When Lorena Soriano asks you how you want to change the world, it’s not a rhetorical question.
“I feel like we all can really change the world, as long as we’re following our passions,” she said. “Changing the world means that you are living to your values, and whatever matters to you is ultimately going to change the world for the better.”
Lorena is a self-described STEMpreneur, a trained biochemist, and a social media powerhouse. On Instagram, she’s @girlchangetheworld, known for her vision of a world where more women and girls have opportunities to excel in science, technology, engineering and math.
Once hesitant to start her own business, Lorena is now also a proud graduate of the Certificate in Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership — and a courageous CEO.
“My biggest lesson learned this year is that I can succeed by myself,” Lorena said. “I don’t have to do this by myself. But I can. And I’m forever grateful for this program for that.”
Leaving Las Vegas
Lorena began her career in Las Vegas, paying her own way through business school while working full-time in banking and corporate sales. She earned accolades and promotions at Fortune 500 firms.
But after eight years, Lorena felt a pull to pivot toward her lifelong interest in science. So she returned to school, earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry.
When the time came to put her new degree to work, Lorena realized her true calling was to combine her passions for STEM and business.
In 2018, Lorena moved to Seattle. She packed a desire to fight the Seattle Freeze through her signature enthusiasm and active networking, and an early stage plan to build a company alongside a business partner.
But, Lorena admits, she was hit by imposter syndrome. Despite her award-winning corporate experience, she felt unsure she was ready to start her first business. So the timing was perfect when she learned about the Certificate in Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, offered by UW Professional & Continuing Education.
“I don’t come from a big, heavy business background,” Lorena said. “I wanted to learn from somebody who did.”
Finding Her Entrepreneurial Path
Lorena paused her business plan and enrolled in the Certificate in Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership to invest in her own entrepreneurial skillset.
She was eager to study with certificate instructor Christy M. Johnson and the full team of instructors and mentors. At the same time, she said she was initially intimidated by the magnitude of expertise among her fellow students — lawyers, accountants, doctors, engineers, and computer scientists among them.
But she knew the UW program was designed for women from any background, so Lorena seized the opportunity to learn all she could, and graduated with powerful connections to other changemaking professionals.
“Some of us were already working on our business; others of us were looking for the courage,” she said. “We left with a community and the knowledge that there is no one, single entrepreneurial path; there’s many, many of them.”
A Founder’s Life
The certificate paved Lorena’s path to her current roles in the business and nonprofit worlds.
As founder of Isoline Consulting, Lorena offers business development and strategy to mid-market science and tech organizations. She sets her agency apart by working only with clients that actively share her values, including a commitment to equal pay and advancement for women.
Lorena is also the co-founder and co-CEO of Global Girls Give, a nonprofit organization that helps girls and women make connections through meetups, education and mentorship.
Global Girls Give began after Lorena used her social media savvy to create a network of more than 300 volunteers. Today, as co-CEO, she uses her UW experience to guide the business behind the nonprofit’s operations.
She praises an ‘a-ha’ learning from the certificate — a business-model canvas — as invaluable for both her for-profit and nonprofit ventures.
“I truly saw how my business was connected, where were the gaps, how was I going to be able to flow and succeed,” she said.
Watch What’s Next
Lorena has more STEM-related ventures set to go live in 2020. Powered by her new entrepreneurial knowledge, she’s launching a talent platform to inspire youth to seek science and tech careers.
“I’m building a company to bring a ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’ to every single science and tech company,” she said.
At the same time, she’s developing a community to showcase and support women of color in STEM careers, where Lorena says they are vastly underrepresented.
“We’re going to be voicing the stories of women who could be considered hidden figures,” Lorena said. “This will open up doors for other little girls to have that representation.”
Lorena says she once figured that leading a business or a nonprofit would be her post-retirement project after 50 years of working in corporate America.
She credits the Certificate in Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership for giving her the confidence and know-how to do both — right now.
“Now I know that I don’t have to wait,” Lorena said. “This class gave me the courage.”