Sylvia N. Martinez, D.D.S.
What do you do professionally? I am a family and cosmetic dentist and have been in practice for 31 years. For the first 16 years I worked side by side with my father, Ralph Navarro, who was also a dentist in San Antonio.
What is it that you like best about your job? Dentistry is constantly changing and developing new techniques and technology. It is important to keep up with advancements in my profession, and it is a continual learning process, which I enjoy. I receive the greatest satisfaction in helping people achieve the good dental health they want and deserve and ultimately seeing a patient walking out of the treatment room with a big smile on their face, knowing that I helped make that difference.
When did you know that you were in the right place in your career? I knew I was in a good place in my career when I discovered that I was serving as a role model to other young women through my actions in and out of work. They saw that I enjoyed my profession while finding a balance between family and work.
How would you describe your leadership style? Leading by example. Working alongside my team, encouraging them to be A-level members. Customer service is very important to me. In my office, we consistently hear from patients that theirs is the best dental experience they have ever had.
Would you encourage your children to go into the same field? As a matter of fact, my daughter, Dr. Kelly Owen, is now a dentist who is completing a three-year orthodontic dental program at Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas. I never pushed her to go into my profession, but just like I did with my own father, my daughter was quietly taking notes. That is why it is so important that we lead by example.
Who were your mentors? My father definitely had the greatest influence on me. When I started in dentistry, there were very few female dentists as role models. While I was in dental school, I remember being told by certain people that I should be home making cookies and that as a student I was occupying a slot that should have been given to a man. My father was always there to offer support and advice, always believing in me.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I like experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes. Cooking is very much like chemistry; I guess that is why I enjoy it so much. I also enjoy going with my husband, Sean, to the various farmer’s markets, visiting art galleries and taking walks along the wonderful walking trails in our city.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life personally and professionally? That’s an easy answer — my husband. He has been my biggest supporter and always encourages me to continue to find and maintain that balance in life and work.
How do you find balance in your life? Career, community and home life. I always remember that I am a wife and mother first who just happens to be a dentist. Work should not be the only thing that defines you. If you enjoy life and your family, that will shine through in your profession.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
My father always told me the most important thing to remember at the end
of the day is “Did you do your best, did you give it your all?”
My husband’s advice is also very simple, but so true: “Enjoy life.”