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Latinx Event: Climbing the Ladder

In celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, the Intercultural Center, Alumni Engagement & Annual Giving, and Career Development sponsored an alumni panel discussion on Wednesday, Sept. 28. The event featured four panelists from Barclays, Wall Street Journal, Univision, and Kivvit, who shared their experiences with students at Monmouth’s OceanFirst Bank Center.

Every year, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 in recognition of the accomplishments achieved by the Latinx community in the United States. The panel consisted of Andre Renaudo’11, Rocio Serey’16, Andrea Alvardo’17M, and Bryan Larco’15M— all of whom spoke about how they leveraged their Monmouth experience to network and climb the corporate ladder. Rocio Serey, Chief of Staff to General Manager, EVP of The Wall Street Journal, introduced the audience and moderated the event. Serey emphasized four main themes for the forum: self-advocacy, self-values, mentors, and relationships.

The panel began with Andrea Alvardo, a marketing specialist for Univision Communications Inc. She initiated the discussion by touching on the subject of self-advocacy.

She started, “Self-advocacy is important because not only will it help students find a support group, but it helps them get a referral for a job.”

Alvardo, who has a Guatemalan background and is bilingual, noted how she doubted herself when she got promoted to a novella specialist. “I felt alone because I was the only Latina in my position. We have doubted ourselves, but we have opportunities to grow. But to grow and be successful in your career, you need to be able to wear both your strengths and weaknesses.”

Following Alvardo was Bryan Larco, Chief of Staff for Kivvit and FUZE Eatery. He began, “I was only three years old when I immigrated to New Jersey, and Monmouth provided me the financials to help cover for school, the friends that I have made, and, ultimately, help in finding my future employer.”

Larco reminisced about what it was first like when he was promoted to Chief of Staff. Similarly to Alvardo, Larco doubted himself, believing he was underqualified for the role. This recurring sentiment is often referred to as “imposter syndrome.”

He explained, “In the beginning, I doubted myself because I felt like I didn’t deserve it. But I later changed my mind because there was no one else to take the head position…No matter how scary it seems, sometimes we have to take ownership of our accomplishments.”

Andre Renaudo, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer at Barclays Investment Bank, recalled how he had to also transform his mentality to meet the changing needs of a new role. “Other people can’t tell your story; you have to come up with your own narrative.”

Serey added, “Tell your stories, and be grateful for your growth.”

Serey also mentioned the three most important things to succeed. She said, “I remember I was shown the P.I.E Theory of Success in one of my classes, and it depicted three categories for success: performance, image, and exposure.” While the majority of Serey’s class said that performance was the most important determinant of success, to their surprise it was ranked the lowest.

Exposure was ranked at 60 percent, self-image at 30 percent, and performance the remaining 10 percent. Serey continued, “Exposure is just as important as performance and image— you want people to talk about you when you aren’t present. The more people talk about you, the more of a network you can take advantage of when looking for a job.”

Throughout the discussion, all four panelists agreed that diversity is a critical factor to consider when taking an opportunity, whether that be to find your own identity, sense of belonging, or contribute to another’s culture.

Alvardo mentioned how she had to “code-switch” between how she acted at home and at her job. “I had to bring my authentic self to work while learning how to adapt to the English.”

Serey likewise reflected, “When I became General Manager of the Wall Street Journal, I changed my name from Rosie back to Rocio because that wasn’t me. I changed it for others’ sake because they couldn’t learn my name, but that wasn’t okay with me.”

She advised the audience to speak up when something feels wrong. “While the corporate world is challenging, it also needs to be a place of belonging and a place to grow. While there are organizations and teams to join for support, being yourself is just as important.”

This transitioned the focus of the discussion to racism and how one should handle him/herself in the workplace.

Larco shared one of his personal experiences. “I was going away for vacation in Ecuador to visit family, and one of my coworkers thought I was going to Mexico, assuming I was Mexican. I was stunned because I didn’t tell her where I was going…I didn’t know how to respond because it was so inappropriate.”

According to the panel, the best thing to do when facing microaggressions in the workplace is to document the situation for oneself and set boundaries to prevent it from happening again.

Serey encouraged, “Remember to not take it to heart, but remind people of your values and educate others. When it comes to experiencing these situations, the best thing you can do is not give in to ignorance and become a stereotype…In the end, having a positive outlook and keeping your composure will get you far in your career.”