The Infrastructure of Success
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of attending the 20th Annual Charting Your Own Course Career Development Conference in Orlando, Florida. As part of a panel discussion on the topic of career ownership, I heard incredible stories about dynamic professional trajectories and personal transformation. I even had a chance to share a bit about my own journey.
But what has stuck with me is a remark by Werten Bellamy, founder of CYOC and one of my cherished mentors, who said that “Good habits are the infrastructure of success.”
During this panel discussion Werten was focusing on good habits for professional success. Certain tendencies or regular practices that support one’s career stability and growth like honing solid organizational skills and being open to change and new things. Specific behaviors and actions like taking the time to connect and interact with people in other departments; reading articles on broader industry trends—you get the idea.
(As an aside, I think it’s equally important to foster healthy habits outside of work: a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, sufficient sleep and rest, strengthening your mental and physical prowess, learning the importance of and practicing resilience—to think and train like an athlete.)
As the CEO of an organization committed to professional development, I couldn’t agree more with Werten’s perspective. But the longer I sat with his words, the more I thought about “good habits” in the context of SHPE itself—the good habits we must maintain to create an organization with a truly “just cause” (in our case, empowering Hispanics in STEM). To me, an organization’s habits is part and parcel of its values. If what we preach is diversity and inclusion, for example, our habits should reflect that.
When we look at how far SHPE has come over the past 46 years, from a small handful of Hispanic engineers in a garage in East L.A. to a national powerhouse of almost 12,000 members strong, it can be tempting to rest, to take a breath. But if we don’t improve on the habits that built this organization—staying true to our mission and purpose; constantly reevaluating and fine-tuning our processes; enhancing our programs year in and year out—our infrastructure will start to suffer. In time, so too could our success as a major influencer.
The good news: over the past couple of years, we’ve done exactly that. We’ve overhauled our brand experience to better reflect our mission and values. We’ve strengthened our partnerships across industry and academia, garnering more sponsors and strategic influencers. Looking ahead, our goal is to create even more good habits: better governance; better business systems and operations; better programming; better communications—the list goes on.
We’ve also launched a number of programs and initiatives to help aspiring Hispanic students and professionals develop their own good habits—both for their careers and their engagement with SHPE and ultimately the Hispanic community.
There’s latinXfactor, our series webinars that teach our SHPE student members to nail interviews, create the perfect resume, and power network. There’s MentorSHPE, which pairs young people with seasoned professionals; and SHPEtinas, aimed at encouraging Latinas to pursue, succeed and thrive in careers in STEM. Each of these programs is designed to make professional development engaging, dynamic and empowering.
But it’s not enough to merely build good habits. We must also nullify the bad ones. Whether it’s placing too much emphasis on profits; or failing to embrace change and transformation; every organization runs the risk of relying on old ways of thinking, on standing still instead of stepping forward—and that includes SHPE. For all our recent success (and we’ve had a lot of it), the means and methods that got us here aren’t the ones we’ll need to get us where we want to go. Of all the good habits an organization could have, perhaps the best one is this: Being willing to create new ones.
As your CEO, I also know it’s important to practice what I preach. For me, building good habits means making sure I’m taking the time to visit with SHPE members and stakeholders throughout the country. It means being receptive to constructive feedback. It means staying in touch with chapter leaders, to ensure we’re putting out the best resources possible. It means recognizing where we’ve been, planning for where we’re headed, and always looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve. After all, how else are we going to Ascend to Transcend?
I invite you to think about your engagement with SHPE as an integral part of our organizational structure like the foundation of a well-built house. The SHPE (power) house. It’s because of your passionate participation and engagement that our infrastructure is as strong as it is. The more involved we are—the more we reinforce the good habits that got us here—the stronger we become. As individuals, as an organization, and as a Familia.
Raquel Tamez, SHPE CEO