Maria Garaña on combining tech and business on an international scale


When Maria Garaña finished her studies in econ and law, she knew one thing about her future career—it most certainly wouldn’t be law. At that moment, the .com boom was gaining speed and heating up. So she followed her instincts, joined a consulting firm, and began learning the world of tech from the inside out. Since then, she’s spent time at some of the most world’s largest and most influential tech companies, including Microsoft, Google, and now, Adobe.

Garaña joined Adobe just about a year ago as vice president of Adobe EMEA professional services. When a recruiter first reached out, she already had friends who were happy at the company and spoke highly of their experiences. She thought Adobe´s product portfolio and value proposition was a winner in the fastest growing segment of digitalization, so she decided to make the move.

Of course, starting a new job during a pandemic makes for an unusual transition. “With every job you learn some new things and unlearn some other things. In this case, I had to unlearn some of the ways I build connections. I’m used to face-to-face meetings and getting to know people at the coffee machine. But joining Adobe during COVID made me build those connections through a screen. Finding other ways to get to know people and, at the same time, avoiding long meetings as a substitute for travel was key. Intentional time management has been an obsession in my first year,” says Garaña.

Working with clients across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa

Garaña’s team includes over 300 people across EMEA. “One of the things I like most about my job is working in a super-diverse environment—I don’t know if I could go back to working in just one country,” she says. While Garaña sees similar needs among clients across the region, each one offers its own unique puzzle. “Customers face similar challenges and opportunities, and our advantage is to leverage the regional resources and best practices to make sure we put the right EMEA team at the right time to the right customer. It’s all about sharing information and connecting the dots.”

And she’s backed up by a team that makes all the difference. “One of the things I like best about my job is that my team has a command of what they sell. They’re really knowledgeable about Adobe’s technology and our customers’ business needs,” she explains. “Businesspeople haven’t always been interested in understanding technology, but now every CXO understands that making IT decisions means making business decisions.”

Secrets to a fulfilling career path

When colleagues ask Garaña for advice about charting their own career paths, she recommends reflection and self-awareness. “You have to do things that are consistent with who you are because your job isn’t separate. It’s a way of living that affects you and your family. It’s not about work-life balance, it’s about work-life integration.” She also counsels against putting too much focus on a 5-year plan. “I have removed in my interviews questions about where you see yourself in 3-5 years, because, who knows? It can make you miss what’s right here, right now.”

For young grads starting out their careers, Garaña recommends not to worry too much if they don’t know exactly what they want. “If you know what you don’t want, you have a lot gained!” She recommends starting to put tools in your backpack—as many and as diverse as possible. “Try to know big companies, small companies. And above all, learn a lot, observe, and absorb as much as you can”.

And for people already inside Adobe, she counsels, “Push your managers for good and insightful feedback and career conversations. After all, your manager and you have the same definition of success. I am a firm believer on communication. The channel is always full and depends on you to fill it proactively.”