SHPE Steps Inside the Global Arena
In last month’s CEO Corner, I talked about Teddy Roosevelt’s famous speech, “The Man in the Arena.” In it, Roosevelt argues that those with the courage to step inside the proverbial ring—of politics, business or society more broadly—are the true agents of change. The lesson for SHPE is clear: We cannot be discouraged or dissuaded by the naysayers of the world. Rather, we must get in that arena—fight for what we believe in.
Two weeks ago, alongside SHPE National Board Chair Miguel Alemany, I had a chance to experience one of the biggest arenas of all: The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
Just by stepping foot in Davos, SHPE made history, as one of five members (and the only professional society) representing the first Hispanic delegation ever to attend this world-shaping event. None of this would’ve been possible without the incredible coordination provided by my good friend Claudia Romo Edelman of We Are All Human, along with the efforts of another good friend, Cid Wilson, CEO of the Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility, who secured many invitations to sessions and events on SHPE’s behalf.
Working 18-hour days during the week in Davos, Miguel and I made numerous connections that will serve SHPE in ways we can’t even fathom. For example, we met with Jesus Mantas, senior managing partner at IBM (a longstanding member of SHPE’s Industry Partnership Council), to talk about SHPE’s crucial role in shaping the future of STEM. I sat on an all-woman panel hosted by the Female Quotient, an incredible organization that’s leading the way on gender equality in the workplace. SHPE cohosted a Hispanics in Tech Dinner, along with the Motwani Jadeja Foundation, We Are All Human, and X, Google’s famed “moonshot factory.”
Then there were the countless conversations—during and between the week’s events—that left me feeling inspired and invigorated about SHPE’s role in the wider world. We connected with influencers like will. i. am., founding member of hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas and a champion of STEM in the East L.A. community. Visionaries like Astro Teller, X’s Captain of Moonshots (his actual title). The CEOs of Accenture, Cisco, and JP Morgan Chase (all SHPE IPC members). African American billionaire and philanthropist Robert F. Smith; Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales; and an assembly of others: All of them now know about SHPE (check out my Instagram feed for the highlights.)
Some might wonder why SHPE was there at all. “A professional organization? In Davos? Talking to some of the most powerful people in the world? About big global issues like climate warming? Really?”
The point, which I conveyed in just about every interaction I had, was this: “SHPE is here, in Davos, because Hispanics are going to be a force for decades to come. The organizations that will thrive are the ones that will capitalize on Hispanic talent. SHPE Members are that talent.”
Don’t just take my word for it; take it from the World Economic Forum and the U.N., both of which have identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with several focused on youth and minority empowerment—mirroring SHPE’s own goals—as key to a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.
For SHPE to embrace this opportunity, to be a catalyst and a solution, we must move beyond the expectations and paradigms of the past. We can’t limit ourselves to making a mark here in the U.S. We have to think about the bigger picture, about the global realities shaping our economies, our societies and communities, our very way of life.
Here's the thing: Hispanics *are* the bigger picture.
The numbers show our impact already. For instance, if the GDP of all Latinos were a country, it would be larger than India ($2.13 trillion). This year, Latinos are projected to account for 24.4% of the total U.S. GDP. And in 2060, Hispanics are predicted to make up 30% of the U.S. labor force. We are the future workforce! We are the future!
I’ll tell you one thing: We’re going back to Davos next year. In fact, members of the original Hispanic Delegation are discussing setting up a Hispanic House (“Nuestra Casa”) along the city’s main promenade—right next to the India House, the Russia House, the China House and all the rest of the major delegations. We’ll be more prepared (though I have to say, we were pretty darn prepared this year!), more involved, and more vocal.
This year, SHPE officially entered the global arena. We were noticed, seen, and heard at the WEF in Davos. Next year, we will again be noticed, seen, and heard—clearly and ardently. Because, as Theodore Roosevelt stated so eloquently, “the credit belongs to those who spend themselves in a worthy cause.”
SHPE’s mission is that worthy cause: to support Hispanic students and professionals in STEM. We know it. People in the U.S. know it. Now it’s time for the world to know it, too.
In attending Davos, SHPE took a calculated risk. I know that risk will pay off. (It *is* paying off.) Not only for our organization, but the broader Hispanic community as well. So long as we stay in the arena, and so long as we continue to see ourselves for what we are: an unstoppable force ready to meet the world’s biggest challenges head on.
Raquel Tamez, SHPE CEO