The Best in STEM
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These four words represent the future. These four areas are the focus of studies, career development and fields of great need when it comes to developing professionals in the Hispanic population. Why are they so important? This is a key question. Many would answer that it is because Latinos are very lagged in these areas. Others will say these areas are needed the most by corporations in order to keep growing their labor force and forge their expansion. Yet, others would say it is an area full of opportunities for those who dominate and prepare in these fields. The three answers would be accurate: STEM is and should be important for Latinos who are searching for a successful professional path.
Tech leaders are changing the way we view the world, and Latinos need to be at the forefront of an industry that is leading each and every aspect of our human experience. We begin our series by recognizing the contributions of a corporate giant, made much grander through the impact it has had on the lives of young tech leaders. The Bank of New York Mellon and its STEM initiative, led by Lee B. Stephens III, Executive Vice President, has made an impact not only because of its proven success but because of the passion and enthusiasm by which its leaders are investing in the future.
So, for Liz Agosto, Global Chief Administrative Officer, Information Security Division at BNY Mellon, volunteering at Diversetech is one of the highlights of a stellar career. For Emmanuel Delgado, Senior Associate at BNY Mellon, a member of the Technology Leadership Program, the mentorship goes way beyond what he has ever expected.
When and how did you become interested in Tech?
When I joined the Information Security team at BNY Mellon and started to learn about the different aspects of cybersecurity, I found it fascinating. It truly has an impact on everything we do, regardless of industry. I constantly remind my family and friends about the importance of cybersecurity and the personal responsibility we all need to take to keep our information safe and secure. It always surprises me how little people know about it; it’s a very real risk and we all need to be prepared and educated about the potential threats.
What are your key responsibilities in your present role and how did you arrive at this position?
As the Global Chief Administration Officer for BNY Mellon’s Information Security Division (ISD), I report directly to BNY Mellon’s Chief Information Security Officer, Jeff Lunglhofer. In this role, I lead the division’s administrative, operational, and financial affairs. My responsibilities include working closely with Human Resource partners to deliver on ISD’s talent management strategies including staff planning, recruiting, retention and salary administration. My work ensures we have the talent, systems, processes and procedures in place to be dynamic and resilient. I have a passion for organizational change management and enjoy every aspect of it.
What have you received in terms of advice and mentorship that has pushed you to where you are today?
My family has always played a big role in my life as my source of support and inspiration. They’ve taught me some of the biggest lessons: stay humble, keep learning and share that knowledge with others, don’t be afraid to take risks and always go the extra mile. I have also been very blessed to have both formal and informal mentors in my life who have taught me that mistakes can be great learning opportunities. They’ve also shown me we all have the responsibility to build a respectable personal brand and make a path for young Latinos who are seeking opportunities and may not have role models in their families. My mentors have stressed the value of using my perspective – built from all of my life experiences – to put my stamp on everything I do. I also want to be a good steward and leave the world, including my workplace, better than I found it.
What is the main advantage of a career in STEM? Do you see it as a key area of opportunity for Latinos?
There are so many advantages to a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). As technology continues to advance, the demand for people with these skills, education and competencies increases. We have to be prepared to compete in this space, to be a part of this incredible revolution, or risk being left out. In the near future, virtually every job will need people with STEM knowledge – regardless of the industry. If we can’t offer those skills, it will mean we cannot compete in the space. We have to think and be able to compete globally!
What steps do we need to take to address the Hispanic Technology pipeline shortage? Why is it important for corporations like BNY Mellon to help increase Latino representation in the Technology industry?
We all play a part in this. If we don’t, it will affect our competitiveness in the global market. Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the country and we are joining the workforce in big numbers. It is so important that Latinos have the option to pursue a career in STEM, not just for obvious reasons like professional success, but to contribute in areas that are truly vital to our security, our future, and our economy. BNY Mellon is serious about diversity, as evidenced by the impressive work of the company’s Diversetech group, and they are playing a very big role in creating opportunities for Latinos in technology. I am living proof! I feel a lot of pride representing an organization that has an uncompromising commitment to diversity; BNY Mellon has given me a platform!
How do initiatives such as HITEC and Diversetech provide solutions to hiring, developing and retaining diverse Tech talent?
These initiatives provide support, networking opportunities, and mentors, which are so important because many Latinos do not have role models in the technology space or in STEM careers. Exposure to these programs and scholarship opportunities drive focus and ignite a passion in students to help propel them toward professional success. It also teaches them the value of giving back, the understanding and importance of breaking barriers and paving the way for others like themselves.
Diversetech, the diversity in technology division of BNY Mellon’s multicultural IMPACT business resource group, features senior professionals who volunteer their time to promote, attract, hire and retain diverse talent. There’s a strong commitment straight from the top of the organization, offering more passion and support than at any other firm where I’ve worked. The group works closely with HITEC to help Latino and Latina technologists to advance their professional and leadership development, and with other organizations to rally around other underrepresented groups like women and African Americans.
Why did you decide to become involved in developing new Hispanic talent in Tech? How has this enriched your own trajectory?
As one of six girls, I learned the value of sharing at a very early age. I have been truly blessed to have mentors throughout my career who have helped and paved a way for me. I am passionate about doing the same. It is so important. I have nieces and nephews, and I want to make sure they know about and take advantage of every opportunity. We are the future; we have a voice and I intend to use mine. I want to be known as someone who broke barriers and created opportunities, to build a personal brand people respect and aspire to emulate. It’s this passion that has afforded me the opportunity to build relationships with likeminded, successful individuals in my industry.
What are your most important personal and professional values?
From a personal perspective, my most important values are family and the importance of supporting one another; it all begins there! From a professional perspective I stress the importance of integrity, community, respect and stewardship.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your current role?
The most fulfilling aspect of my current role is interacting with people across the organization and within my team. I enjoy connecting the dots, being a part of change and in some cases the catalyst for driving that change. I also find it very rewarding to recruit new talent into the organization. I treasure the opportunity to meet and inspire them to reach higher, and then watching their talent unfold.
What is the main lesson you have learned since joining BNY Mellon?
Since joining BNY Mellon, I’ve learned the power of building a strong network and community to drive change. There is power in numbers.
What advice do you have for others who want to follow your path?
Talk to people, build a network, ask questions, stay curious and don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo - ever! Be a steward, make your mark, build your brand every day and take pride in it.
What are you most proud of in your personal and professional journey?
I’m proud that I have been able to help people in my life to do and be and learn more. It’s gratifying to see some of the people I have mentored who are just as passionate about making a difference as I am. It doesn’t end with a paycheck or the title; it’s about how many people we impact! In my role, I am committed to increasing diversity in cybersecurity. Since I joined in 2016, we have had a lot of growth in the division. In the talent sourcing process that I lead, many of the candidates interviewed for open positions were diverse candidates, resulting in diverse hires. I recently led our delegation at a Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Regional Conference, where I also led two workshops and arranged to have BNY Mellon’s CIO and CISO speak to students at our Innovation Center. From that conference alone we identified more than 50 potential candidates, primarily of Hispanic/Latino descent, to be considered for entry-level technology positions in 2018.