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My Leadership Path as a Second Generation Latino

Luis Benitez
Senior Operations Manager
Salt Lake City, UT
Pronouns: He/Him

Venezuelan and Colombian traditions

My favorite traditions from growing up in Venezuela and Colombia were our Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Every Christmas and New Year’s we’d get two new outfits (one for each holiday). In Venezuela it wasn’t very common to get new clothes or have the ability to buy the latest trends. That meant Christmas and New Year’s were extra special because we got to celebrate in our best attire.

Further, to celebrate New Year’s, we had a tradition where we would wish on grapes. Every person got 12 grapes, one for each month of the year. Then we’d go under the dinner table to make a wish and eat one of the grapes. We always had a big line of people waiting with their grapes, ready to go under the table. Once you came out the other end of the table, you got back in line to do it all over again until all your grapes were gone. We’d do this 12 times to represent a wish for every month of the year. It was fun seeing everyone dancing and having a great time to complete their 12 wishes.

Finding my way

Growing up, my dad was a doctor and my mom was an accountant who also owned her own real estate business. I initially took after my dad and started school to become a physical therapist. At the same time, I started my first job at Discover as a product account manager. As I continued with Discover, I wanted to learn more about business and explore various leadership roles. Those choices led me to my role today. I believe what really inspired me to go after my current job, were the many mentors and impactful leaders I’ve met. Regardless of their experience levels, they’ve all had the passion to support, lead and do the right thing. From them, I’ve received the drive and focus to pay it forward and inspire others by leading with humility.

What it means to be a Latino leader

I’m passionate about development, inspiring future diverse leaders and creating positive, focused energy. As a Latino leader, I’ve found a strong love for my heritage. I joined our HOLA (Helping Organize Latino Achievement) employee resource group (ERG) at Discover as a committee member, co-chair, chair, and executive sponsor. Being part of the ERG has truly given me the opportunity to not only share many great things about the Latinx community, but also meet many individuals that share my same passion.

It’s also provided me a platform to share my own personal experience of being a second generation Latino. During one of our coffee events, I remember the pride I felt when one of the speakers shared that having an accent doesn’t mean you’re not smart or lack confidence. Having an accent shows your sense of bravery. I think there’s plenty more work for us to do to continue to help us create and maintain the amazing culture we have at Discover by sharing our true selves. Discover is providing many great channels and avenues for all its employees to do just that.

 

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