NextGen Collective spotlights Blue People Chief Innovation Officer Alfredo Arvide. Read about his work, the life hack he cannot live without, the causes he’s passionate about, and more.
Where are you from?
Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
What do you do today and where do you want to go in your career?
I am the chief innovation officer for Blue People in Houston, Texas. We are a Mexican company expanding into the US providing custom software development services with a nearshore advantage. I personally focus on solving our clients’ most complex business challenges by collaboratively developing innovative solutions leveraging emerging technologies – or as I simply tell my abuela: we solve business problems.
As a leader, I would love my career to take me on a path where I can focus more on the mentorship aspects of my role. I’ve been lucky enough to have had great mentors and all I can hope is that I can do them justice by paying it forward.
Who inspired you the most in your life growing up?
Albeit cliché, my father and mother inspired me the most growing up. Together, they ran a small technology sales business in Mexico for most of my childhood and I saw firsthand how hard it was to make it all work. Keeping the business running, raising a family, making ends meet, working long hours, and possessing unwavering dedication towards success made me realize that it is possible to have it all–¡si se puede!
What do you wish you had known at the start of your career?
I was 21 years old when I started my professional career, and I was a total one hundred percent by-the-book rule follower. I was a student visa Latino on his practical year extension working for a big corporation–I did not want to do anything that would potentially “mess things up.” I worked hard to get there, and I just did what was asked. I didn’t negotiate my offer. I didn’t ask for a raise. I didn’t push for promotions. I didn’t deviate. I just always listened and did my best.
So, I wish I had known that it was okay to ask for things, ask for the money that I deserved, request feedback to evaluate my readiness for a promotion, and then push for that promotion. I wish I would have asked for better projects when I wasn’t work satisfied. I wish I knew it was okay to request manager changes because you don’t have to get along with everyone and because it is okay to be different.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see for Latinx professionals early in their careers?
Unconscious biases. Latinx professionals have the education, the motivation, the work ethic, and the determination to be successful by advancing within today’s demographically diverse workforce. However, while these social stereotypes regarding certain groups of people still exist in the psyche of many leaders, hiring managers, decision makers, and bosses out there, Latinx workers may face a disadvantage.
What podcast or life hack can you not live without?
I live and die by my calendar. As we all advance our careers, our calendars progressively get busier. To make matters worse, when everyone went fully remote during the pandemic, calendars exponentially exploded due to the need for remote and connected meetings. As a result, my calendar ended up being booked solid week in and week out.
It was not sustainable, and I was headed for a sure burnout, until I realized that I could simply block my calendar to give myself breathing room throughout the week. I booked time to catch up on emails in the middle of the day, I blocked my calendar on Thursday afternoons so I could dedicate time to training, reading, research or whatever I wanted to do. I even started blocking an hour or two to work on a specific deliverable a couple days before its due date.
Blocking time was the life hack I needed and now cannot live without.
When you get a new idea, what’s the first thing you do with it?
I write it down. When I was younger, I had an old Mead journal composition book that I would use to jot down ideas. Most of them were not groundbreaking, but it kept me motivated to continue ideating, inventing, and innovating. In 2012, I rounded up a few friends and together we launched a small startup around an idea from that journal and had a successful run for a couple of years.
Today, with a hectic business and personal life, including four kids, I’m not as good at keeping that journal up to date, but I never throw away an idea before seriously thinking it through.
What behavior or personality traits do you attribute to your success?
Determination. My will to get things done is what I am most proud of and what I attribute to my success. From small things—like two years ago, I decided to not drink a coke for an entire year just to be healthier even though I’d been a one or two cokes-a-day kind of guy all my life—to bigger things, like when I decided to overload my schedule and take full summer course loads so that I could graduate college early and avoid paying a whole year of tuition in student loans, my determination got me through them both.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Mentoring is by far the most rewarding part of my job. I love solving business challenges with my clients making it very exciting when we deliver a successful project. But nothing compares to the fulfilled sensation I feel when a younger consultant, engineer, or designer learns something through that process and grows professionally. I’ve made mistakes, I haven’t had a perfect career, but I learned and if I can help someone avoid those pitfalls, then it was all worth it.
Which causes are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping the Latinx community advance in the professional workforce. I am a board member for Latino Professionals, a nonprofit that runs programs at the national level such as Latinx Mentors, Latinx Career Center, Latinx Giving as One, and Latinxs in the Board Room.
I am also passionate about STEM in underrepresented communities and therefore volunteer with a local ISD in Houston to encourage middle and high schoolers to think about science, technology, engineering, and math as viable career options for them. I’ve also volunteered with programs such as Junior Achievement, Genesys Works, and Generation USA NETworkIT to do my part in helping young ones reach their goals.