By Gloria Romano-Barrera.
After 10 years, the Hispanic IT Executive Council, (HITEC) a global executive leadership organization of senior business and IT executives, who have individually built outstanding careers in information technology, has emerged on the national stage as a leading voice in philanthropy in support of Technology. Founding members, Jose Guerra, David Segura, Frank DeArmas and David Olivencia, felt a forum for Latinos in the IT world was needed. After several meetings and discussions, HITEC was founded.
“I remember it was August of 2006 and we started chatting about what this organization would be. What would be its purpose, why do we want this created and what first steps do we need to take,” says founding member Jose Guerra. “We put together a very rough vision and mission for the organization and from there we started working very hard in recruiting members.”
With a growing number of members, HITEC continuously adapts to the needs of Hispanics in technology so they can be successful. With a mission to provide a forum for the career development and advancement of technology executives, HITEC provides exposure to leaders and the broader technology community, creating opportunities to connect member organizations across different business segments and share technology trends. In addition, HITEC provides mentorship, sponsorship, and continues to give back to the Hispanic community through philanthropic efforts.
HITEC’s network spans the Americas and is focused on building stronger technology and executive leaders, leadership teams, corporations, and role models in a rapidly changing information technology centric world. The global leaders include executives leading corporations while others lead some of the largest Hispanic-owned IT firms across the Americas.
With a vision to connect and inspire Hispanic technology executives to develop the next generation of leaders, while fostering a trusted peer to peer family environment, the reach of HITEC extends from students to executives in the C-suite and CEO level.
Led by CEO and President Andre Arbelaez, HITEC’s executive leadership, board of directors and advisory board bring knowledge and expertise essential to HITEC’s ability to deliver outstanding programs and services to the community, whether they are men or women. Uniting leaders and strengthening the bridge of Hispanics in IT, HITEC makes an impact through their various programs every year.
“We’ve been very proud because we have not only been able to grow and survive but exceed expectations of incredible leaders in the technology community that happen to be Latino and that has been a tremendous pride as we celebrate the number one minority in the U.S. – Hispanics,” shares Andre Arbelaez, President of HITEC and SVP & Chief Strategy Officer, Softtek USA. “We work hard to find them, to promote them, and highlight them across the country. We work closely with corporations to develop programs, to inspire and lead our members.”
Thanks to the support of its members, board of directors and sponsors, HITEC has grown its membership, leadership, and influence.
“As corporations have come to know HITEC, they have realized the value of diversifying their workforce,” shares Guerra. “By having a forum like HITEC they can see and realize the tremendous talent that is in the Hispanic community, not just today but waiting in the pipeline. And by working with HITEC, corporations continue to increase the number of Hispanic IT leaders because they realize the value to diversify their workforce.”
A successful Latina executive leveraging HITEC’s mission is Myrna Soto, Vice President for the HITEC Board of directors and Corporate Senior Vice President, Global Chief Information Security Officer at Comcast. “As a successful technology executive who happens to be Hispanic, it is up to me and others like me to make sure that change in the form of raising the expectations and driving a different perspective around Inclusion and Diversity is an absolute must,” she shares. “I am fortunate that being a part of HITEC, serving on the Board and being a member of the Executive Committee provides a platform to ensure being a catalyst for change is part of “business as usual”.
Also serving on the Board of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS) and Spirit Airlines (NASDAQ:SAVE) Soto believes HITEC has demonstrated an incredible commitment to the Hispanic Community and in particular those in the technology field. “The ability to maintain Corporate Sponsorships and become a premier organization in this field is humbling but extremely satisfying. I attribute our success to our members and the quality of engagement we have been able to harness. I also believe our Sponsors have had a tremendous role in our progress. We have a wonderful Board of Directors with some of the top technology executives in the world. Lastly, our Operating team has done some herculean efforts to keep the momentum going. I think it is absolutely wonderful to see this organization reach this incredible milestone.”
With 30 to 35 percent of Latina membership, HITEC has made Latinas in STEM a core principle and a core area of discussion. According to Soto HITEC has made it a point to highlight Latinas at every summit and have tailored a significant amount of content to the development of Latinas in the STEM field.
HITEC has partnered with Accenture to focus around women in technology and have created a customer women’s track during HITEC summits. “I like to say we were racing awareness of the issues in this space well ahead of many but very happy to be partnering with great partners to keep the agenda front and center,” shares Soto.
David Olivencia, founding member and Managing Director, Cloud Advisory at Accenture believes a strong board, strong leaders and sponsors are the ingredient for success. “It is great to watch people’s career advance,” he shares. “Our members continue to progress, and they will inspire the youth to pursue careers in technology. Organizations like HITEC, and learning from and connecting with leaders and being a part of it, will prepare them as they move in their respective organization.”
