When I was a kid in Ecuador, I watched the movie Wall Street, which sparked my interest in the financial world and thought "I would like to work in the financial services business." After I moved to the US when I was 19, I achieved that dream by starting my first job with Merrill Lynch, while I started to pursue my bachelor's degree in information technology with a business minor from the University of Massachusetts, and my first job was with Merrill Lynch. I was like, "Okay, I did it."
If you look at the way this world is right now, even if you work in different sectors, you need to have some technology background to really understand the full picture of what's happening in business. That's one of my current roles right now. I am a product manager in asset servicing for BNY Mellon, leading the client onboarding program. I have to understand both the business and technology side, and then try to put myself in the client's shoes to really get a clear picture of how to look at onboarding as a whole.
Since I was a kid, I've always been curious. I've always tried to find new ways of doing things and see how we can really learn something new. My role now really speaks to that. It's a ground-breaking role, changing people’s mindsets and looking at new ways of how to do business – how to make it easier and improve the overall experience for our clients and our internal users. It's pretty exciting. There are days that I'm in phone calls and I'm talking about machine learning and artificial intelligence. There're other days that I'm talking about, "How do we get rid of spreadsheets? How do we get rid of emails?" And just trying to find those solutions is really exciting. It’s a massive project. Every month we are delivering new features and new capabilities.
In addition, I am also the regional co-chair for the Pittsburgh chapter of IMPACT. My key function is to help drive our goals and initiatives by empowering the leadership team and enabling them to deliver all of the DEI events that will help our members and participants. As an IMPACT member, I see myself as a catalyst. I really like to share my passion for and knowledge of my culture with others. The experience that I had moving here from another country, learning about other cultures – I feel like I'm helping people to open new doors, as well as expand their horizons in a very impactful way.
Coming from Ecuador, the biggest struggle was finding the confidence to speak up with English being my second language. There are times I'll forget how to say something, and I'll try to find another way to explain it. Through my years of experience in the working world, that's where I kind of learned to expand my knowledge and really became more confident in speaking. Because that's the key thing when you're learning a new language – it's more about confidence. You might know all the words, you might know how to say it, but if you're not confident enough to say it or speak out loud, that's where the difficulty is.
To me, Hispanic Heritage Month really honors cultures and contributions from the Hispanic and Latino community. It's celebrating the heritage across all the Latin American countries, because each country is different. Each country has their own traditions, their own histories and heritage – and it's really fulfilling to learn and understand them.
I have a very large family and a lot of them still live in Ecuador. Around 15 years ago, we had a birthday party for my grandma and we had over 700 people attend. All were family members. I visit whenever I can, plus my wife is also from Ecuador. Our son was born here in Pittsburgh, but we take him there to visit to really understand and learn where we came from and the traditions that we have. It's very similar to the US. It's not big of a difference like in other countries, but still, there are things that are unique – the food and the music especially. Ecuador has a huge array of food and different ways of making it. But music really runs in our veins. I haven't met yet a Latino that doesn't like to dance.