The Hispanic and Latinx community in the United States has increased its strength over the past few years, both in terms of the market that we represent and the influence we have on business, economics, and politics. Finance is a natural place for that community to gain prominence, where we rely on our abilities to frame issues and move toward solutions.
Any entity that wants to succeed in the long run needs to reflect the society they aspire to serve so they have a good line of sight and understand the market. Microsoft takes a very deliberate approach to culture, and finance has been at the forefront of critical inclusion and diversity efforts here. We have a lot of work in front of us, clearly, but we’ve also gained traction and made progress over the last few years.
So, we at Microsoft are proud to be hosting a virtual event for this community, Empowering Hispanic and Latinx Finance Professionals, on Thursday, January 28, 2021. We want to make space and share different stories from both Microsoft and the industry in general. We are excited to be hosting this event in partnership with the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), whose purpose is to connect Latino leaders for impact. My personal goal is to amplify our voices, give them context, and share what Hispanic and Latinx finance leaders are up to.
I’m honored to be giving the keynote address to share what Microsoft is doing from a finance perspective. We’ve been on this modern finance journey for the last 25 years, letting our CFO customers know the different challenges and decisions we’ve made to get the Microsoft finance function where it is today.
Finding the courage to bet on yourself
I’ve seen much of that journey during my time at Microsoft, which is only the second company I’ve worked for. I started as the controller for the Microsoft Peru subsidiary in 1996, which had less than $15 million in revenue and fewer than 10 employees. It’s been a long road from there to where I’m sitting now, looking after the Americas commercial business, which includes Latin America and the original Microsoft Peru office that is now part of a conglomerate of subsidiaries.
Some stretches of that road were less traveled, as they say, where I took jobs that may not have made sense in the moment. I went to Microsoft Australia for several years, and that turned out to be an important decision. I developed this sense of loneliness because of the time difference, with only four hours overlapping with the rest of the world, so I learned to make decisions on my own very early.
Then I worked in the Middle East and Africa, based in Istanbul, for about five years. Although it was not apparent from the beginning, that was one of the happiest assignments for my family and me, our first experience in a Muslim African country. I learned a lot about myself and humanity in general—there are so many more things that bind us together than separate us.
A friend of mine told me years ago that you have to be willing to bet on yourself. I think that’s the ultimate definition of courage: making a call when the outcomes are uncertain. If the outcomes are given, there’s no risk and no reward. It’s about having the fortitude, clarity, and presence of mind when those moments come, to recognize them and make the call that works best for you.
Inspiring the community to dream and achieve more
I share my own story not to be pretentious but because I want people to see what’s possible. I have been empowered by mentors who came before me, like Roberto Goizueta at Coca-Cola and Orlando Ayala at Microsoft, and now that I’m in this chair, I take that responsibility and carry it forward.
Our goal with the Empowering Hispanic and Latinx Finance Professionals event is to inspire people from this community to dream and achieve more. You’ll hear and see your own voices reflected back to you.
Our speaker lineup is impressive—we’ll be joined by senior leaders from Microsoft, General Motors, and BMO Financial, including Microsoft CFO Amy Hood, who will be giving welcoming remarks. You’ll be exposed to different ways that you can have a career and make an impact in finance, and you’ll get a broader understanding of what finance is, beyond banking and corporate finance.
I really hope you’ll join me on January 28 for this incredible event. Follow along and invite your colleagues and peers on your social channels today by tagging #MSFTLatinxinFinance. There’s no cost to register, so I encourage you to sign up today and help us put the Hispanic and Latinx finance community front and center.