has decision power who is also looking out for you because you're amazing. You don't owe these people anything. You are just amazing clearly. It's important to have a diversity of mentors so everyone that is in the room, truly knows you. Other than doing your job and being excellent at it. It's important to incorporate and even in entrepreneurship for you to develop those relationships genuinely and strategically.

What I felt at times is that there was maybe an expectation of me to want to convince you to stay as a chemical engineer. I don't know why I felt that way sometimes, not from the program or anything like that. I got that vibe basing my memory. I don't know where it came from to me it was like, “I'm not forcing myself to stay somewhere I don't like. Why would I force others? That doesn't make any sense.” It's important to honor that gut feeling like you usually know in your body what you like and what doesn't feel aligned. The journey is also more about honoring yourself and paying attention to what you feel because to me it took a panic attack to say, “I'm done with this.”


You don't need to get into crisis like I did tolerating until your body says like, “No more,” and you know this. Paying attention is super important. I have many things in my mind when you're talking and I'm like, “I need to write it down because this is freaking good. I love it.” You saw yourself as a failure when you were thinking about pivoting, but you saw me pivoting a lot and even after the supply chain continued pivoting, what was your perception of me, which is outside of you, when it came to me reinventing and pivoting over and over?

Whenever you were doing that, I saw you as courageous and this is how I am. At some point, I'm very structured and I need to follow a process. I see it more linearly and it's not supposed to be linear. I was like, “It takes a lot of courage to then do this and this and step out of your comfort zone,” because whenever I had to do it, I probably had a panic attack telling my parents I was going to do it, then after that, I think it became more normalized because then I did it. It didn't feel too bad. I was able to still achieve what I wanted to. I was like, “Yanet has a lot of courage to do this.” I'm sure Jenifer and yourself have been in positions like this where you have coworkers that are very negative and they're not happy with what they're doing, but they stay there.

I'm like, “Have the courage to change, move or do something.” Do an assessment. What do you want to do? I remember I had a teacher. I even told the teacher once and I got in trouble. I was like, “If you don't like teaching, then quit.” I got sent to the principal's office. I didn't go, but I got sent. I’m like, “If she wanted to be a teacher, if she liked being a teacher, then well how could she bring happiness back that she's a happy teacher or don't be a teacher because now you're giving this bad energy to your students.” To me, I'm like, “You have the courage. Not everybody has the courage. Some people are miserable in their jobs for the rest of their lives.” That's what I thought.

Those were wise words to your teachers. Clearly, that person didn't take it properly, but it is true. What is within your control? If you're deciding to stay, then you have to change the way you see things. If you don't want to stay, then you have to have that courage. Both of them require courage, but what doesn't require courage is staying in the same place suffering with the same perspective, and the same mindset, like complaining. I think that's such a limiting way to live and it's not worth it at all.

I wanted to ask that question because I think many times we are hard on ourselves. When someone does the things we want to do, we see that person in a positive light. When we want to do it, sometimes we don't give ourselves permission to do that thing. That's why mentors and role models are important. How about you, Jenifer? What do you think? Were you like, “Is she crazy? Another pivot?”

I would never thought you were crazy. I always thought like, “That's great. I want to be that way too. I want to build my own business.” That's the goal. I was like, “She's doing it, quitting her job, putting all her effort into it and following her passion. How amazing?” What you're saying right now, it's like if I try to change anything, I'm critical of myself. I was very proud. I was very encouraging of you. I was excited for you. I was happy that you were taking this step into doing what you loved and you had found what you love, but switching it then back to me, I'm like, “I would've been terrified.” I’m proud of you.

You are so sweet. I want to normalize like every time I made a change I was freaking out. I didn't go to Instagram and say, “I'm freaking out, I'm going to quit.” No one knows because it happens in the dark, but every time I was going to make a change, I was freaking out. Even when I quit Exxon and I moved to Accenture in consulting, I remember I was nervous and anxious. This is weird, but so you know like you have veins? One of my eyes explode or something.

