Reflections on Hispanotech’ s 10th Anniversary
In 2019, Hispanotech.ca celebrates a milestone 10 years in operation, so this is a good time to remember our beginnings, assess our present and imagine our future.
Hispanotech.ca was founded by six successful information technology professionals that wanted to share the lessons they had learned, to help other Hispanic immigrants that were trying to understand, integrate and succeed in the Canadian technology sector. These six Founders formed the initial Board of Directors and, even though they passed the baton long ago, you can still find them participating in events, volunteering as mentors and providing advise to our Board.
Since its inception, Hispanotech’ s main activity was on technology events that promote networking. As every immigrant knows, the biggest loss they experience when they move to a new country is their network of friends, relatives, school buddies and work colleagues. Hence the emphasis on networking. The weather, transportation and geography are manageable concerns, as are cultural differences, but for Hispanics moving to Canada, as is the case for many visible or noticeable minorities, there is also the language challenge, and the fabled Canadian experience. To help with language, all Hispanotech events are conducted in English.
As a more comprehensive response to these challenges, we started our Mentorship Program five years ago, adapting the TRIEC program to produce results in a shorter timeframe of 3 months, and we have since enhanced it every year. A key differentiator of our program is that Mentees receive guidance from a Mentor in the same industry and, more importantly, a person from the same background that has successfully navigated through the same challenges.
We must highlight that our focus is on career success, not cultural assimilation. One of our guiding values is that we are thankful and happy to be Canadian, yet we are proud of our Hispanic heritage. We love our new country AND we celebrate our roots.
Our Hispanotech brand has remained the same, however over the years we have expanded our concept of tech to be more than just information technology, and to include all areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). And we have also expanded Hispanic to include our cousins from Brazil. In fact, this being Canada, we do embrace diversity and accept members from any background, religion and sexual orientation, and 5% of our Members are not Latinos.
As we’ve grown, it has become clear that collaboration with other associations is important, partly because many of our Members participate in multiple groups, and also because working together helps alleviate the workload on our all-volunteer organizations. We started this mindset with our leading role in the LNBB initiative (Latinos Networking Beyond Boundaries) as well as by opening our Mentorship Program four years ago to be a joint initiative with other professional groups.
As we look to the future, we realize and accept that, beyond helping our Members, Hispanotech is well positioned and has a responsibility to play a leading role in the Hispanic community. In addition to joint activities, this may take the form of scholarships, support for community organizations, and donations to our countries of origin, to name a few.
Furthermore, the Hispanic professional community is also well positioned and has a responsibility to give back to Canada, by sharing our lessons learned with other immigrant or native communities that may not have reached the same level of professional maturity.
After ten years of Hispanics helping Hispanics, we see our role evolving to Hispanics helping Canada. And we gladly accept the challenge to lead the way.