Maria Castillo is a first-generation Mexican-American who does not shy away from bringing her history into her work. She was first drawn to Comcast by a role she saw in the field of marketing that was looking to focus on the Latino community. “I thought, how exciting and perfect would this role be for me—especially in Northern California, where there is such a large Latino market and especially Mexican-Americans, like myself,” says Maria on the first job she had with Comcast in 2012.
Maria is very proud and often speaks about her upbringing and heritage. Her parents immigrated to Half Moon Bay where her father worked in the agricultural fields and her mother worked several jobs, which included housekeeping, cooking and working at a local flower nursery. It is because of this can-do example supplemented by her family’s upbringing and values that has made Maria the woman she is today.
Now, as the new Director of Business Development, Maria is showing women that your passions have a place at work and showing up as our authentic selves is always the best route!
How would you describe your new role as a Director of Business Development?
My main job is to help expand the network services for Comcast Business and Xfinity Residential customers. It is my responsibility to come to work every day and try to find new opportunities in the commercial and residential areas to expand our footprint access. Since the pandemic, we have seen how the digital divide—especially in rural and underserved areas—has affected so many students, families and individuals. Because of this, my team is also looking at residential areas that are underserved and trying to figure out ways in which we can partner with local counties, cities and small rural towns to provide them with reliable, high-speed Internet. At the end of the day, it is our role to make sure all our customers are well connected, and that we’re providing them with the best service available.
What is a time you feel you have displayed a bold move in leadership?
When I first started on the business development team, we worked on a project in the city of Madera called Tesoro Viejo. There was a large new community of 6,000 homes and 2 million square feet of commercial and retail space that was about to break ground that fell outside our network plant. We were able to work with the development company in partnering together to find a practical solution to bring cable and broadband services to the community.
Comcast also worked with our business partner, Deep Blue to Wi-Fi enable the entire community spaces so residents, business owners and visitors could stay connected when they went for a jog the park, watch a movie in the amphitheater, or visit any of the other open community spaces.
From this, I learned that when you collaborate with the right team members, and you have relationships with your internal partners and external partners, you can truly make anything happen. But it is not one person who makes the bold move. It is all of us who work in symphony and are synchronized and show up for our customers and our communities. I wish I could say I was the one with the bold move, but no, it was every person who had a hand in that project.
What does boldness in leadership mean to you?
Boldness is when you know how we can all show up and put our best foot forward to provide a great experience for developers, cities and the places where our customers live.
Boldness is when you recognize what you bring to the table in terms of your uniqueness and perspective, that is what makes you bold. To show up fully for Comcast, the customers we serve and, yourself.
What is one piece of advice that you would give women leaders in all stages of their careers?
I have a daughter who is 27 years old, and I always tell her not to be fearful to ask for what you want. I learned this from watching my own mother, who was thoughtful and kind, and had such a strong presence; however, I could see that when she wanted something, she did not know how to ask for it. Now that women are participating in more senior positions, we must be confident and ask for what we want. At the end of the day, if you do not ask, no one will hear your voice, and when they do, the worst they can say is “no,” right?
You volunteer for the Make-A-Wish foundation as a bilingual wish granter. Can you tell us more about that and why you chose to volunteer your time in this way?
Children of Spanish-speaking parents, unfortunately, wait longer to have wishes granted because they have extremely limited wish granters that are bilingual. As a first-generation Latina, I remember my parents would ask me to translate for them at my school or a doctor’s appointment. I certainly understood how difficult it is not to have someone speak your native language.
It has been a great way to stay connected to my own background and help a child who’s going through a life-changing event. The child is already going through a difficult time but imagine what the parents are going through. Then to have a language barrier to top it off. This opportunity has really spoken to my heart.
What else are you passionate about outside of work?
Family is everything, it is my foundation. I am very passionate about my children, and I’m so grateful for such a beautiful family. As I mentioned earlier, I have parents who came here for a better life and I am so grateful that they came to California. My siblings and I are super close, for 30 years we have had dinner together every Sunday. Now that my mom has passed away, it has been more of a challenge. But we are determined to keep the tradition going.
How do you think your culture has played into your career?
My mom taught me the importance to persevere. Both my parents were so grateful because their life here is much better than it was in Mexico. What I learned from them through their experiences is not to fear hard work. Show up, get in there and do it.
They also emphasized the opportunity to better yourself through education. I was the first in my family to graduate from a university. Education opens doors. Once you have your education, that makes everything equal playing ground and you are able to focus on exactly what you want. I see this to be true in my career because I am always trying to learn more, whether that be from my peers, team members, taking a class, or reading a career development book.
Do you have a song that you listen to get you pumped up before an important meeting or a presentation?
I love Earth, Wind and Fire. I think it is great music and it doesn’t matter when you listen to it, it’s timeless. I also love Marc Anthony’s Vivir Mi Vida. It reminds me that we only have one life to live. So, live it and enjoy it, life is short.
There is not one particular song, it’s just whatever song will get me excited at that moment!
Is there a particular book that has influenced your leadership style?
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey has shown me a lot in terms of personal, professional, and spiritual balance. I recently did a book club with the Business Development Dept where we read The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz, we had such fun discussing it.