As a first-generation college student at Cornell and a former member of the national board of La Unidad Latina after graduation, Anthony Garcia embraces his culture and through his achievements and willingness to help, pays it forward by inspiring others to promote their culture and find their true career path.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are those of the author or interviewee and do not explicitly represent the position or policy of any company mentioned.
This Q & A Series guest is Anthony Garcia, an experience design senior professional with years of experience defining what people value that allows companies to make smarter decisions with their systems, products and services. In this series post, Anthony and I discussed work-life balance during the stay-at-home directives, his position at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Customer Experience Mapping, divergent client decisions, selecting a major and career track, the impact of Latinx culture on his career, cultural sensitivity and his reading recommendations.
About Anthony Garcia
Anthony Garcia is a senior manager in Digital Services with the Experience Center team at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a network of member firms across the globe also known as PwC. Working primarily with Fortune 1000 brands across industries, Anthony tackles complex problems that these brands face from a design and user point of view.
Anthony on Maintaining a Work-Life Balance
The stay-at-home orders established to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have produced some unique challenges to work life. The typical 9 to 5 is now anything but typical. So, I asked Anthony about his work-life balance during the directives:
"Working from home is not necessarily a new thing [for me] but for my own rules and routine to keep a work-life balance, I don't take my laptop everywhere as much as I can to keep those boundaries."
He goes on to explain that working from home means that he designates areas of his home exclusively to spend time with his family. He says that this strategy is part of a larger objective to:
"Try to be present in whatever context you are. Trying to mix environments, doesn't work. You will be taking away from both."
Through mindfulness of your space and time, he says, you can dedicate time and do your best for your family and your job.
Anthony on the Job at PwC
Having little knowledge about experience design, I asked Anthony about his role at PwC and the Experience Center Team:
"What's unique and what I enjoy about my role is that we take a very holistic approach. We look at it through a business lens, we look at it through a technology lens but most importantly, who is actually going to be a part of this experience?"
To clarify further, Anthony says that his focus goes beyond the companies that seek the PwC Experience Center services:
"First, we want to understand from a user's point of view is what they value as a person, what is it that they are trying to do and how the company can enable that to happen. ...The right companies focus on making their users awesome not making themselves or their products awesome."
He goes on to explain that a manager is one of the first lines of leadership in the firm where who source and identify opportunities and assure that their clients' problems are solved and vision of success is executed.
Anthony on Customer Experience Mapping
Having created the first US Army social media policy, he explains how he evolved in his career from social media business strategy to experience design by asking: how do we transform businesses in an age of social media and new technologies in customer engagement?
Customer Experience Mapping, as explained by Anthony, is a useful strategic mapping of complex concepts and processes. He goes on to say that there are a number of different ways of mapping but one is called Lifecycle Mapping.
Working in utilities, he offers an example of a customer paying a bill:
"Sometimes people think it is a point A to Point B [process] but it's a lot more complex than that. You have what the customers see, you have what the customer service representatives also see, there's a billing team, processing, rebate team...But you can't really embrace how complex it is or see if there are any communication gaps or bottlenecks for communication unless you lay it out."
So, the process requires the tracking of different points along the process to understand where people are interacting, where they are not interacting, and where information is being sent.
"And in the end, you have this beautiful map that can visually communicate a lot of things to a lot of different audiences."
Those audiences include people that approach the process from a business perspective, a technology perspective, and a psychological perspective reflective of both customers and employees. At the Experience Center, Anthony says, a translator is required between those audiences and that mapping serves as that translation tool.
The core of his responsibilities: collaborate to create a strategy and design ways to "take out the friction."
Anthony on Divergent Client Decisions
I asked Anthony how he approaches a situation where he gives recommendations based on the full problem but the client chooses to focus on one aspect or go in a different direction entirely. His response:
"Ultimately, they are the client so they decide which way to go and that is there call. But as a good consultant, be clear in what you are suggesting in terms of options or the path forward. ...You are also thinking of what they are not thinking of."
He goest on to say that if there is a problem that is more pertinent or finds something that is the real cause of the problem, it is important to collect evidence that details all the facts and data of the problem and alternate solutions so the client has the flexibility to decide.
However, if one plan of action solves the client's problem more holistically and efficiently than another, Anthony says:
"Think ahead. Think about 'what's gonna be next after that?' Say they take plan A, you want them to do plan B but, they say 'we're gonna stick to plan A.' What is the next milestone, that decision point? ...It is having that conversation and foresight about what the near future can bring based on the data and evidence that is available."
Anthony on Selecting a Major and Career Track
Anthony begins by sharing his experience as a biology major at Cornell during his first semester. He notes that after his poor performance that first semester, he realized that biology was not for him despite thinking that it would be a good career path.
"So, that's when I said, 'Ok, this is not for me. Let me find something that I actually like to do." I had the opportunity to switch majors to communications but it was the second semester and I had to do a lot of catch up."
But it was worth it. His focus was on computer interactions and included courses on marketing and public relations. But his interest was just developing and his true career path became apparent to him one day:
"It was very serendipitous. I was actually late for a class and I was cutting across an open gym. They were holding a grad school fair that day. And I saw this booth. I had the greatest conversation with the representative of this program."
The program was the Communication, Culture, and Technology Master of Arts at Georgetown University where he explored the relationship between changing technology and cultures, including research, government, media, business, and communication. Anthony went on to say that selecting a major and planning a career path required him to:
"Focus on what's inside me, interests me and finding out what I wanted to explore further."
Anthony on the Impact of Latinx Culture on his Career
During his time at Cornell, Anthony joined La Unidad Latina, the alpha chapter of the fraternity dedicated to leadership and meeting the needs of the Latino community through academic achievement, cultural awareness, community service and promotion of the Latino culture and people.
He explains that he joined La Unidad Latina because of their visible and significant activism and promotion of Latinx cultures.
"I am a freshman on campus in the year 2000 and I find out that only seven years ago, the [Latinx] community had to take over an administrative building to get student rights recognized."
He is referring to the 1993 Day Hall Takeover at Cornell. The student occupation was motivated by the vandalism of Chicano artist Daniel J. Martinez’s artwork, which was on display on the Arts Quad. Martinez's work, which challenged the privilege found at places such as Cornell, was vandalized with a string of ethnic slurs.
"Thinking as a freshman, I thought 'well, the Latino Living Center has been here for a while.' And that everybody has equal rights. ...So that was a revelation. And my participation with the fraternity continued after I graduated. I served on the national council as director of public relations."
During his time on the national council, he details his experiences meeting Latinx people with great achievements and developing a skill set that he has taken with him into his career.
"It was a worthwhile time...One of the big things that I liked and continue to like about our fraternity is that you can never be too bold. You can always try to get the best out of your own people to solve the biggest problems. At the end of the day you're going to make an impact and you might inspire others to rally and help you get to where you need to be."
Anthony on Cultural Sensitivity
Ethnographic discovery at his job requires mindfulness in crafting questions and how data is analyzed to assure that understanding is fully achieved.
"I think being humble and mindful in the aspect that you are not just going to all of a sudden know somebody from a number. Nobody is a data point."
He says that one of the biggest things he has learned through his own experiences is that there needs to be sensitivity and a willingness to understand and approach people uniquely to get a sense of where they are and where they have been. Assumptions should never be made.
Anthony's Reading List
The Signals are Talking by Amy Webb
The Power of Moments by Chip Heath & Dan Heath.
On Anthony's Nightstand
Loonshots by Safi Bahcall