Digital Presence Panel Discussion with HITEC

(From left to right) KC Caldwell, Ileana Rivera, Myrna Soto, Andre Arbelaez, and Haden Land

On May 5, 2015, Hispanic Executive‘s managing editor KC Caldwell had the privilege of conducting a panel discussion with four leaders of the Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC) who are also international leaders in IT. The discussion was a part of the events surrounding HITEC’s Q2 IT Leadership Summit and its HITEC 50 Celebration. The panelists were:

Haden Land, VP of Research and Technology, Lockheed Martin
Board Director, HITEC

Andre Arbelaez, SVP and Chief Strategy Officer, Softtek
President, HITEC

Myrna Soto, SVP and Chief Information Security Officer, Comcast
Vice President, HITEC

Ileana Rivera, Senior Director of IT, Cisco
Board Director, HITEC

The four panelists—two HITEC board members and the president and vice president of HITEC—also happen to be smart, informed, and savvy social media users, which informed the theme of the discussion and served as a follow-up to the May/June 2015 Hispanic Executive magazine cover story. Listen in.

On social media usage for building an online brand:

Haden Land: “I’ll share some of the things that I do personally. So, I’m very active on LinkedIn but it’s 100 percent professional. And I have roughly 2000 connections there. Facebook on the other hand is leaning more towards personal—probably about 25 percent professional. Instagram is probably about 90 percent personal, 10 percent professional and Pinterest is 100 percent personal. So, it’s kind of a balance using the right tools and connecting to the right networks.

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Andre Arbelaez (left) and Haden Land (right)

[Social media] has helped me to communicate what’s important to me in industry, academia, and government and things that are important to my heart, not just to my head. I’m not the most approachable person. I’ve been called somewhat intimidating and I don’t know why but having that presence on the Internet in an electronic form, and having other ways to understand Haden besides trying to interpret me in person, I think has really helped me to connect with the aspiring community. I am extremely committed to philanthropic activities but that wouldn’t really come out in a casual conversation. You would have to go and get to know me on Facebook. It has really helped me better engage, so I’m frankly thrilled about what social mobility has provided me personally and my peers. And I encourage the Hispanic executives out there to leverage this, focus on your brand and introduce yourself in different ways.”

Andre Arbelaez: “[Building a digital brand] all starts with something I strongly believe in and I say constantly: Es nuestro tiempo. It’s our time. Corporate America has definitely recognized what’s happening. There have been tectonic shifts in the way corporate America looks at Hispanics, so our brand is more important than ever. If you look at the television, Spanish-language television outpaces CBS, ABC, Fox, and NBC. You have to build your community. And we have an incredible community here amongst us. So build your community, make those connections, and keep that important brand out there.”

Myrna Soto
: “[Social media usage] is complicated. And it is a full-time job. And I have no one that helps me with it. There are a lot of folks that actually have staff that will tweet for them. I wish I had that. I do not. But at the same token, it’s about being a regular human being. So I find great pride in spending time on social media. Not only tweeting and sharing about the work that we’re doing at Comcast, the great things that we do at HITEC, but also making me a normal person. Because when I look at the brand potential not only for my business, for my profession, for my associations, [I see] it’s also a recruitment opportunity. I run into people all the time that follow me and learn about opportunities at Comcast. I think I’m very approachable but the fact that they see me online, posting, sharing snippets of my personal life, they actually feel more comfortable coming over to me and saying, ‘Hey, I understand you like to golf.’ Well, first of all, if you say that to me, you’ve already got my attention. They could say to me, ‘Hey, that was a great bottle of wine you just tweeted.’ It really gives an opportunity to demystify that executive stance. So we have to be core professionals first and foremost and we have to project an executive presence, but at the end of the day, we’re still people. We’re normal people that have interests and it’s an opportunity to blend those two worlds.”

