Silicon Valley and Frank Carbajal Eye Latino Tech Leadership
The Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit Held on May 14
Story By: Kristian Jaime
Stanford University has been the site of many seminal moments in the tech world, and for the seventh year in a row, it brought together the industry’s progressive minds.
The Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit (SVLLS), held on May 14 at the Stanford Faculty Club, was an opportunity to discuss how to invest in Latino diversity in various technology fields.
Frank Carbajal, owner of EsTiempo, LLC and founder of SVLLS, knows all too well that Latinos run the risk of getting left behind in an increasingly technology-literate world.
“The first summit was held in 2010 on Sand Hill Road, which was then known as the venture capital Mecca of the world. Very few Latino venture capitalists are on Sand Hill Road, so I brought the [best and brightest] to the inaugural event, which sold out,” Carbajal said.
Meticulous planning paid off as the native of El Centro, California, and son of Mexican immigrants put a spotlight on the lack of diversity in the tech industry. Even more inspiring for the attendees, the fledgling SVLLS sought solutions.
After receiving his Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management from San Jose State University, the first generation college graduate did what he does best: connect decision makers with up-and-coming Latino talent in the state. Seven years later, the summit is still on point, with over 250 leaders in business, government, entrepreneurship and social media on hand.
This year even featured a “start-up pitch” segment, where a panel of judges comprised of law experts and venture capitalists could provide vital advice and sales leads for participants.
“[The summit] is a platform to show Latinos and non-Latinos that we are worth investing in since we are here to stay and worth the talent,” continued Carbajal. “In terms of the big picture, I’m a human capital connector. So I’m very fortunate that I’m connected with [leading Latinos] in technology.”
Carbajal is quick to point out fields like civil engineering are a growing industry for Latinos, while mechanical and electrical engineering are remaining stagnant. Most troubling to the author of “Building the Latino Future: Success Stories for the Next Generation” is that the number of Latino software engineers is seemingly decreasing.
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curricula are the front lines of getting more minority students involved in careers that will be at the forefront of top-tier jobs in the next decade. Yet demographic trends indicate minorities are less likely to pursue such classes than any other block of students.
If STEM training is the cornerstone, then admission to traditionally technological universities is the next logical step. According to Carbajal, the road to Latinos as tech leaders eventually leads to mentorship by industry dynamos.
“People need to build the relationships with folks that are in top companies like Google, Facebook or Apple, for example. They need to be mentored and it needs to be reciprocal,” Carbajal explained.
Since the inception of SVLLS, the goal has been to not only educate, but to facilitate. For all the connections at the annual event, success is gauged by the long-term relationships it can cultivate.
For that reason, this year’s keynote address by Laura Gomez, founder and CEO of Atipica, was titled “Optimizing the Diversity Pipeline.” Amid a number of panels and vital networking opportunities, attendees also heard from Dr. Robert Rodriguez, president of DRR Advisors.
His lecture, “Advancing the Latino Talent Agenda in Corporate America,” outlined the overall goal of conferences like the SVLLS and the increasingly deep pool of talented Latinos in the tech field.
The conclusion of SVLLS only served to highlight the lynchpin of the summit as Art Lewin, owner of Art Lewin & Co. Executive Clothier, delivered “The Art of Networking — Winning Habits of Building Relationships.”
“Es tiempo. It’s time to create a vision that is not only attainable but also sustainable for the future,” concluded Carbajal.