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Diego Alvarado – Meet the Mentor

Passionate in learning more about people. Sport fan, and outdoor geek.
Diego Alvarado

Director Program Management, SiriusXM / Pandora

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

I always knew that I have a good interaction with people, I like to share and listen to others experiences.

More than 15 years ago someone came to me asking for a question about his career, and during the conversations, I saw that he kept calling me for advice. At that point I realized that I can help people grow. I kept open to conversations with others and trying to support as much as I could. 

Then a friend of mine opened a startup accelerator, and then asked me to join as an Advisor to the COO, during that process I mentored not only the COO, but multiple startups CEOs and teams about operations, project management, organization, etc. 

The success comes focusing on the person running the startup.

After that transition I started to get involved in other accelerators and incubators supporting entrepreneurs all around the world to organize, grow and scale.

How did you get your career start?

My career started in Argentina, where I am originally from after I graduated with a degree in Telecommunications, I worked in multiple multi-national telecom companies. During this process, my family and I lived in different countries and cities (mainly settle in the UK and USA).

Since graduated, I have been passionate about startup and starting my own business, so that I started building companies as a side hassle, from Argentina to the UK and now in the USA.

The process of creating, and failing a startup is great because with failures comes a lot of learning not only in the business part, but personally, being more open to listen and learn from others.

I started as an engineer and start developing towards management, more because I am a generalist, I get bored doing the same thing every time so I am constantly looking for challenges.

For the last 12 year, I worked in Project, Program and Portfolio Management, helping teams in the same way that is needed in a startup or an entrepreneur, in getting organized, learn about a new technology, and supporting the grow, teaching on how to get more done with less time.

One anecdote that I have is that when working with entrepreneurs, I thought to go and take a MBA, I applied, got selected and then I got into a transition phase thinking what would be better, start another startup or persuade my MBA. At the end, the decision was simple, studying a structural curriculum was not for me, so I started another startup, but this time with the idea to learn some weak areas such as marketing and new software development technologies (I was more a back-end geek), and I don't regret one bit my decision, I have learned to do marketing, hiring, product developement and product management, skills that I wouldn't have if I was to decision to take an MBA.

What do mentees usually come to you for?

I had a big variety of mentors, I started with career advice, but then I moved fully to startup mentoring and coaching to CEO and startup employees for a long time.

In startups, I usually help CEOs to align their thoughts and create a proper strategy for the company. I advise their employees and executives to make sure they understand what are their responsibilities in the company and learn to take the new roles.

Currently I am still supporting entrepreneurs and startups, but after joining my PMI (Project Management Institute) charter, I have begun doing advisory in project, program and portfolio management. I had multiple mentees in this area too who has seen a successful career in the industry.

What's been your favourite mentorship success story so far?

My biggest success story is a startup that I mentored from my home city in Argentina. I worked with them for about 2 years coaching the CEO, and mentoring their L1 managers. They were a software company that was struggling to grow.

We did a bit of everything, we implemented an operational process and teach them project management, select a software to use to maintain tracking of all the project, and many other improvements in efficiency, including hiring and board meeting.

I feel proud that during the process I saw the CEO growing as a person and a leader, and the company to move along and grow to a 10x without funding but just a good idea and a lot of work.

What are you getting out of being a mentor?

Learning about people and cultures is my biggest pleasure, seeing others succeed has been a driver in my career and personal life.

Mentoring and coaching help not only support your mentees, but build your own persona, learning about new cultures, new technology or just interacting with people.

During my career, mentoring help me learn to listen and be open. Not taking things as granted, but understanding a person's behavior what been said does not always correlate with what is being shown.

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