That's how anxious I was about making this decision that was totally aligned. The most aligned decisions are the scariest one, but it's important that we don't allow that fear to stop us because then we are living in that zone of limitation and of, “The world is happening to me. I'm not a creator of course.” You two have been amazing creators of your past in your own way. What I'm excited about is that you are going to teach your kids, future generations that empowerment and that por that you have had during this whole journey, which I think is empowering.

I feel like we're building something a community within ourselves to help the future help. I'm more than happy to try to help my sisters. Anybody who asks for help and thinks about the resources that they will have that we didn't have is very exciting because you've been through it. Hopefully, they listen to it though because we can be stubborn as teenagers, but it’s exciting to think of that.

If not, they can get mentors too.

It’s not me. Somebody else has to tell them.

Someone who is looking to people in their careers to find more fulfillment, more alignment and it has been in your shoes. That person is in your shoes, whoever you were in the past, what would you recommend to that person? If someone is like, “I'm not happy where I'm at, even if it's my job, career, business or with a client, it doesn't matter.” That person wants to pivot but doesn't know how and is scared. What is one thing that you would recommend this person to do? The first thing that comes to your heart.

The Path To Clarity

Sometimes is to trust, listen to yourself and try to do the best that you can because it's all you have in the moment. You can't see the future. You can't predict what's going to happen. Take a day by day and try to assess what's going to be the best for you and show up in your best every day to get to where you want to be. Failure is definitely not the worst thing that can happen. It's a great thing. If you can lean into that and find your purpose or passion and all that. You have so much life to live. You have time to make mistakes and figure it out.


You have so much life to live. You have time to make mistakes and figure it out.


The only way to succeed is you got to fail forward. It's part of the process. I love what you said, like get to know yourself, show up as your best self and give yourself permission to mess up because you're going to do it anyway. What about you, Vere? What would you recommend to someone who is like, “I want to pivot? I don't know what to do. What's going on?”

The same thing that Jenifer mentioned, trial and error because you don't know what you want maybe at that point that's reasonable, then try something, see if it works and if not, then look at something else and then do an assessment of what makes you happy because I know my sister changed a lot of times. At one point, she was doing nursing, and engineering, didn't like engineering, went back, did something else, and now's back in engineering and she's doing good. I remember telling her, I was like, “It's okay. Just try it. See if you like it. If you don't like it, then okay, you tried. You've attempted and now you can identify, ‘I like this aspect of this and this aspect I did not like.’”

That gets you closer to your end result. Try it, see what works, what doesn't work and then learn from it. That goes back to what Jenifer mentioned because that's what we both did. She tried construction management, then went to a supply chain. I tried chemistry and industrial engineering. I liked industry engineering. Similar to what you did. You tried different things and you've identified, “I'm not a big fan of this. This is my calling,” then that's what led you to where you're now.

I love everything that you both have said. I would add one thing, ask for help. I've been working on this more now that I'm an entrepreneur, that is like, “What's the path?” It's even more uncertain. Ask for help. It requires much for it because we are being taught to be self-reliant at all times. Mainly, women, we have to be self-reliant. We have to be perfect. Everything has to be linear in a way. Asking for help from a mentor, your family, friend and getting to know a community of people also who are operating at that level of empowerment could be helpful for you. The people that you surround yourself with truly make a huge difference.


I love that so much. As we conclude, I want you to talk about what are you dreaming of lately? If you look back in your life, you have broken already many generational cycles from your past generations. You have accomplished many dreams that you didn't even know were possible where you are at. Many of them you thought were impossible because you didn't see a way to get there at that moment. What are you dreaming of lately? What's the next thing for you? Whatever you feel comfortable with. It can be anything. You can start, Vere. What are you dreaming of lately?

There are two pieces to this. I'll start with what my initial dream was and what it has become both professional and personal. In my professional, when I was young, my goal was to change the world. It's funny because even now I tell my husband, I was like, “Sometimes I get down, but I haven't done anything to change anything.” He's like, “No, you have. You're working on projects that lead to patients having better outcomes or improving different patient care things.”

