In the first part of this series dedicated to Hispanic Heritage Month, I conveyed my excitement about being able to share insights from my Hispanic and Latinx co-workers at Tech Data. The connection I felt with each of them through one-on-one conversations and the exchange of emails was automatic. I saw my own history reflected in many of their traditions and cultures, which, although they are not identical to mine, have certain common characteristics: strong focus on family, flavors, rhythms, solidarity and warmth. In addition to that natural cultural link, I discovered we all share the same pride and gratitude to work in an organization that is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion and recognizes the heritage of its employees – several of whom are featured below.
Karina Niño de Rivera
Now, it’s time to spotlight the real protagonists of this story and introduce you to some of the traditions that make up such a big part of the lives of our Tech Data employees and our overall Hispanic community. Through the videos below and the answers shared in writing, I invite you to learn more about the colorful and lively Hispanic/Latinx culture.
What does your Hispanic/Latinx heritage mean to you?
Marcelo Esquivel: It means everything because it’s my identity and culture. It means being family-oriented, friendly, and yearning for a sense of community. It also means being open-minded and welcoming of other cultures.
Esperanza Rodriguez: Hispanics/Latinos have a different charisma. We’re happier, more familiar, and we transfer customs from generation to generation. For example, although I left Spain when I was little, I keep the custom and instill it in my children on a daily basis.
Liz Mogrovejo: My Peruvian heritage means the world to me. It means to pay respect to my roots that have brought me up to be where I am today. I wouldn’t be me without my Peruvian heritage.
Angelica New: My Latin heritage is very important to me. No matter where you are, your hometown culture, language, traditions, food, and of course music, really define you and keep you grounded, even more so when you are far away. At the same time, your heritage is complemented with the new culture you adopt as your own. I think that’s very important too.
How does Tech Data nurture diversity in the workplace and what has that meant to you?
Patricia Greenlee: Tech Data has the business resource groups (BRGs). Fuerza is one of them and is committed to empowering the Hispanic and Latin community within the company. This initiative is important to me because it brings colleagues from around the world together. We learn about different cultures, feel valued – and together we bring our own unique background and ideas to Tech Data.
Angelica New: Tech Data welcomes people from all backgrounds. I often find myself having work calls with different teams in the UK and Europe where I get to speak in Spanish. I work alongside great people from all type of cultures and always value what we can learn from each other.
Hector Garcia: I think Tech Data nurtures diversity in the workplace through having inclusion called out in our shared values and being an organization where I can bring my full self to work. Our Fuerza BRG and the other BRGs are critical and encourage learning about diversity among our colleagues.
Marisol Marin: Tech Data nurtures diversity with our Diversity and Inclusion committee. The office is full of so many different ethnicities, and it is so great to be a part of a diverse community. It means a lot to me, as I think culture is so important and we are blessed to have the opportunity to share and learn about others.
“Working in Tech Data and having these opportunities to represent your country, your heritage, your family, and speak in your language make me feel super happy. It's great to work for a company that supports and embraces diversity in the workplace.”
How does a diverse global workforce help drive innovation and why is it important?
Marcelo Esquivel: When your global workforce is diverse, you enable the voices and perspectives of employees from different backgrounds and skillset levels as opposed to having a team that’s homogeneous where everyone will have a similar point of view. These diverse experiences make your team more inclusive and has the potential to make it more competitive in the global market. Also, a diverse team fosters camaraderie and they seem to be more fun.
Andres Dehais: Diverse workforces bring a multitude of ideas, experiences and points of view. These are key ingredients in innovation and adaptability.
Tell us about your favorite (Hispanic/Latin) family custom/tradition.
Angelica New: Some of my favorite things are food (so many that I will leave a link here), Christmas with the family, dancing salsa and travelling by car across Colombia and the Andes Mountain Range. The views are amazing!
Andres Dehais: Semana Santa (Holy Week). Everybody has that week off, similar to a spring break, but the whole country stops for a week off. Also the ‘siesta’ (nap) … the best energy booster ever!
Liz Mogrovejo: I love learning how to make my mother’s dishes. Ever since I was little, she would always try to teach me how to cook Peruvian food. By the age of 5, I would be in charge of cooking the rice (a very important side dish for Peruvians, along with potatoes). I also loved learning how to dance the Marinera, Huayno and Festejo, three important dances that showcase the different regions of Peru.
