I was born in Mexico. My family came to the US when I was 12 years old, looking for a better life. While leaving behind my friends and other family members was a huge shock, I found the cultural differences I experienced even more shocking. For one, I didn’t know a single word of English. Starting 7th grade in a different country, with a new language, was difficult, to say the least. I remember the first few months I would communicate with teachers and fellow students by signs because it was the only way I could. As a means of survival, I quickly learned to speak English. That was one of the most difficult challenges I had to face when I left Mexico.
Learning a new language while trying to successfully fit into an entirely new class environment took a lot of effort and work. For many of us, we lose insight into our culture as we focus on the hustle and bustle of the everyday grind. Growing up, I was always reminded to never forget where I came from and to always know where I am headed. I made a promise to myself not to forget about my Hispanic roots and upbringing. I incorporate my culture in everyday life, including at work.
When I first joined Palo Alto Networks there was only one employee network available, the women’s network. I remember taking a look around me initially and not seeing anyone that looked like me. Eventually, I met other Latino colleagues in the office and was able to start a grassroots Latinx Employee Network — Juntos, in 2018. My goal for Juntos is to be able to make an impact in our community by attracting, retaining, and developing Latinx leaders in technology — and it’s bigger than Palo Alto Networks. It’s serving a culture I don’t want to leave behind. This isn’t an easy task, but I am up for the challenge.
There is a technology gap for the Latinx community. This gap can affect education for many Latinos who are unable to afford the right equipment to learn how to work on or with technology or have the finances to attend the right colleges. It’s time to break that cultural barrier. It’s our responsibility as leaders, as community members, as ethical business managers to break that cultural barrier. My purpose is to educate my community, especially those who are still in school and early in their career. I want to spend more time and resources to educate high school students about how they can make an impact to the world with technology, the many opportunities that are available to them in the tech industry, and more importantly, simply that it IS possible — coming from someone who has been there. This is a passion that stems from wanting to give back and provide to my community so they can have more opportunities. The drive goes deeper than just helping my community, I have a 5-year-old son and I know that what I am doing will impact him and other kids in the future. I want to motivate and inspire the younger generation to continue their education because if I was able to do it, they need to know they can succeed as well.
One of our core values at Palo Alto Networks is Inclusion. As part of that, our Latinx Employee Network group is focused on partnering with leaders across the organization to bring in Latinx talent. We are working to build more relationships and educate our Latinx community on all the opportunities available to them. Next month, Juntos in collaboration with Ujima, our Black Employee Network, is hosting our first career night for the local Latinx and the Black communities at our HQ in Santa Clara. Our hope for this event is to equip attendees with the right skills to obtain a career in Cybersecurity or another industry in Tech.
They’ll learn how to speak to recruiters and hiring managers from a guest speaker, then immediately be able to apply it in real life. We’ll have tables set up for guided conversations with recruiters and hiring managers from every hiring department. We’ll also be providing complimentary headshots, along with food and drinks, of course. We’re not only opening doors for underrepresented minorities here, but we’re making sure that they are well-equipped and prepared.
It’s time that we don’t ask individuals to come to us — rather, meet them where they are. It’s not one person’s responsibility to open up doors to others who have been historically underserved, but everyone’s.