Taking ALPFA to New Heights
by: Latino leaders staff
Eduardo Tobon is a consultant in Spencer Stuart’s Consumer, Marketing Officer and Financial Services practices. For the past 20 years Eduardo’s professional career has focused on global consumer and financial services with deep marketing insights. Prior to joining Spencer Stuart, he served as president of Diners Club International. Currently, Eduardo is part of ALPFA’s Corporate Advisory Board (CAB) and has held important positions during his 15-year tenure with the association.
In this Q&A Eduardo shares his experience in engaging Latinos entrepreneurs with ALPFA and reigniting its membership on a national scale.
We know ALPFA’s mission is to empower Latinos leaders. How has this vision developed over the last 15 years since you first joined and what are some of the trends you have seen as far as engaging Latino entrepreneurs with ALPFA and connecting them with other top companies in the U.S.?
In my opinion, the most radical change for ALPFA has been under its new leadership, which has both elevated the organization and repositioned it to ensure it is “For America.” When I originally joined ALPFA, I saw the organization pivot from purely accounting to finance and eventually leadership in business. Fifteen years ago, we were anchored in many universities and well known global companies yet we weren’t always connecting with entrepreneurs.
There were sporadically some terrific entrepreneurs in certain locations that would get involved, but the majority of the leaders were part of big accounting firms. Over the years, we have been able to add more leaders with more diverse backgrounds, and certainly more Latinas. ALPFA’s Chairwoman, Yvonne Garcia, has championed very successfully our “Women of ALPFA.” America needs upward mobility and role models. Our successful leaders, and in many cases, our trail blazers come from different paths including corporate, small businesses, start-ups, government, military, academia and arts. I am personally seeing more recognition of the breadth and depth of our talent. Latinas and Latinos are amazing and are contributing meaningfully toward making our country a better place. America needs to continue to be the land of opportunity and we must ensure that future generations keep that spirit alive.
I have heard you say that the plan is to reignite and elevate ALPFA’s reach by incorporating CEOs, CXOs, and top Latino/a leaders in every city. How do you plan on doing this and how can ALPFA members help you to accomplish this outstanding task?
We feel strongly that there is an opportunity to connect more CEOs and C-Suite Latinos/Latinas in many if not most of our cities. We are piloting this approach in NYC, Chicago and Miami, and there will be more cities over time. In Chicago, we are calling and meeting with all the top leaders that want to be part of this pilot. We want to meet every eight weeks and make sure that we have meaningful and frequent interactions. The idea is to have CEOs mentoring C-Suite, who in turn would mentor the next level (MDs, SVPs, VPs), and so on and so forth (directors and managers), all the way to our future generation, which is comprised of students. It’s a mentorship ladder that allows for interactions at the right levels and we hope can create lots of momentum and real impact.
It is a fact that Latinos are driving growth in the U.S. economy and many businesses have recognized the importance of Latino’s purchasing power. How can ALPFA and its leaders support the notion that all brands must take into consideration the Latino presence and its consumer strength?
Leaders basically lead. If they are empowered with knowledge and tools, they can typically be more effective. Once leaders identify the importance of demographics and how Latinos play a significant role in the future of our economy, it can be an easier conversation and a better outcome for brands, companies and everyone involved. Sometimes, people are afraid of understanding this subject deeper and feel perhaps that this is a fad. Changes in demographics will continue to bring the topic of the large and still growing population of Latinos. For instance, U.S. elections are popular examples where these changes will be under the microscope and could have long-term consequences for our country.