Banner with "Spotlight on Santi Martinez", a picture of Santi in his powerchair above two logos, one for the Field and one for International Day of People with Disability.

Spotlight Series: Santiago Martínez

the Field’s Spotlight Series puts the focus on our community, the stories that make us all unique, and the different experiences we all have when it comes to work. In this time the spotlight is on Santiago Martinez.

Each month, we will highlight a person with disability or an inclusive employer, and talk to them about their experiences in the job market.

To celebrate International Day of People with Disability, we are launching the first in our Spotlight Series, by talking with Santiago Martínez; graphic designer, business owner and the Field’s Senior User Interface Designer. Santi is a person with disability, who has Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy 2A and uses a powerchair. He has been key to designing the way the Field functions, looks and feels, and is an absolute legend of a person (if we do say so ourselves).

We talked to Santi to learn more about him, his experiences in working and employment, as well as some advice he has about working as a person with disability and owning his own business.

the Field:

Hi Santi, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Santi:

My name is Santiago Martínez! I’m 38 years old, living with LGMD2A and I’m originally from Pereira, the capital of the coffee region in Colombia. I’ve been living in Perth since 2012.

I’m a passionate graphic designer, business owner since 2004 and a certified life coach. I currently work as Senior UI designer at the Field, and as a Creative Director in my own accessible marketing agency, where we help brands to be more inclusive.

My disability basically affects my ability to walk, and is mostly related to my mobility, however it has become the engine of my life. I’m positive, energetic and a problem solver by nature. I’m proud of myself, proud of who I am, my disability, and my life story.

I am committed to positively impacting the lives of people with and without disabilities. It’s important that I show people that for me there is no door that a good attitude can’t open, and be an example of the fact that we are only limited by our minds.

the Field:

You mentioned that you’re a creative director. What drew you towards becoming a graphic designer?

Santi:

I’m obsessed with the power of symbols to communicate ideas, emotions, and feelings. The noble art of communicating through colours, shapes and pictograms has marked a breakpoint in human history from the caves to our times. Design is present in almost every single aspect of our lives. It works in silence creating deep connections between the things that we use daily and our brains, feelings and behaviours.

It is exciting for me to think that the ideas that I create can make people take action on different things. The art of making brand positioning something people care about, is so far a daily stimulus for me.

the Field:

Becoming a graphic designer is probably a little bit different these days due to technology and the digital space. What did your career path look like and how did you get to where you are now?

Santi:

I started my career when I was 20, and I created my first marketing agency with a classmate in Colombia. Since then, I’ve had to become a very versatile graphic designer, pushing my knowledge beyond what a traditional graphic designer does.

While on this path, I’ve developed skills in editorial design, packaging, branding, web development, coding, 3D animation, motion graphics, video production, post-production and VFX. I also developed new skills that include UX (user experience), UI (user interface), digital marketing, email marketing, SEO (search engine optimisation), SEM (search engine marketing), CMS (content management systems), CRM (customer relationship management) implementations and other marketing tools.

Today, I run two marketing agencies focused on different areas: production and accessibility. I’m also a full-time employee at the Field as a Senior UI Designer where I work on the user interface design for the platform.

the Field:

Running a business can come with its challenges, let alone two marketing agencies (we don’t know how you have time to do all of this!). What has running your own business taught you?

Santi:

Discipline, perseverance, responsibility and always finding a way to achieve what I want.

When you are a business owner, you always have to find a way to make things happen even if you don’t know how. The real reason I became a very versatile graphic designer was that I had to say yes to different requests that I didn’t have any idea how to achieve, and I had to figure it out quickly.

Also, I learned to find opportunities, network with people and most importantly, never give up. I knew that there were people that depended on me, my talents and my abilities to keep the business growing.

the Field:

Conscious that, depending on how you identify with your disability, it can have an impact on your life and your choices. How do you think your disability has influenced your work?

Santi:

Personally, I believe that my disability has positively impacted my commitment to myself. It makes me do my best every day, and demonstrate to myself that I’m able to create great things. Doing what I do also fights against the common social perceptions that many non-disabled people have about what disabled people can and can’t do.

However, I also believe that having my disability has been a barrier to work at times, especially when first meeting new clients or starting a negotiation. This is mostly due to the social perceptions and unconscious bias that affects people’s ideas of someone with a disability.

the Field:

You have an unique insight in that you’ve been on both sides of the hiring process. What sort of skills do you look for in new employees, or when you’re outsourcing work?

Santi:

It is easy, I simply can’t work with someone that has no passion and love for what they do. So, my rule is simple; if you love what you do, and you have an outstanding attitude about life, the rest of your skills can be developed. As long as you have dedication, and commitment to working hard and being the best version of yourself.

the Field:

You have a great attitude when it comes to life and work. Looking externally, who is someone you look up to in your career?

Santi:

Steve Jobs is my idol in terms of exquisite ideas, creativity, and perseverance. His “connecting the dots” life philosophy has inspired me and helped me understand that everything, even bad things, happen for a reason, and most importantly for a purpose. So, I always try to find the positive in the chaos.

the Field:

As you know, there are a lot of misconceptions about employing people with disability. What is one thing you wish people knew when it came to hiring someone with disability?

Santi:

I wish people would open their minds and see beyond what their assumptions, past and paradigms say. My answer is simple: give us an opportunity to demonstrate our talents. We are people that have to prove ourselves on a daily basis so working hard is part of our DNA.

I can guarantee that hiring someone with a disability will change your perception about life, about what we can do, and it will change many lives for the better, including yours.

the Field:

You’re already achieving great things; where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Santi:

In 10 years I see myself working hard for those who want the opportunity to demonstrate their talents, building a more equal world that is inclusive and full of opportunities for my community. I see myself living my best life no matter what comes. And more importantly, being an example of passion, love and real evidence of the fact that magic happens when we give value to the simple things.

the Field:

Finally, we’re celebrating International Day of People with Disability on 3rd December – what does International Day of People with Disability mean to you?

Santi:

As a proud person living with a disability, the meaning of International Day of People with Disability goes beyond simply an awareness day. For me, International Day of People with Disability is an opportunity to work internally to be in love with who I am, celebrate my life, and understand that I’m an important part of the diversity of the world.

It’s a day to celebrate and be proud of our achievements, and how we have worked through all kinds of challenges to be here right now. To embrace our lives as the best gift we could ever receive, and more importantly, to be proud of the constant daily effort to participate and shine in a world that has excluded us for a long time.

International Day of People with Disability is a day to remember our value as human beings, share our life experiences with others, and create a different perception of who we are, what we love and how we want to be included in everyday life. So the best way to celebrate with us is by just giving us the chance to belong and be part of your life.

To learn more about Santi’s business, you can visit Bracoon’s website.

If you’re ready to take the first or next steps in your career journey, or to find great candidates for your organisation, visit the Field today!

You can find the next blog in our Spotlight Series (all about Get Skilled Access) here

Banner with "Spotlight on Santi Martinez", a picture of Santi in his powerchair above two logos, one for the Field and one for International Day of People with Disability.

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