By: Migdalia Díaz, Chief Operating Officer, ALPFA
Editor’s Note: ALPFA Boston is the local chapter of the largest Latino professional network in the country. Its mission is to empower and develop Latino men and women as leaders of character for the nation, in every sector of the global economy. For more information visit: www.ALPFABoston.org
At the age of 4 my parents moved us from Puerto Rico to New York and then a year later to a small town in Connecticut. For a long time we were one of the few families of color in this small town. My mom worked very hard to make sure we stayed connected to our culture at home, while asking us to blend in when we were out in the world. I suppose it was her attempt to protect her children from the prejudice she was already experiencing.
Of course, she could not have foreseen the impact that living in a different culture would have on us, nor could she relate to it. It felt like I had to be two people, one at home and one at school.
As I made my way to the work force, that experience didn’t change. I felt different from my colleagues and it made me feel like something was wrong with me. What was worse was that I had no one to compare notes with. It was an isolating experience.
Then, about six years into my career, everything changed. A partner I worked for at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP signed me up to attend the ALPFA National Convention. I was his only Latino employee and he wanted me to go. I figured it was a free trip to Miami, so why not? I did not expect the seismic shift that was about to happen.
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I recall entering a room with over 1,000 Latinos all dressed in suits. It was like I had been granted access to a secret society of people that were experiencing the same things I was, and it was ground breaking. This was the beginning of my education of how to leverage aspects of my culture at work while connecting with others like me.
In the years that followed, I realized that I needed to embrace the American and Puerto Rican parts of me. I needed the freedom to be one person, exactly as I was whether at home or out in the world. That acceptance allowed me to worry less about fitting in, and focus on what is happening in the world, and my place in it. The moment I did that, everything started to fall into place.
What I see now is a world where companies are expanding globally, and cultural dexterity is vital to working on global teams. Diverse teams breed innovation which drives revenue. The opportunity for us as Latinos at this moment in history is bigger than any of us can imagine. My request to you is to not wait as long as I did to embrace who you are, and the role you can play in this world. Our time is now.
Perspectivas Profesionales is a new monthly section in El Mundo Boston featuring the leading Latino voices from the world of business and entrepreneurship. For more content like this click here. Puedes leer este artículo en español aquí
Migdalia Díaz is former President of the ALPFA Boston Chapter and currently serves as Chief Operating Officer of ALPFA, Inc. where she is responsible for 43 professional and 155 student chapters across the country