Paulina Bustos Arellano
Creating technology to strengthen citizens
LOVING TECHNOLOGY'S PLACE IN THE WORLD. For Paulina Bustos Arellano, working to strengthen Mexico and its citizens through technology is just one part of why she co-founded Cívica Digital, a company that works with national government agencies and NGO's alike to help them achieve mutual goals using technology.
Always a lover of math, computers and tech from a young age, when Paulina graduated college, she wanted high-level, diverse exposure to technology and its role in the community, so she moved to
Seattle to work for Microsoft. “I lived in the city for four years and I loved it, but I’d always known I’d go back to Mexico. That was always the plan, to return for my fellow citizens with more knowledge and broader experiences.”
“A lot of the technology providers in Mexico are big companies that do not understand the local governments and in return, local governments don’t often understand technology. So it’s like a bad cycle of confusion. It was then that we decided to start a company that would help connect those working in national government agencies with other organizations and technologies to finally solve some systemic problems.”
Paulina likes to explain that often Mexico is wildly misunderstood. “We have big cities, small cities, big companies, small companies, technology, money, commerce, but Mexico is also a very conservative country not just in areas of governmental technology, but also within how citizens are exposed to it."
REPRESENTING HERSELF EVEN IN THE QUIETEST OF WAYS. When asked about her experience as a lesbian leader, Paulina highlights the conservative nature of Mexico again from a different angle. “Times are changing, but it was hard to come out, in public and to my family. As a professional. There aren’t a lot of LGBTQ people who are out in Mexico like there is in the states. Again, that’s changing, but these kinds of conversations are still very new, still very delicate sometimes.”
But even if it’s not openly spoken at every meeting, Paulina knows that her personal experience makes her stronger in the boardrooms and behind the scenes. “Just being a technology entrepreneur, a woman in tech, a woman co-founder can be complicated all on it’s own.”
Paulina once experienced a photoshoot for a business magazine in Mexico where the photographer was asking Paulina and her male co-founder to pose more like a family portrait than equals or peers. “We were there. All these other photos were two men high-fiving or standing shoulder to shoulder, and he wanted us instead to be in familiar poses with my hand on his shoulder or slightly above and behind him. And I just said no. I didn’t care who could see the difference, I could see the difference. I could see the bias. And I refused to let others see it too.” She laughs.
“Mexico is capable of great things. Just like it’s people. Just like anyone who wants to bring forward great ideas. They just need to be reminded every now and again.”