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Natalia Oropeza: My Life on Purpose
My Life on Purpose

Natalia Oropeza: My Life on Purpose

We talk to Natalia Oropeza, Chief Cybersecurity Officer and Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Siemens about her life on purpose.
Natalia Oropeza

Natalia Oropeza is the Chief Cybersecurity Officer and Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Siemens. She has over 30 years of experience in Information Technology, with international experience in Mexico, USA and Germany. Before joining Siemens in 2018, she was Chief Information Security Officer and head of the largest IT transformation program at Volkswagen Group. She’s also a founding member of “Women4Cyber” – a European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO) initiative. 

What does purpose mean to you?

When I was young, someone once asked me what I wanted people to say at my funeral. At the time, I hadn’t thought about it. But soon I realised that the reason I hadn’t thought about it was because it asked what the goal of my life was. 

Many years later, I was at my father’s funeral. He was a gynecologist, and many people said to me: “your father saved my life” or “because of your father I could raise a family.” 

I think that was the moment of truth for me that I understood what purpose is. Purpose is what drives you in life. For me, that’s contributing to society.

Now when young people ask me: “how do I become successful?” or “how do I deal with the many challenges in my life?” I ask them the same question: what do you want people to say about you at your funeral? Once you know this, everything else gets resolved.

What cause are you really passionate about? 

One cause I’m really passionate about is education. I am Mexican and I love my home country. But nevertheless, it has a lot of problems, including corruption and violence. I think that the root cause of many of those problems is education.

I had the great fortune of having access to education. My parents were poor and had to work hard so that I could be educated, but it made me a different person, and ultimately led me to contribute to society.

Many kids in Mexico and around the world have to walk for kilometers to go to school, and many aren’t able to attend at all. If we can deliver digital education to kids who can’t leave their homes, we can even improve the quality of education they get.

What is your idea of professional fulfilment? 

To become a respected professional. I don’t think about making lots of money or having a specific position in the company, but really being seen as someone that is instrumental in achieving Siemens’ goals.

In addition, I have the honour of being the chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. This allows me to contribute to society and make sure the opportunities I got get extended to other people as well.

I’ve worked in technology my whole life because I believe that it’s the only way that we’re able to solve the problems we face today, from climate change to education.

What’s your hope for the future of business? 

I’ve worked in technology my whole life because I believe that it’s the only way that we’re able to solve the problems we face today, from climate change to education. 

If Siemens succeeds in business, this means we have contributed to solving these problems, by innovating and digitalising society. I am happy to say that we are moving in that direction.

What’s the hardest thing about trying to be purpose-driven? 

I think the hardest thing about being purpose-driven is confronting yourself. You need to realise, like Gandhi says, that the only thing that you can change is yourself. 

At times it might feel like you don’t have the resources to deal with the challenges you face, but most of the time, the answer is in yourself. That’s been the case in many of the challenges I’ve faced personally. I’ve found that I am the one that needs to change, and not the rest of the world. 

As soon as you are able to realise that, you are better equipped to face your challenges.

What leader inspires you? 

Many leaders inspire me. Several good bosses have taught me to care for employees, not just as employees but as the people they are. 

I also look at Elon Musk. I remember he gave a conference about going to Mars. Someone said: “the temperatures on Mars can kill us, did you think about that?” He responded: “I haven’t thought about the temperature. First I have to think about how to get there.” 

It taught me that even visionaries do one step and then another.

I think the hardest thing about being purpose-driven is confronting yourself. You need to realise, like Gandhi says, that the only thing that you can change is yourself.

When have you felt like giving up? 

I am responsible for cybersecurity at Siemens. This means making sure that we don’t get any damage because of cybercrime. Protecting such a big company – we have over 300,000 employees and many customers and businesses – is not an easy thing to do. You have to manage a lot of incremental problems because the more we are digitalised, the more cyberattacks we have. 

You have to set priorities. You have to trust your team. You have to guide them, motivate them, and inspire them.

What are the qualities you most like in a person? 

Resilience. This is fundamental in my team. Resilience means that you can recover, and that you never lose, because you either win or you learn. 

There are times at Siemens that we have to lose a fight against the hackers. But we have to recover from that. We have to learn our lessons, stand up and keep fighting.

What keeps you motivated on tough days? 

I love my job. I love technology, and I love to speak to my team about this.

My family also inspire me. I have two daughters – they inspire me every day. I wake up every morning and think: “you have to be an example for them on how to face the problems we have in life and stay happy and thankful.”

What do you want to be remembered for? 

I want to be instrumental in making Siemens a secure digital provider. I want to help people at Siemens develop a sense of belonging and reach their full potential. And I want to be remembered as a happy Mexican mother helping her family in Germany.