Latino Traffic Report has learned that two GM young Latino professionals—a software developer and an automotive engineer—were among 35 young professionals recognized nationally for their leadership by the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR).
Tony Argote and Alexandra Figueroa were named Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers (YHCA) at HACR’s Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers Program, a four-day leadership program that concluded Tuesday with a special awards ceremony and celebratory tenth anniversary reception at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C. They were the only STEM professionals from the auto industry.
“The GM family congratulates Tony and Alexandra on this remarkable honor,” said Ken Barrett, GM global chief diversity officer. “Latino engineers and IT professionals are vital to the future of our industry. Their accomplishments can serve as an example and an inspiration for other Latinos.”
The annual program recognizes young Hispanics at Fortune 500 and/or HACR Corporate Member companies who are selected from a competitive application process after being nominated by their companies. Once selected, the young executives participate in an intensive multi-day leadership development, education, and training program.
“We are very proud of our tenth class of the HACR Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers Program,” asserted Cid Wilson, HACR president and CEO. “Each year this program highlights the future leaders of Corporate America. Over the last ten years, many of the past HACR YHCA participants have gone on to become corporate executives at Fortune 500 companies with some serving on corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies.”
Son of Cuban immigrants, Argote is the first in his family to obtain a college degree. He started his career at GM in 2005, when he arrived as a student participating in the cooperative education program through the Georgia Institute of Technology. After his first assignment working on the corporate fuel economy model, he worked on vehicle electrification, and then development of the next generation of full size light duty pickup trucks. Now part of the autonomous vehicles team as the program engineering manager for autonomous technologies, Argote helps lead STEM initiatives at GM and in the community.
In the summer of 2009, he helped found Green Place Detroit, a non-profit organization focused on volunteering after school and on weekends at a predominantly Hispanic middle and high school in Southeast Detroit. The program focuses on demonstrations of STEM and sustainability concepts through building and maintaining an urban garden.
“I’m honored to join the ranks of all the great Latinos who have received this recognition,” Argote said. “I am grateful to GM and to the HACR board for all they do to develop young professionals’ leadership skills and introduce us to a network of professionals who are committed to promoting Hispanic empowerment.”
Figueroa, a senior software developer at the Innovation Center in Chandler, Ariz., has made a strong impact in her two short years at GM. She moved from Puerto Rico in 1999 to earn a master’s degree in computer science at DePaul University in Chicago. She made her way to Arizona where General Motors was opening one of four new innovation centers in the country in 2014.
Passionate about creating awareness about STEM careers among Latinas, Figueroa leads the Hispanic Initiative Team in Chandler and is also involved in recruiting efforts around the country and at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She frequently leads STEM workshops in her community and a few weeks ago, she helped open a technology center in Phoenix for underprivileged Latino youth.
“As a Latina in IT, I am gratified and humbled to receive this recognition,” Figueroa said. “I do everything I can to inspire other Latinos to go into STEM fields of study or a STEM career. It is my hope that this recognition helps further that message even further.”
To qualify for the HACR YHCA Program, candidates must be of Hispanic origin, between the ages of 25–40 at the time the award is received, and must also be employed at Fortune 500 and/or HACR Corporate Member companies. Finalists are selected based on their demonstrated leadership qualities, achievements within their respective corporations, and proven commitment to the Hispanic community.