The journey from Spanish Harlem to the boardroom has been magical. I have the benefit of being able to look back at my 20+ years as a consultant for Accenture, along with my life growing up, to identify all of the “hard times” as a kid, which have made me successful in the boardroom.
As a Latino managing director in a global Fortune 500 company, I have always given back to my community, from serving on the board of non-profits to leading up Accenture’s Hispanic American ERG for six years. With all the experience I have gained, it is my mission to help others achieve their dreams.
With the opportunity of stepping into the role of CEO of ALPFA, I am honored and humbled to continue the legacy built by our members, countless volunteers, leadership teams from our professional and student chapters, and corporate partners that have made ALPFA what it is today. As I think back to my childhood growing up in Wagner Projects in Spanish Harlem, New York, in the 1980s, I can’t believe that in the same way the Latinx community helped give me opportunities in life, I am now in a position to do the same for others. What makes it even more exciting is I am not alone—I have an extended family of 80,000+ members focused on the same mission.
Everyone has an origin story, but the ability to really understand how your story gives you power is critical for Latinos as we strive to elevate in the corporate world. Hearing stories helps inspire, but knowing how your story gives you strength translates inspiration to action.
So, the question I usually get next is, “How can we learn to better understand our story?” There are four components/activities that I tell people to focus on: (1) Journey Line (2) Value Tree (3) Value Mantra (4) Purpose Framework. I’ll focus on the Journey Line and Value Tree here because they are the most critical. I recommend everyone develop their journey line, which is a drawing of your life, starting at any point going to present day. Your level of happiness is on the y-axis, and time is on the x-axis. As you think back on your life, you will plot out the highs and lows, and it’s in these moments that we learn our lessons of life. The high of highs and low of lows are where we build our character and grow the most. When people take time to develop the line, they start to see all they have accomplished and all they have persevered through to achieve success. Once you have done that, you begin to see the strength you have on paper. This is your origin story; it’s no different than a Marvel comic superhero. Once you have documented your journey line, you realize just as Superman had his hero’s journey, so did you. You may not be able to fly, but you definitely have developed your own version of superpowers in finance, accounting, or blockchain. When people work through this, they often have more confidence because it removes the impostor syndrome issues they encounter. They see their story and realize: I belong in the boardroom!
The second key piece is knowing your values. My values are legacy, opportunity, diversity, justice, courage, fortitude, energy, and industriousness. When people talk about being their authentic self at work, I believe that means sticking to your values. Through a person’s journey he or she will change. Everyone should be evolving as a person, and if you stay true to your value system, then you are being authentic as a leader. Know your origin story, enjoy your hero’s journey, and remember to help others along the way.