CEO Corner

December 2018 – On a Journey to Transform

This year’s convention was a wild success, with the largest-ever participation and attendance; and once it finished, took what felt like a well-earned vacation starting with 48 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

But as happens when you care about something so deeply, I soon found myself thinking about my SHPE familia.

I was in my car, with my 125-pound Great Dane puppy, Owen, driving south from my home in D.C. to TennesseeOutside my window was ridge after ridge of wooded forest, those ancient Smoky Mountains so rich in life they have been compared to the tropics. It was beautiful in a way that’s hard to describe, but as the miles peeled away, I found myself thinking about another journey entirely.

When I joined SHPE a year and a half ago, I was (and remain) committed to transforming the world for Latinosbut too often had to make my point with percentages

Hispanics are underrepresented in STEM, the argument went (and still goes). The instances where we are hired, we are not necessarily meaningfully included or promoted to leadership positionsTo a large degree this is still true. The data backs it up.

But, while traveling this November, post-Convention, I felt a shift inside of me. As a Latina who has herself faced bias as a CEO this incremental pace of progress is not fast enough. We need to demand more rapid and positive results. We need to demand and insist on transformation.

This is a favorite topic of mine, transformation, and it’s important that we distinguish between transformation and its close cousin, change.

Change, as I see it, is inevitable. It is near-certain that Latinos will be a larger and larger percentage of our population, even the largest slice of the America piebut it is hardly guaranteed that our booming demographic will be adequately represented in STEM jobs, as well as other centers of power and influence including but not limited to government, academia, the military and philanthropy.

Surrounded by amazing people at SHPE, we’ve experienced the beginnings of transformation—many of us personallyFollowing our recent convention, more students walked away with jobs and internships than ever before, and more companies left with highly talented, qualified employees than any other year.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, 3M, John Deere, General Motors, Eaton, IBM—these are just a few corporations for which SHPE is now an essential and very grateful partner.

Yet as Latinos, we have so much more to offer than hireability, which is really only the first step in many of our personal-professional journeys.

As the American spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson puts it, “Personal transformation does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world.”

In other words, as we Latinos seek better circumstances for ourselves, our families and our community, the future of everyone—not just Latinos—will improve. This is why we must pay so much attention to our personal journeys, and it is why transformation will be a focus of the 2019 convention, as well as NILA and our regional conferences.

So it was a productive vacation I had, driving from D.C. to Pigeon Forge; and from there to New Orleans to Houston, Texas, to spend time with my parents and sisters. 

Truth be told, even though, technically I was on vacation, SHPE was/is always top of mind for me. The way I see it, SHPE never goes on vacation. And transformation—well, it never gets put on pause. So I encourage each of you to make a conscious choice to be your best self always by engaging in continuous exploration and learning as you navigate your personal and professional journey of transformation.

Here’s wishing you and yours, a joyful holiday season.


November 2018 – A Bigger Bottom Line

There is beauty in having the courage to show who we are and what we believe, and this week’s National Convention in Cleveland will be a testament to this idea.

There, in a city whose story mimics our own—a story of struggle and triumph, hard times and brighter days ahead—SHPE will show its true face and indomitable spirit. But our willingness to reveal our true colors can’t stop at the convention hall doors.

I was reminded of this while scrolling through LinkedIn recently, when I came across an article written by Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang. In it, he talks about Lenovo’s longstanding commitment to sustainability, and how the company continues finding unique and novel ways to reduce its environmental footprint. We’re not just talking about an office recycling program. These are big, bold, daring initiatives: from bio-based product packaging to playing a key role in improving conditions around “conflict minerals.”

Throughout the corporate world, programs dedicated to social responsibility, environmental stewardship and diversity and inclusion are on the rise. Not just because these are objectively good things to do. It’s also good for business. When a company erects a one-megawatt solar array on their factory’s roof, those panels aren’t cheap. Over time, however, the savings on energy costs can be enormous, allowing that company to invest money back into the business—and its workers.

In the business world, we’re taught to treat the bottom line as the end-all-be-all. But there’s more to staying in the black than mere dollars and cents. Over the past decade or so, the idea of the triple bottom line—one for profit, one for people and one for the planet—has gained more and more traction. In fact, some of SHPE’s most prestigious partners and sponsors have taken up the corporate responsibility mantle (you know who you are).

But there’s still more to be done—much more. Here at SHPE, we’ve long advocated for more diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and there has been tremendous progress made on this front. Now it’s time to take the next step: As more and more Hispanics enter and scale the corporate ranks, we must be the voices in the workplace advocating for change. For more diversity and inclusion. For more minority-outreach efforts. For more robust sustainability initiatives. It’s not enough to rest on the laurels of progress; we must pay that progress forward, looking beyond our own personal journey to the greater odyssey beyond: bringing about a more peaceful, prosperous planet.

To the thousands of SHPE students and young professionals out there—particularly those of you attending SHPE’s convention—my parting challenge is this: As you pursue your professional dreams, don’t be content with merely “making it.” Instead, find ways to make your workplace—and the world beyond—even better.