Microsoft Employee Wins National Diversity Award for Her Work as Role Model in Hispanic Community

REDMOND, Wash., October 9, 1998 — Diversity at Microsoft is often a circular proposal. The company seeks to hire a multicultural work force of exemplary employees, and through hard work and personal commitment they, in turn, set the stage for others to one day succeed and flourish at Microsoft.

Such is the case with Marissa Martinez, who is being honored this week with a diversity award at the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC). The annual career conference, hosted by Rice University in Houston, honors the best and brightest Hispanic engineers and scientists in the United States.

Martinez was chosen because of her impressive record as a role model who encourages the pursuit of science and engineering careers within the Hispanic community. Currently the group manager of the Interactive Media Group’s (IMG) Internet Advertising Technology team, she has long incorporated diversity activities into her eight-year career at Microsoft.

Among other accomplishments, Martinez established a relationship between Microsoft Community Affairs and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), which resulted in a $1.1 million grant to HACU and four Hispanic-serving member institutions.

Martinez also represented Microsoft in helping her alma mater, MIT, retain and graduate minority students, and for three years she taught a weeklong class about the software-development process.

In a HENAAC award nomination letter, Pete Higgins, IMG group vice president, said: “Ms. Martinez leads by example. With her passion for technology and commitment to the Hispanic community, she is proof that great role models exist.”

For her part, Martinez views her diversity work as an adjunct to her job. “From Microsoft’s perspective, the company is absolutely looking for people who want to make an impact. I just extended that past my written job description of delivering great software. Other people can, too. You don’t have to be the CEO to make really big changes happen. You just have to solve the right problem.”

Martinez is one of 17 HENAAC award winners in 12 categories who will receive their prizes in a televised ceremony to be held Oct. 10 in Houston. “The award is great, and I’m very appreciative that the selection committee chose to recognize my accomplishments; I hope it inspires current software talent to get more involved,” Martinez said.

“Every day we come to work, we have the opportunity to redefine the software industry. For me, that includes influencing who will be the future players. That’s a tremendous opportunity,” she added.

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