Spotlight: Melva Torres
Melva Torres, a marketing operations specialist at Merck, is the fourth feature of our new Spotlight section.
For the fourth edition of the Spotlight series, AL DÍA conducted a Q&A with Melva Torres, a Marketing Operations Specialist at Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
Check out the Q&A here:
My name is Melva Torres, but everyone calls me Mel!
I graduated from Drexel University with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, a minor in entrepreneurship and three majors in marketing, technology & innovation, and management.
My siblings and I grew up in the eastern region of Ecuador, La Amazonia, with my grandparents until they passed away and then moved to Cuenca with other relatives until we migrated to Bucks County in Pennsylvania.
It was tough. I was a teenager and I had to leave my family and friends behind, but the feeling of reuniting with my parents was comforting. My dad moved to the U.S when I was about 2 years old and my mom moved when I was 5, so I really didn’t know them. I lived with my dad and my stepmother, who was American but didn’t speak Spanish. It was difficult communicating with her since I didn’t speak English -- school was also challenging for that same reason. Kids would bully me because I had an accent and I couldn’t understand what they were saying.
These were just challenges that I had to overcome, but at the end of the day, I knew I was here for a reason and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way.
What attracted me to marketing was all the marketing techniques and strategies I learned. Also the people aspect of marketing and the different projects that I learned about. It’s fascinating to see how I am now putting the theory I learned in school into practice in my current role.
I don’t see a lot of Latinos. I started my career with Merck, which is an amazing biopharmaceutical company, but conservative like most pharma companies. There is a small percentage of Latinos in my company and perhaps it has to do with where we are located, but I know in pharma in general Latinos are not well represented.
I think there are a lot of barriers. The pharmaceutical industry has been very white-male dominated for many years and there hasn’t been a lot of opportunities for other “minorities” to be in C-suite positions. We are now starting to see more opportunities for “minorities”, but it is not enough. For women, I think the problem we have is that we are scared and we undermine our abilities. Being in a male-dominated industry, I used to question myself with things like, “Can I do this?,” I would worry about having an accent, and I would even question my background.
I know there are many people who still have these thoughts, fears, and lack confidence. People have the abilities and credentials to do the job, but they don’t have the confidence to go for it - and that is what we need. There are moments where I have to get myself out of this mentality and I strive to help others do the same because if not, we will be stuck in the same position for years to come.
I made an important decision that I think made a huge difference. Do I follow the wagon or do I want to go in a different direction? I chose to take a different route. I think a lot of Latinos make the mistake of trying to fit in and impersonating someone they’re not and it shouldn’t be that way. You should create your own space, but leaving the door open for others to fit in that space. We shouldn’t be ashamed of having an accent. On the contrary, we should embrace that.
In five years, I see myself as a more accomplished professional, perhaps going back to school, and in a higher leadership position within my company.
I will be 37 in ten years, so I hope I have established a family. I hope to have a second degree with a different concentration and maybe be married (I don’t know about that). I hope by then I will be in a higher leadership position and even a global position since that is something that I have always wanted.