The LeaderSHPE View, 4th Edition

Happy fall, Familia! And welcome to the fourth edition of The LeaderSHPE View!

With Charlotte fast approaching, I’ve been watching NASCAR more intently than usual. Inspiring our 2022 Convention theme, Racing Towards the Future, these cars are engineering marvels, and the crews that keep them running epitomize the concept of a well-oiled machine. Every role is crucial. Every movement, intentional. It is a perfect combination of science, engineering, and technology – a recipe for success, if I’ve ever seen one.

And then there are the drivers. Well, the drivers appear to have no fear. They accelerate when any sane person would brake. They pass with millimeters to spare. They take risk after risk in pursuit of crossing that finish line first. It’s a breathtaking thing to witness (literally – as I often find myself holding my breath). But it’s also a familiar feeling. Because watching them reminds me a lot of watching YOU.

You, meaning our SHPE members. Because I’ve been involved in this organization long enough now to see some very bold and brave things happen here. I’ve seen students and professionals stare down the most intimidating obstacles – financial limitations, institutional racism, generational trauma, communal inequities, language barriers, and more. And I’ve watched these same students and professionals march forward, day after day, with the perseverance and resilience any NASCAR team would be proud of.

That is why I’ve curated a new 8-session series especially for this year’s Convention called, Fearless. Inspired by you and sponsored by Rockwell Automation, each session will motivate us to take risks when we normally would not, conquer the fears that get in our own way, and lead a fulfilling life of clear purpose, defined intent, and maximum impact.

The speakers we’ve assembled are each “fearless” in their own way. They are Chief Diversity Officers, CEOs, inventors, and influencers who have accelerated their careers when they could have slowed down. And they are coming to the Convention with one goal in mind – to remind us that we are the drivers of our own futures, and the future of Hispanics as a whole. In my opinion, it’s one of the most ambitious and important line-ups we’ve ever had, and I truly hope you will join us.

Between now and then, we’ll be teasing the topic of “Fearless” on an organizational level. For example, our most current SHPE Out Loud episode features a conversation with Dr. Chris Hernandez, and gets his unique take on the subject. Then our next Familia Meeting on October 17 will feature two of our Fearless speakers, Fernando Rosario and Jay Flores, for a preview of what is to come in November.

And as always, the conversation will continue on my LinkedIn. Please follow, comment, and start preparing for what Charlotte has in store!

Until next time, take good care, Familia!

Chris Wilkie

The LeaderSHPE View, 3rd Edition

Hello again, Familia! And welcome to the third edition of The LeaderSHPE View!

Even more than usual, I’ve got leadership on my mind. 

It makes sense, I guess, since August is the month for leadership at SHPE. We kicked things off with NILA’s President Summit from the 3-7th, held our first Familia Meeting introducing our next Board Chair, Fernando Paz on the 15th, and we’re wrapping up the month with the launch of our new podcast, SHPE Out Loud – where we amplify the voices of Hispanic leaders in STEM. 

I find this topic so important because I believe that increasing the number of Hispanics in STEM careers just isn’t enough. To see true change and realize all the benefits of diversity, we need to see Hispanics at the highest levels of decision making and strategy setting. This is how we transform the industry and our collective futures.

Encouraging our members to develop their leadership skills and find their unique approach is one of my favorite parts of this job! And there is no shortage of styles out there. Finding what you personally align with is a critical part of being the best and most effective leader you can be. I’ll use myself as an example. 

In my last essay, I spoke about my own personal leadership philosophy – Grit, Grace, & Grillin’. However, as I leaned into it more and more, I found myself needing a proven framework to drive execution. Ultimately, it was by combining three popular leadership styles – Inclusive, Authentic, and Enterprise – that I created the right recipe to deploy my philosophy on an organizational level and effectively lead SHPE. I define them as follows:

  • Inclusive Leadership – This method is for individuals who are aware of their own biases. They actively seek out and consider different perspectives to inform their decision-making and collaborate more effectively with others.
  • Authentic Leadership – This approach emphasizes being genuine, open, and honest. Authentic leaders build authentic relationships and inspire trust and motivation in their employees. They practice self-awareness, balanced processing, relational transparency, and integrity.
  • Enterprise Leadership – This style addresses the ever changing social, political, and business landscapes your organization is operating in. It focuses on performing while transforming, ultimately resolving the tension between profit and purpose.These leaders understand that to accomplish this, top-down directives will not work. It is now a team sport.

For me, it was exploring, practicing, and integrating all three of these models that helped me find an overarching style that embraced Grace, Grit & Grillin’ and worked for my staff.

And this tracks. In today’s environment you have to be rounded. Enterprise accounts for the business side – growing membership, increasing corporate partnerships, diversifying revenue,  and upping event attendance. But the workforce expects more than impressive metrics and financial success. They are demanding environments that actively promote and foster inclusivity and authenticity, and offer maximum work/life balance. These have become key factors in employee retention. 

All for good reason! Enterprise might publicly “show” DEI, but if it is not backed by a leader who upholds inclusivity and authenticity, it will just be “diversity theater.” And there’s nothing transformative about that. Thus these three styles are truly complementary and collectively take care of BOTH the employee/volunteer workforce and the organization. They are the embodiment of grit & grace. 

I hope this gives y’all something to reflect on with regards to formulating your own leadership path. But regardless of what resonates with you, be sure to leverage your strengths, be true to your values, and consider the needs of your team. 

