Guillermo Diaz: Investing in the Next Generation




How did you get to this position?

I strongly believe that a foundation of family, relationships, and a constant  aspiration to never be satisfied with current success got me to where I am today. I started my career in the US Navy right out of high school with one goal – getting my  college degree – but I didn’t quite have the means to get there through a traditional route. So I saw the military as a way to get that opportunity. This path also  everaged what I learned about my foundation of strengths – my family was always supportive,   I built strong and diverse relationships, and tested the limits of my physical, mental and creative abilities; this is the way to achieve what you aspire. And go to places where you never thought possible.

What was given to you in terms of advice or mentorship that pushed you to where you are today?

There are a few things that I learned along my journey. First, my mom taught me to “never forget where you came from, to know where you are going.” Being in tough jobs, like in the Navy, I also learned what I never want to do. Finally the power of relationships and “ROI – Relationships Over Issues.” By this I mean when you invest in relationships, the dividends and returns can be very rewarding. And always look at different sides of the coin “Look across the bridge from both sides” to understand the other perspective.

Now that you have achieved much success - what advice can you give to the upcoming generation?

Build your own human network as there are very few things that can be done alone, especially in business. And be comfortable being uncomfortable. If you are in your comfort zone then you are not learning enough or pushing yourself. In today’s technology and digital age, we must remain more than competitive and push  ourselves constantly to improve our skills. Right when you feel comfortable with your skills, get uncomfortable.

What steps do we need to take to address the Hispanic Technology pipeline shortage?

We must look to hire and build the pipeline of future talent by focusing on going after diverse candidates. At Cisco, our main hiring pipeline is the great University Program that we have established. In the past couple of years we have grown the number of women and minority students in both our hiring and intern programs. We not only look for these candidates but also have specific relationships with key minority accredited colleges and universities, and even go a step further into the high school level. Every year we hire interns from high school’s like Cristo Rey, which serves underrepresented minority students. When you see these kids in action and giving their end of year readouts, trust me, you will be in tears.


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