“[Social Media] really gives an opportunity to demystify that executive stance. We have to be core professionals first and foremost… but at the end of the day, we’re still people.” -Myrna Soto

Ileana Rivera: “I just want to reiterate what we’ve been saying: you’re creating a brand. If you’re a sales person, the first five minutes that you spend with the prospect are probably the most important minutes if you’re going to be closing a deal. But the fact that you can go online and do research about that person ahead of time, when you meet with that person you can make a connection right away in the first five minutes. That’s powerful. If somebody Googles me, I want to make sure they can see that I love my family and that my family is present there, that I’m very involved with the community, promoting girls in IT and in STEM, and that yes, I love to have fun, and then HITEC and Cisco. So if you start building your brand, whether you’re starting now or you’re already there, go and clean some of those things. Make sure that when people Google you or go into your Facebook page or Instagram that it represents what you want them to see. The goal is that when people see your online presence, you don’t have to speak to it. People know exactly what you’re about.”

On keeping up with constantly changing social and mobile trends:

Andre Arbelaez: “The trick [to keeping up] is really to ask your own kids. I have a 12-year-old daughter and it’s an Instagram world with her. She is what you call a true digital native and I’m always asking her, ‘What’s the latest?’ And I found out that she and her friends all collaborate doing their homework on with a four-way video communication tool through mobile. And I’m amazed. But it’s different as a parent now because kids sometimes don’t leave the bedroom. They lock the door but they are engaged. They’re communicating with their village. You’ve got to stay in constant contact with the younger generation to know what the latest and greatest is.”

Myrna Soto: “I don’t have kids but I have wonderful teenage and prepubescent nephews who are great windows for me as far as how these outlets are being used. And it gives me an opportunity to befriend them, to be exposed to the things that they’re doing. But it’s interesting to see the way this generation uses mobile. Mobile is what has by far exploded the use of the platforms. I don’t remember the last time I went to my laptop to post something. It’s just not natural anymore.

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Ileana Rivera (left), Myrna Soto (center), Andre Arbelaez (right)

I often wonder and worry at times; going back to the digital brand is that it can quickly get away from you. One time—and this was an important lesson learned—I found myself defending my company online. It was a point of contention with a couple of topics and I found myself defending my company and stated facts about my company and the response back was just as volatile as the first. And I found myself responding again but then I told myself, ‘Okay stop.’ There is a point where you have to just draw the line and you have to either make your point very politically and tactfully or walk away. It’s very easy to get into a back and fourth on these platforms and you don’t want to tarnish the work that you’ve done to create a brand with one single response. I’ve seen it happen, I’ve seen people just completely blow up on twitter and it’s a headline.”

Ileana Rivera: “[Staying on top of social media] is not about using everything. I may have everything but I don’t use everything. It’s important for me, not only as a mom, but also as a technology leader that I know Snapchat works. I need to understand it. I know exactly how it works. And that’s the thing, a mom at home or at work, you need to understand what they’re using and make sure that you know how those things work.

I want to just tell you about the very good side of social media. When talking about balancing social media with human interactions, remember that human interactions only work if you’re an extrovert and you actually like human interactions.

My daughter is an extreme introvert. I found a study that said in the 1960’s 25 percent of the population were introverts. In 1998, 50 percent of the population were introverts, according to Meyers Briggs. So, what’s happening is that these introverts have a very hard time in a room full of people. They have a very hard time talking and interacting with people. But for people like my daughter, I created a YouTube channel for her, and she gets so excited. She doesn’t have to go through meeting new people because she doesn’t really care about that. She doesn’t have to deal with not having anything else to say. With YouTube, when she’s done she can just go offline. When I get home, she will tell me, ‘Mom, I replied to this comic book and they replied back, and they like my idea,’ and she’s actually excited about that. So think about the next generation, especially these introverts. They are online extroverts and offline introverts.

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To conclude the social media panel discussion, Myrna Soto took an audience selfie with her selfie stick and tweeted “best selfie of the day.”

“I always say, technology is not about the advancement of technology but about what it does for humanity.” – Ileana Rivera

So, there is a lot to say about how social media is going to impact us in our personal and professional lives. Think outside that box. Social media is great to create a brand and whatnot, but I always say, technology is not about the advancement of technology but about what it does for humanity. And this case is one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about it and why I think it’s going to help us.”