Hispanic Heritage Month
Sept 15 - Oct15 is Hispanic Heritage Month in the US and ABB is celebrating with events and activities to recognize the many ways Hispanic/LatinX people and culture contribute to the business.
September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month in the US and ABB is celebrating. The company’s 20,000+ US employees have a series of (virtual) events and activities to recognize the many ways Hispanic/LatinX people and culture contribute to the business and the communities in which it operates.
With dozens of countries and hundreds of millions of people, the term “Hispanic” encompasses a wide variety of traditions but speaking with ABB employees who identify with the designation, some common themes and experiences emerge. One of those is family.
“People in the US are quick to move out of their parents’ house as soon as they turn 18 or graduate from college,” observes Manuel Parada-Sosa, a recent engineering grad and native of Mexico who is currently working in ABB’s R&D Early Careers program. “In Mexico, you’re more likely to stay until you get married.”
Family also plays a major role in preparing people for professional life. Candida Lopez, President of ABB’s Encompass Hispanics/LatinX employee resource group, notes that while she went to college on scholarship for the first three years, it was her brother who helped finance her senior year. She also took inspiration from her parents who immigrated from Mexico in the early 1970s.
“My father didn’t know any English. One of the first things he learned was ‘one donut, one coffee.’ He ate a lot of donuts,” she recalls with a laugh. But her father’s determination to learn was passed on and Candida attributes much of her success as an engineer to that same persistence.
“I once said I knew how to use Excel without ever having seen it,” she explains. “So I got a self-help book and within about six months I was actually teaching other people on my team how to use it. That got my name out within the company.”
Initiative, hard work—these comprise another common factor in the stories of the people I interviewed for this article. Ninoska (Nina) Tippett grew up and worked for ABB in Honduras before coming to the US, though that was not her original plan.
“My dream was to move to Panama and work for ABB there supporting the LATAM region,” she recalls, but friends convinced her to go to America for greater opportunity, even though she didn’t have a job at the time. She re-joined ABB in the Distribution Systems division following a brief time working at the Broward (Florida) County board of elections and then moved into Smart Buildings where she now works as a Product Marketing Communication Specialist.
Nina studied English on her own and today says she writes better in her adopted language than in Spanish. She also earned an MBA in just one year after moving to the US, “because I wanted to learn the science behind the marketing I was working on.”
Now with her current role, she is back in school again, this time with her sights set on a master’s degree in communications. Her continued schooling reflects an emphasis on education that is shared with the others interviewed for this story.
Henry De Armas, a Digital Marketing Lead, is from Venezuela and reports a similar refrain from his childhood: education, and also the notion that each generation should surpass the one before in both academic and professional achievement.
“The US is a place that values hard work, so Hispanics do well here,” he says. Henry earned a BA in Economics from Florida International University and, true to the standard set by his family, he pursued his MBA from the University of Miami. He works in ABB’s Electrification business and is also a member of Encompass Hispanics/LatinX where he finds of “great support and inspiration.”
Henry, Candida, Manuel and Nina hail from different places, separated by thousands of miles, and each has taken a unique path to the United States. Still, there are readily visible similarities in their values and how those values show up in the workplace. Strong family connections, hard working parents, and an emphasis on continuous learning set each of these individuals on a path toward success. Each faced significant challenges like overcoming language barriers and adapting to American culture, but they’ve not only found their place, but thrived. It’s fitting, then, that as ABB celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, the company also recognizes the individuals who make up this dynamic and highly productive group.