Myriam Centeno: Like many of the Latinos in the United States, I celebrate Christmas with my family with a special dinner on the night of the 24th and not on the 25th. On the 25th we relax at home.
Hector Garcia: I really like the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Growing up, friends would ask what it was about, and as an adult when throwing New Year Eve parties, friends unfamiliar with the tradition would always ask why we did this. It is for luck in the new year and represents the next 12 months to come. My family would add making a wish with each of the 12 grapes you ate.
Patricia Greenlee: The Brazilian churrasco. That is our barbecue and the time where we get together with our families and friends to talk, drink and eat great food.
Marisol Marin: One?!?! That is very hard. I love aguapanela (sugar cane water), guanabana, maracuya (passion fruit) and Goya seasonings.
Marcelo Esquivel: Celebrating the holidays (both Christmas and New Year’s Eve). The entire family gets together; everyone brings a different dish; there are drinks, music and dancing. At midnight, the kids along with some of the adults shoot fireworks. Afterwards, the party continues until late in the morning. Eventually, everyone goes to sleep (some of the younger folks go out with friends) but only for a few hours. Around 10 a.m., a designated person gets up to start preparing a huge “asado,” which is an Argentinian/South American barbecue. The rest of the family reunites, and the celebrations continue until the afternoon.
Esperanza Rodriguez: For me, one of the main customs that I inherited from my family is eating as a family. When my children were young and with the craziness of schools / jobs / activities after school, every night we always had dinner together and during the weekends we had all three meals together. For me it is the time to share as a family and talk about the activities of the day.
“Even though I was born and raised in the U.S., I grew up going and visiting family in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Costa Rica where I used to be outdoors all day every day riding horses, going on trails, climbing mountains or seeing volcanos. This stark contrast with the American lifestyle of bikes and skateboards. Spending a lot of time in those beautiful countries and doing very unique things which didn’t seem so unique when you are a kid, makes me feel privileged to have had such an awesome childhood.”
What’s one Hispanic/Latin flavor you can’t live without?
Hector Garcia: My grandmother’s flan … which I now make, and it still brings great memories.
Esperanza Rodriguez: I cannot live without bread.
Andres Dehais: Salsa Lizano (Costa Rican salsa flavor).
Myriam Centeno: I always have tortillas in my fridge.
Who is your favorite Hispanic/Latin artist?
Esperanza Rodriguez: Salvador Dali (surrealist artist) and Joaquin Sabina (singer).
Hector Garcia: I have to go with Gloria Estefan.
Patricia Greenlee: Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Marcelo Esquivel: Soda Stereo – their lead singer passed away, but they still perform.
Liz Mogrovejo: Depending on my mood, my favorite artists are Selena Quintanilla, Romeo Santos, Marc Anthony and Oscar D’Leon.
What do you miss the most about your native country?
Angelica New: Definitely family, food and of course the weather.
Marcelo Esquivel: I miss the pastries and pizza the most. But as far as non-food related things, I miss how warm and friendly the people can be.
Esperanza Rodriguez: Food, culture, the possibility of going to museums, cathedrals, palaces, castles ... Wherever you go or wherever you live, there is a lot of history.
Myriam Centeno: I really miss La Purísima, a religious Catholic festivity that celebrates Virgin Mary. It is one of the most popular traditions (if not the most) for the Nicaraguan. It takes place at the end of November and runs through most of December and it’s a tradition that in a certain way kicks off the holiday season. It's celebrated with a "novena" (nine days of prayer and devotion) and "La Griteria" – a massive event held on Dec. 7 in the streets of Nicaragua. During the novena and griteria, altars are built, singing occurs and gifts and food are handed out. Groups of people – locals and tourists alike – walk from house to house chanting.
Andres Dehais: Costa Rican weather … perfect!
Patricia Greenlee: I miss spending time with my family and I miss the Carnaval (Carnival). I was able to take my daughter to celebrate Carnaval in 2018 and it was a lot of fun.
About the Author:
Karina Seir is a senior communications specialist at Tech Data. In this role, she develops and executes communications plans that reinforce business initiatives and company strategy, supports the development of internal executive communications, collaborates with regional leaders and manages the external communications and public relations efforts for the company’s Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. Seir has 20 years of communications experience – the last 14 of which have been with Tech Data. The Venezuela native moved to the U.S. in 2005 and is fluent in both Spanish and English. Karina’s background and profile can be found on LinkedIn.