I want to continue to do that at a big level. I want to make sure that all the patients who have cancer have good care during their time and that we continue to improve that. The other piece is as we grow and think about families, then I want to still have now my children be able to have that good role model and have the support to do whatever they want and not feel judged or made to do something, but more as, “We're here to support you,” and then have them experience a lot of stuff that I wasn't able to.

Me and my husband enjoy traveling. That's one thing that we always talk about like, “I can't wait to travel with our kids to do this, then they can experience the different cultures, and then know that this is all possible and feasible because that's things that we didn't have growing up.” We didn't have like, “We can go to this different country, experience all these different things and all the different opportunities that are out there that we didn't know.”

I love that so much. I love your dreams. I'm inspired by them. That's beautiful. How are you, Jenifer? What are you dreaming of lately?

This isn't a dream, but how I started. The word that has resonated with me is taking responsibility of my life, my actions, my surroundings and my knowledge. I feel like I grew up with my dad telling me like, “You went to school, you should know this.” I was like, “I don't know this.” I guess I just don't know like I'm not smart enough or I didn't come with those skills. It's been taking responsibility for learning those things that I don't know enough about, having a growth mindset, being okay with failure and being okay with not being perfect because I can be a perfectionist.

I’m daydreaming about becoming the best version of myself for myself, for my family, for my partner, for my potential future kids and for the people before us before who were breaking all those generational traumas. What I've been daydreaming about is focusing on taking action, responsibility and bettering everything else by taking responsibility for myself.


Focus on taking action and bettering everything else by taking responsibility for yourself.


When we look at all of our dreams is fulfilling that potential, like being our best version for ourselves and others so we can serve and continue growing. I think both of your dreams are truly inspiring.I love asking that question because maybe when kids, we were being asked like, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” As we grow into adults, no one ask us anymore like, “What do you want to do when you continue growing? What are you dreaming of lately?” It's such a powerful question that you both had answers for. Clearly, you are being the creator of your own life, which is powerful.

Reading lots of books, and podcasts and working on myself.

That's a beautiful dream. I am immensely grateful to both of you for this relationship that we have nurtured and fostered throughout the years. I'm happy that we have grown together and we have pivoted all of us together. From my heart, thank you so much for being here. You have changed my life. I want to thank you for that.

Thanks, Yanet. At first, and this is me, anytime I have to do anything, I'm public speaking, I'm always afraid, but thank you for making this such a good interview. I didn't feel nervous at all. I'm pretty sure Jenifer didn't. I also value your friendship and everything that you've been able to show us as we all grow together.

This is great. Thank you for many years. I hadn't thought back to how long it's been, but thank you so much for your mentorship. Everyone in this world needs a mentor in any situation, but especially those who don't have people who think like you, look like you or have gone through what you want to do. It can be lonely and very challenging. It's always good to have someone in your corner who has already been through that and can help you and guide you along the way. You've done that amazingly. Thank you so much.


I appreciate you both. I'm happy you had fun. We wanted to have fun and serve in this interview. That's the whole purpose. Some concluding thoughts, mentorship is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, mentoring others and getting mentored. If you don't have a mentor anywhere, stage that you're in, it doesn't matter. You got to get a mentor. You got to start mentoring people. I think that's how you learn more about yourself and continue growing. I hope you enjoy this episode with these two rock stars.

Share it with your friends and your family. I cannot wait for you both to share it with your families. I'm sure I'm going to get a message from Vere’s mom. She used to message me all the time, which I loved. I was very responsive. She is so sweet. All of your family, like both of you, are sweet. Thank you so much, everyone. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week. I'll see you next episode.


About Jenifer Bruno

Jenifer is a Procurement professional in the oil and gas industry.





About Verenice Valencia

Vere is a healthcare system engineer focused on process improvement to reduce waste and variation.





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