As one of California’s top tech lobbyists, Cynthia Guerrero has been a driving force for nearly two decades in bridging the gap between public policy and tech companies to make an impact in her community.
She’s one of few Latina women to mount a successful career in tech lobbying, an industry often dominated by men and one that lacks ethnic diversity. She broke barriers by representing some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful tech companies, and by becoming Facebook’s first external government affairs representative in Sacramento.
With a degree in political science, Guerrero planned to become a lawyer, but life had another plan. As a student at Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles, she took a job at a boutique securities firm in Beverly Hills. In the 1990’s, she worked in a variety of investment banking institutions, including TD Waterhouse, Merrill Lynch and Barclays Global Investors and Credit Suisse First Boston Technology Group.
That’s when she was introduced to working with the tech industry. Guerrero saw first-hand how public policy can impact the technology sector and its ever-changing role in society.
“I was inspired to represent tech as an advocate in politics,” said Guerrero. “Coming from the industry, I felt like I could bring a real world perspective rather than just a political one.”
Guerrero went back to school and earned a master’s degree from Pepperdine University. In 2007, she became the California Director of TechNet, a tech trade association advocating for state and federal policies to drive growth in the “innovation economy.”
Not long after, Guerrero founded CG Consulting Group, Inc., allowing her more creativity and the ability to form corporate strategy. She landed tech giants such as Oracle and Facebook as clients.
Guerrero became Facebook’s first government affairs representative in Sacramento.
“Cynthia is a creative strategist who navigates complexity extraordinarily well and has a constant focus on her clients’ best interests,” said Chris Kelly, an entrepreneur and Facebook’s first general counsel.
Guerrero describes her work not as lobbying but as advocacy. As an advocate for the tech industry, it is her duty to communicate between tech companies and local, state and federal elected officials. Tech companies will often hire advocates like Guerrero to advise them on public policy to establish corporate strategy.
“It’s not just about lobbying,” Guerrero said. “It’s about creating an impact that is good for everyone involved.”
Recently, Guerrero said she’s noticed that tech companies are much more preemptive in acknowledging their impact on the public. Often times, companies will reach out to Guerrero first with a specific issue to find a solution beneficial both to the company and the public at large.
This growing awareness has opened a cooperative dialogue between tech and the public sector, she said.
“Cynthia has the unique ability of connecting tech and policy and was one of the first ones to truly know how do this responsibly in Silicon Valley,” said Gary Kremen, founder of Match.com. “Her background in tech banking has made her uniquely positioned to understand the bottom line for these tech companies unlike other lobbyists.”
Guerrero currently represents notable companies like Postmates, Skip, Kabbage and Upwork. Guerrero seeks out tech giants that stand out from the pack in Silicon Valley — those who have a broader vision to not just manage regulatory risk, but positively impact their communities.
“Cynthia brings her life story with her to her work,” said Jim Cunneen, one of the founding partners of California Strategies, LLC’s Silicon Valley office. “She had to work really hard to achieve what she has in life — with family in Nicaragua and growing up in San Francisco. I admire her for that.”
Guerrero acknowledges that tech banking and lobbying is a field where Latina women are uncommonly represented, but she never viewed it as a disadvantage. Instead, she saw the lack of diversity as a challenge.
“I never thought of it as a barrier to entry,” Guerrero said, “but something that was achievable.”
Contact San José Spotlight intern Yale Wyatt at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @yalewhat on Twitter.