Nellie Borrero, Senior Global Inclusion & Diversity Managing Director at Accenture believed in Olivencia’s vision for the organization and felt the strategic opportunity to be at the forefront of building a strong foundation of support for the next generation of Latinas in STEM was at HITEC. This led to Accenture becoming one of HITEC’s first sponsors.
“Our relationship with HITEC has blossomed over the past 10 years,” she shares. “Now, David, Tony Diaz and Rocio Lopez, represent the Accenture trifecta advancing careers for Hispanics in technology. We have effectively created an environment where both women and men come together to discuss issues that confront the community – and in doing so have created a synergy that opens doors to opportunity.”
Together, HITEC and Accenture created and continue to lead, HITEC’s Women’s Breakfast Series, which has grown significantly and benefits Latinas at all levels. “Women come together, face-to-face, to discuss the issues they’re experiencing, to look at the things that are critically important from a skilling perspective and to expand their networks, which is critical,” Borrero shares. “This has given us an opportunity to amplify our voice, provide an effective platform for Latinas in technology and make stronger connections with our clients and communities.”
For Board member Ileana Rivera, Senior Director of IT, Computing and Client Productivity Services at Cisco, it is important to challenge the organizations and companies she is a part of to ensure Hispanics have the right representation. It is also important for her to continue to cultivate that desire on the new generation through organizations inside and outside Cisco and with the women she talks to and mentors every day.
“We will continue to stay close to our core and our philosophy of “Push up, Pull up” and our HITEC foundation,” she states. “We will continue to push our emerging leaders to higher grounds and pull our executives to greater visibility and sponsorship. We have a big opportunity in showcasing our Latina talent and Latina leaders, and in HITEC we do this well. All young girls and boys need to know that there is a Myrna Soto (EVP/CISO Comcast) and a Guillermo Diaz (SVP/CIO Cisco) that, like them, are from Hispanic descent and now at the top of their careers and they can also be that! They are my coaches and mentors, and they motivate me to reach higher grounds every day!”
Since 2008, HITEC has compiled a list featuring the top 100 most influential and notable Hispanic Professionals in the Information Technology Industry called the “HITEC 100”.
The core mission of the HITEC 100 is to highlight and showcase outstanding professionals who have excelled in the business of IT, role models who inspire young people to pursue careers in technology and motivate professionals continue to excel and connect with the Hispanic community.
Other programs include the Emerging Executive Program (EEP), which develops emerging Hispanic IT leaders with the highest potential and desire to become the next generation of Hispanic IT Executive leaders.
Targeting women, the HITEC Women in Technology Series sponsored by Accenture, is composed of three 90-minute breakfast sessions at each one of the HITEC Summits. These session offers a safe space to share personal and professional stories, seek advice and gain insights into progressing a career in technology.
The Corporate Board Development or “Board Fit” program, sponsored by KPMG, is part of HITEC’s pushing up mission. HITEC is committed to positioning their members for boardroom excellence and showcasing the importance of strong, diverse boards. The program is a three-part series held during the Leadership Summits.
New this year is the ERG Workshop Series in collaboration with DRR Partners. The 90-minute session at the 2017 Summit support and help HITEC Corporate Sponsors & their ERG leadership more effectively guide and manage their employee resource groups.
Also new this year is HITEC’s The Digital You presented by Miyan Media. The 90-minute session provides guidance on online personal branding.
As HITEC continues to evolve, providing personal development and growth is a critical component of that success.
Excited and proud to be involved with HITEC, Alberto Yépez, chairman for the HITEC Board of directors and Managing Director at Trident Capital asserts the organization’s purpose is to build the pipeline for the next generation of technology leaders, specifically Hispanics. HITEC’s chairman for nine years, Yépez has built on the importance of mentorship, building lasting relationships and paying it forward. “The importance of the leadership role we take in our respective communities, whether in government or in corporate is real,” he shares. “Our ability to do it is here. Our time has come.”
Frank DeArmas, HITEC’s Co-Founder, Chairman Emeritus and Treasurer shares a similar sentiment as he strongly seeks to ensure that Latinos are represented at the C-Suite level.
“We have a lot of pride on how far the organization has come,” he shares. “We never dreamt it would take off like it has. It has been a lot of hard work, it has been great to watch it evolve throughout the years. We will continue our mission; help the youth get into the STEM fields and eventually become senior executives at companies throughout the world. We really want to see an increase of Latinas across the board and we have a lot of pride when we see Myrna Soto and others stepping up and getting into leadership positions. We are proud of where we are but we know we have much more to do. If you are a Latino or Latina in STEM, join us and help us celebrate our accomplishments thus far and a bright next 10 years.”
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