Eliana Murillo talks building communities with theSkimm | theSkimm
Eliana Murillo Hero image

One-on-One with theSkimm is a chance to introduce some of the incredible women in our community making an impact in the world. We'll be showcasing Skimm'rs from a variety of careers, religions, cultures, and political beliefs. This month for Hispanic Heritage Month, we're highlighting women making a difference in the Hispanic-Latino community and beyond. 

What’s your story, Skimm’d…

Eliana Murillo: recipe

That’s the recipe of my life and all the different phases I’ve experienced. Grew up going to public school taking honors classes in Oxnard, CA, always doing my homework on the side at a ton of family parties with my big Mexican family. Got into Harvard and had to figure out how to swim, then interned at Target and Google. Started my side hustles, sold chocolate-dipped strawberries out of my dorm, co-founded my family’s organic tequila company, and joined Google full time. Piloted projects that turned into full time roles and then founded the multicultural marketing team. Focused on supporting diverse entrepreneurs and developing culturally-relevant marketing and research. Took time to travel the world and take cooking classes in as many countries as possible to find “balance” because that’s my self-care. Founded Latinas Who Brunch to create a community of badass women around the country. Mix, shake to the beat of reggaetón and rim with Tajín.

A lesson you’ve learned from a bad boss…

Be one. Be the baddest one. Really though... always bring your boss along for the ride. I once had a boss who had no clue what I was doing because he hadn’t taken the time to live a day (or a few hours) in my shoes, to truly understand everything I was working on and how I executed across projects with different stakeholders in different industries. I took him on the road for one of my work trips and all of a sudden, everything changed. “I think I only knew about 20% of what you actually do.” The awareness of the other +80% was pretty game changing. He wasn’t a bad boss, but he didn’t know what he didn’t know. So he learned.

What keeps you up at night…

The social issues I wish I could do more to support, but have to try to shut off the thoughts and remind myself to do more in the morning because tomorrow is a new day. We can always do more mañana.

Who do you look up to in your industry…

  • Antonio Lucio, the CMO of Facebook/Instagram, a mentor of mine who was previously the CMO at HP. Seeing Antonio as a Latino leader and advocate for diversity in the business is so inspiring. He successfully pushed all of HP’s agencies to increase the representation of diversity within their teams and has carried that mission to his work at Facebook and beyond. He’s a strategic leader with true integrity and humility.
  • Andy Berndt, an advisor to my projects and the rockstar leader of Creative Lab within marketing at Google. When we first met, he asked me what I do and then as he walked away, he said, “Don’t be subtle about this work.” I wrote that onto a dog tag and wear it on a chain when I need to feel bold.
  • Nina Vaca, one of the most incredible entrepreneurs in the country! She started her company Pinnacle on her living room floor and is now one of the most successful self-made entrepreneurs who advocates for women and minorities in everything she does. She inspires so many and I love learning from her work as a Latina leader.


Something you could be better at (at work or in life)... 

Executing operational things. I’m all for developing the strategies to design the operations, but the actual execution isn’t my thing. Tedious logistical details and maintenance are the bane of my existence. It’s important, but getting myself to do it is rough. People who like that stuff - I love you. SO much. Your contributions are critical! People like me would never make it without you.

Your superpower in one word…

Igniting. I light things up and energize them! I connect people and shine a light on what makes them amazing and why they should connect, then get to see the sparks fly. I light up areas where I see potential or problems and make sure people are aware of a need for solutions. I ignite the embers that energize teams and communities to collaborate and create together. I love igniting new ideas and projects to make things happen! 

What does success mean to you…

Making an impact while bringing people with me, a win for the community. Creating access and opportunities for others - that’s when it feels real.


What were you like as a kid…

A nerdy unibrowed kid with glasses, a copy of “Harry Potter,” some emergency snacks and craft supplies in my lunchbox for when I got bored/hangry, rocking tie-dye shirts and Roxy tees from Ross with a tight bun because I never ever wore my hair curly. Ever. I was pretty shy until one day, I let my mane go wild and started caring less about looking like everyone else. The pivot was huge, and I haven’t been the same since.

Someone you wish got more mainstream recognition…

Dolores Huerta. She was Cesar Chavez’s real partner in change and is still alive, but not enough people know her story or understand her incredible, historic impact. She's a true living legend and is still one of the boldest, most committed leaders I’ve ever met.

At a dinner party, are you instigating a heated discussion or running for the wine…

It would definitely be Tequila Alquimia and not wine… but I’m much more likely to get the people going on a heated discussion. Likely facilitated by tequila :)



What is the biggest misconception about you…

That my life is always fun and some kind of glamorous, almost untethered from reality. The reality is that social media really only highlights the highest lights, and the low lights don't usually make it onto the gram. I try to sprinkle them in because authenticity matters, but here it is - I believe in work hard, play hard. The hard work just doesn't always get documented or ranted about publicly. That’s what group chats and therapy/coaches are for. My family also keeps me grounded plenty! Love them for it.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you…

A time to honor my community, our culture and our ancestors/leaders who have come before us. It is an opportunity to educate people about the vast diversity within the Latino community and the contributions our people make to this country every day. It is also a good time to remind folks that we are proud of our culture more than just one month of the year, but enjoy our empanadas.



What issue is most important to you in the 2020 election…

Equal rights for all - minorities, women, immigrants, everyone. I agree with MLK Jr. and (paraphrasing) truly believe that injustice toward anyone is injustice toward everyone. Until we have compassionate, considerate leaders that are aware of the injustices that hold our country back, we will continue to fail a portion of the population that is no less important than any other. I hope to vote for leaders who believe in justice for all, and I hope everyone actually goes out to vote!

Advice you would give to someone looking to get into your field…

Demonstrate your leadership experience and measure everything (cover your resume with data points). In tech and in starting a business, all entrepreneurial experiences help prepare you for these industries. You have to think and do on your feet constantly, building the plane as you fly it. Once you’re in, find ways to align your passion or purpose with the skillset you are developing and the resources around you. That’s how you can maximize your impact from the inside.

If you don't feel passionate about your job, find a way to make it more fulfilling by aligning it with the kind of impact you want to see. Connect with other people who share a similar mindset and build together, even if it's within your company. That’s how I founded the multicultural marketing team and HOLA, the Latino employee resource group at Google, by bringing people together around a common mission and vision. It all started outside of our day jobs, but it energized and motivated us. You can get creative and do work that matters to you on a personal level so you don’t burn out or feel undervalued and underutilized. 


What do you want your legacy to be…

I hope to create strong communities that outlast me and provide resources, support and opportunities for the people who come after me. It inspires me deeply to see communities and efforts I’ve created become a platform to help unlock the potential in others, to see them be great on their own accord and continue paying it forward. I didn’t have a seat at the table when I started out, so I built a chair and then a whole table for others to have a seat too. It’s been my life’s work, and I’ll continue building for as long as I live. I hope many meals that feed the soul are shared at that table for generations to come, with good food, good conversation, and good affirmations for people to know that they belong.


PS: Have someone in mind you think we should feature? Let us know here.

PPS: GV (formerly Google Ventures) is a minority investor in theSkimm.
Note: This interview has been edited for length. All opinions expressed by the interviewee are their own.