INCLUSION @ CLIMATE Jun. 28, 2021

Where They Can Be Themselves: Monica Alandete-Saez

“Inclusion@Climate: Sowing the Seeds of Belonging” is a feature created by The Climate Corporation’s Inclusion & Diversity team to highlight the diverse backgrounds of our employees as well as their achievements, passions, and personalities. We hope you’ll enjoy learning more about their contributions to Climate and to our community, and think you’ll agree that the very best elements of our culture are our Climateers themselves. 

Our fifth conversation is with Monica Alandete-Saez, Open Innovation Scientist in our Operations division.

The Climate Corporation (Climate): What’s your role, and what made you choose to join Climate?

Monica Alandete-Saez: I’m part of this Strategic Innovation and Partnership Team. We engage with external partners and other stakeholders to bring in the data or capabilities or expertise that our people need in Climate to move forward with our pipelines.

I really connect and identify with what we want to do for the world. What I heard of the culture of diversity within the company I felt would be a good fit for me. Climate is a diverse company with welcoming opinions, and empowers women leaders, and so it’s a place where I feel I fit well.

Climate: Why is working within an inclusive environment and towards an even more inclusive atmosphere a value for you? 

Monica: I have experience; I know that having a diverse group of talented people working on problems will definitely bring better outcomes. And that group is going to be fun! I enjoy being in a meeting and seeing diversity: racial, gender, sexual orientation - it just allows you to relax, and really it’s just so much fun to be part of it! 

International business is another consideration - you have your work meetings and dinners, and suddenly you’re asked, “Oh, what is your husband’s name?” And you wonder: do I want to tell them that I’m a lesbian and I have two kids? I want to win the deal that I have almost done. It didn’t take long to realize how uncomfortable and inconvenient it is to have to decide over and over again, who am I [going to be for this interaction]?

Climate: When did you first become aware that diversity was something important to you? 

Monica: I’ve always found other cultures fascinating, but I think the first time I understood the importance of diversity in a person’s life was when my first girlfriend, who I met when I was studying in England and who was African American, told me, “You know, I’m part of three minorities: I’m a woman, I’m Black, and I’m gay.” 

For me, that moment was eye-opening. Having moved to California, I became a gay, female immigrant and so am also part of three minorities. You’re reminded of that every day.

When we started a family, we wanted to live in a community that was diverse and inclusive. My oldest daughter came home from preschool, and in the first week told me about a boy who told her that she couldn’t have two moms, that kids can only have one dad and one mom. 

And then of course I explained to her that that is not true, that he didn’t get the whole thing right, that there is a diversity of families with two dads, two moms, one mom, and on and on! And of course she got it; she’s strong, and she’s opinionated. The kid probably didn’t have bad intentions; it’s likely just what he heard and what he was taught. But it did hurt.

 

Monica with her two daughters, Lucia (10) and Tomi (4), in Bangkok

 

But I realized that she had actually had to do her own coming out, and she had to do so at a very young age. I realized that I want to raise my kids in a community where they can be themselves, where they don’t have to hide, they can express ideas and culture and their roots from the very beginning. 

Climate: The concept of your daughter needing to have a coming out process as a member of a queer family is not one we think about often. 

Monica: Coming out was my choice - I’m gay, I decided to start a family with a woman, and it took time to come out and it’s a process one goes through. But I was an adult! And my daughter was five when she had to actually explain who her family is and why that’s okay.

Climate: Do your kids follow in your footsteps?

Monica: They are opinionated; they like to argue and tell me why they think I’m not right! I tend to be conflict-averse. I grew up in Spain, in a conservative environment where you did things because of tradition, because you were told to do so - that’s the way it is, and you either take it or you - well, really you just take it! 

Something I have learned from my kids about being argumentative is that you need to work together toward mutual understanding. It’s the same from strategic partnerships to parenting; don’t compromise who you are and what you need, but if you don’t explain why, they won’t come along with you!


About the Author

Monica Alandete-Saez, PhD. was born in Valencia, Spain. Her education in Biochemistry, Plant Biotechnology, and Plant Molecular Biology has spanned Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 2009, she became a Patent Agent for the US Patent and Trademark Office and worked for a decade in technology transfer, innovation, and intellectual property management. In 2019, she joined Climate as part of the Strategic Innovation & Partnership team, where she cultivates external partnerships to accelerate and enable R&D capabilities. Monica lives in Davis, California, with her two daughters, Lucia and Tomi, and is married to a woman of Israeli nationality.

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