Hispanic IT Executive Council: a win-win proposition for all
The year-old council offers networking opportunities, leadership training and mentoring, job postings and membership database info
By JD Lamb
Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC, www.hitecglobal.org, Detroit, MI) wants to prepare Hispanic execs to be world-class business and IT leaders, and to help their careers accelerate, says David Olivencia. Olivencia is executive program director of the technology business unit of Oracle Corp (Troy, MI) and HITEC board president. “By joining HITEC, a Hispanic executive gets exposure to corporate boards, CEOs and CIOs, access to world-class training and search firms, and the opportunity to hook into a network of executives that spans the Americas,” he says.
HITEC offers networking, leadership training and mentoring, job postings and membership database information. All this, and the organization is just a year old!
Co-founders of a tighter network
Olivencia is one of four HITEC founders. The others are David Segura, CEO of VisionIT (Detroit, MI) and vice-chair of HITEC; Francisco DeArmas, strategic info officer and chief architect at GMAC Financial Services (Detroit, MI) and HITEC board chair; and Jose Guerra, CEO of L5 Source (Cincinnati, OH) and HITEC treasurer.
As members of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), several of the founders saw a need for an organization that focused more specifically on technology at the executive level. And they wanted to create a tighter network to mentor promising Hispanic IT execs.
HITEC was modeled on the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF), which focuses on the careers of African American IT business leaders. Segura, who is also a member of ITSMF, notes that many of that organization’s members had been looking for a similar group for Hispanic leaders.
A unique niche
There are relatively few Hispanics at high levels in IT, Olivencia says. That makes HITEC a unique niche organization aiming to serve some 500 Hispanic IT execs across the country.
The organization already has fifty members. They came through word-of-mouth, through the founders’ personal networks, and through recommendations from the HITEC advisory board, which includes reps from the huge executive search firm Korn/Ferry (Los Angeles, CA), LatinaStyle magazine (Arlington, VA) and ITSMF. The organization hopes to connect with potential members through an increased Web presence.
A current challenge is connecting with Latina execs. These women are in very high demand and “really have to see value in an organization to join it,” Olivencia says. “But they bring a perspective to an executive team that is definitely needed.”
“Like starting a business”
“Starting a new nonprofit organization is like starting a business,” Olivencia declares. “You have to get the message out, and people have to believe in you and your mission. Some people will want to wait until the organization is mature before they join, which adds to the challenges of getting an organization off the ground.”
Olivencia expects HITEC to grow at twenty to thirty percent a year. “As we get more members we want to make sure we’re meeting their needs, and as we get more sponsors we want to make sure we’re meeting their needs, too. We want to keep a moderate pace of growth and really take care of our members and sponsors each step along the way.”
Listening to sponsors
HITEC gets support from board members’ networks and from organizations like Hispanic chambers and NSHMBA as well as corporate sponsors. The sponsor list currently includes Oracle, Target, Compuware, GMAC, the Walt Disney Co and Sun Microsystems. Beyond financial backing, sponsors provide a variety of perspectives on diversity and leadership in the IT industry, and an expanded network of both job and mentorship possibilities.
In return, HITEC can help match the sponsoring companies with experienced execs. “Our sponsor companies recognize that in this competitive global economy diverse IT leadership teams add to their strength. They’re looking for the best executive talent, and our organization is loaded with talent to help all kinds of organizations,” Olivencia says.
Exec summits and how they grow
Sponsors and other supportive companies have the opportunity to host HITEC’s quarterly executive summits.
The first such event, in New York City, was hosted and sponsored by the financial services firm UBS. UBS senior execs talked to members about technology at UBS and shared lessons they learned as they grew in the technology field. Mark Polansky, senior client partner for IT at Korn/Ferry, spoke about the future role of the CIO.
HITEC’s second exec summit was sponsored by Hewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, CA) and held in Texas this past October. It featured a CIO reception, “inviting local CIOs to come network with some of the best IT executives in the country,” Olivencia explains. Each summit will be held in a different city, another way of broadening networking opportunities for members.
Kicking off Year Two
“Year One of HITEC has been about building infrastructure and getting the word out about the organization,” Olivencia says. “Now it’s time for mentoring to kick off.”
The group plans to model its mentoring program on ITSMF’s executive protégé program, which pairs people just below executive level with very senior management. Curvie Burton, chair of ITSMF, has been providing guidance in structuring HITEC’s program.
As the mentoring program gets stronger, HITEC expects to provide more senior-level execs to IT businesses. Olivencia envisions HITEC members sitting on corporate boards, leading C-level IT teams, mentoring the next generation of senior leaders and even helping to create public policy.
Excitement for all
In the meantime, “It’s very encouraging to see the passion and real energy members have displayed in growing this organization,” Olivencia declares. The sponsors, too, are excited, and Olivencia himself is flying high.
“From a leadership perspective, HITEC is helping me grow personally,” he says. “I’ve helped start an organization and I’m leading it through a phase of hyper-growth; all this on top of my daily responsibilities at Oracle!
“HITEC is a win-win proposition for members and sponsors. And, because we’re helping provide world-class business leaders, it’s a winner for the IT community as a whole.”