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be offering more examples, insights, and personal reflections about all of this on my LinkedIn. Please check it out and follow if you want to explore these styles further! And if you haven’t already, please check out SHPE Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts!

Until next time, take good care, Familia!

Chris Wilkie

The LeaderSHPE View, 2nd Edition

Hello again, Familia! And welcome to the second edition of The LeaderSHPE View!

Today I’m going to introduce a philosophy that informs much of my leadership and organizational approaches. It’s a lens with which I look through often – whether I am considering a substantial strategic move organizationally, or negotiating with my 10-year-old daughter.

As y’all have probably figured out by now, I’m from Texas – born and raised. And sometimes the phrasing I find normal, might seem quaint or folksy to those living outside of the South. Now that I represent a national organization like SHPE, I find myself translating these otherwise common Texas sayings.

At the same time, it would be a mistake to think that the Lone Star State has not been drastically influenced by Hispanic culture. In fact, Latinos and Hispanics make up nearly 40% of the Texas population. Their contributions can be seen in every industry and way of life. So while the language I use might not indicate a Spanish origin, the values and concepts they represent certainly do.

So back to this philosophy of mine. I call it Grit, Grace & Grillin’.

Now grit and grace are words used frequently in our day to day lives, but you usually hear them referred to separately. They are seemingly diametrically opposed ideas. But I find that the tension they create when used together constitutes a perfect balance of toughness and tenderness.

To be honest, there is nothing regarding grit that I can teach SHPE members, because much of what I have recently learned about the meaning of this word has come from them. The tenacity, perseverance, and resilience our students and professionals employ to achieve their dreams and change our communities is inspiring. What I hope to encourage, however, is how they can utilize this muscle to further their STEM careers and become the leaders our industry needs.

And grace? Well, grace is showing kindness when someone is struggling, makes a mistake, or fails to meet expectations. And you know what? That someone can be you. The pressure to succeed – to get that internship, to pass that class – can be intense. Grace is about believing you did your best given the circumstances. Grace is also about extending that belief to others. Grace is ultimately about leading with empathy and compassion.

I believe as leaders, no matter what area of life we are talking about, we have a responsibility to deliver a profound experience of growth, success, and happiness to those we serve. Approaching each situation with grit and grace helps me do this.

Finally, let’s talk about grillin. I love food. I love the art of cooking, the combination of flavors, and the feeling of kinship it brings to any situation. When you’re at my table, you’re family! And when I tackle a recipe, I find that it is the perfect place to practice employing grit and offering grace. Sometimes the preparation is long and exhausting. Sometimes the technique requires careful finesse. But the end result is always an achievement we can share and celebrate together.

Y’all, Grit, Grace & Grillin’ has made me a better leader, coworker, father, and friend. I use these combined theories every day at SHPE, and I look forward to showing you how over the next few months.

As I mentioned in the last edition of The LeaderSHPE View, I’ll be offering more examples, insights, and personal reflections about all of this on my LinkedIn. Please check it out and follow if you want more! Oh, and there will be food. Lots of food!

Until next time, take good care, Familia!

Chris Wilkie

The LeaderSHPE View, 1st Edition

Hello Familia! And welcome to the first edition of The LeaderSHPE View!

You may be familiar with the CEO Corner articles that were published once a month under Raquel and Miguel’s tenure. Similarly, after six months in my new role as CEO, I am eager to start communicating more directly with members and stakeholders about the state of SHPE, current events, organizational vision, and even some personal thoughts and philosophies.

But I want to make sure you are hearing not only from me, but other leaders from SHPE’s executive team. So The LeaderSHPE View is an avenue to start publishing key organizational voices in a more casual way. Our goal is to keep you – our members, supporters, and advocates – informed while giving you real insight into the incredible people behind SHPE’s C-suite. We are so excited for y’all to get to know us better!

And this monthly column is just one part of an overall executive communications strategy. As you may have heard, we are starting a podcast in July! I’ll be interviewing industry experts and featuring member stories on a monthly basis. We aim to provide enlightening and inspirational content that will help bring your STEM journey to the next level. We believe Hispanics belong at the highest levels of leadership in our corporate and academic institutions, and SHPE wants to get you there with real-life examples of success.

We’ll also continue to hold our quarterly Town Halls – or, as we’ll be calling them moving forward, Familia Meetings. We’ll use this forum to solicit feedback and thoughts from our members on important issues and current events relevant to SHPE. While we’ll usually feature a brief presentation from a SHPE staff or board member, we’ll always have a Q&A component so that we can hear directly from you. Keep an eye out for digital invitations on our socials and emails, and make sure you RSVP.

Lastly, if you’re interested in more personal, opinion-based, fun content, please connect with me on LinkedIn. I’ll be digging deeper into the concepts presented here, on The LeaderSHPE View, and as discussed on our podcast. I’ll also be posting about some of my favorite things, and as a self-proclaimed foodie, you know there’s going to be good eats. I’ve got some grilling recipes that will blow your mind! And I’ll be responding directly to comments and questions on these posts, hopefully opening up a more free flowing dialog between me and our members. I truly look forward to these conversations to come!

Now that I’ve given you a sense of what to expect from your executive team moving forward, I’m going to already deviate from this carefully laid-out plan. While The LeaderSHPE View will usually be published on a monthly schedule, in June there will be two! So, check out our June 29th SHPE Nation issue for the next installment where y’all will learn a little more about my personal leadership philosophy, and why I think it compliments SHPE’s mission so well.

Until then, take good care, Familia!

Chris Wilkie