Magazine article Working Mother

How She Does It

Magazine article Working Mother

How She Does It

Article excerpt

Aurora Archer knows she's lucky to have made it out of the barrios of south San Antonio and into the boardroom. She grew up amidst gangs and crushing poverty. And the job descriptions of some former high school classmates include prostitute and drug dealer.

Given the hand Aurora was dealt, it seemed unlikely that a career as a corporate executive was ever in the cards. "My way out was an education," says the self-assured mother of two. "That was cemented in my head by my parents."

Today Aurora is a rising star in the tech industry, working as director of global marketing communications for Hewlett-Packard in Houston. And she got there by working hard and seizing opportunities. For instance, prior to her employment at HP, she used her fluency in Spanish to work with a group launching subsidiaries in several Spanish-speaking countries. "I got to see the establishment of an operation from the ground up,"'says Aurora, who was recently named one of Houston's top women in technology by the Association for Women in Computing.

Now, this bilingual tech star oversees communications for three different organizations that market HP's products. Improving HP's efforts to reach out to its customers requires Aurora to communicate with colleagues from Latin America to Europe to Asia practically around the clock. Though the job is challenging, "it can't compare to the hardships my parents went through," she says.

Her African-American father and Mexican immigrant mother toiled for years as domestic help, enduring abusive employers and working for menial wages. When Aurora and her older sister, Violeta Babic-Archer, reached their teen years, their parents decided to become live-in help, moving the family above the garage of the home where they worked in a tony San Antonio neighborhood so the girls could get a better high school education.

"My parents set the bar really high for us," says Aurora, who went on to graduate with a bachelor's degree in business from Syracuse University. "My mother used to say, 'Dime con quien andasy te diréquien eres': Tell me who you're hanging out with and I'll tell you who you are," she recalls.

Because her responsibilities are at a worldwide level, Aurora's hours follow the sun wherever it rises. She starts her day as early as 4:00 a.m., when she's heading to the gym and trying to get some "me time." Before most people have had their first morning cup of coffee, she is already dressed, showered and sporting a wireless telephone headset as she takes conference calls from colleagues around the globe to discuss such things as project status and marketing requirements. Her laptop stays within reach as she moves from room to room, preparing her family for their day before she heads to the office.

"Breakfast is the one meal when everyone is at the table," Aurora says. "That's our time to talk about our day and what's going on with us and the kids-a time that makes all the other craziness worthwhile." Her children, Mila, 4, and Liam, 2, are particularly protective of that time with Mom and Dad, especially when Aurora is running late and trying to send off one last email'from her laptop. "Liam has become quite good at saying, 'No lap. No lap,' " she says.

Auroras mixed-raced heritage shines through at work and at home. She speaks to her children in Spanish and jokes that on Thanksgiving her home is like the United Nations. She met her husband of eight years, Colin Lacey-a blue-eyed, fair-skinned Irishman-while on assignment for a previous employer in Latin America. …

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