While news in some states can be quite devastating, Michigan´s immigrant population continues to flourish, in particular its Latino professional women.
Last Thursday, December 3rd, the Michigan Chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals for America celebrated its annual “Women of ALPFA event, this time focusing on the topic: “Making an Impact in a Global Society”.
The event took place at Andiamo´s in Bloomfield Township with the participation of a large number of companies around Metro Detroit. ALPFA Michigan President, Rodolfo Dominguez (of Mercedes-Benz Financial services) gave a warm welcome to everyone to this, the 7th Annual Women ALPFA Summit. His company is one of several partners that provide support to ALPFA nationwide in recognition of the intrinsic value of Latino professionals around the United States.
Stefanie Thornton, Director of Talent Acquisition at Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan, served as keynote speaker and moderator during the discussion panel. Stefanie is the director of Corporate Development for ALPFA Michigan and a board member on the Michigan Diversity Council.
This year´s panel was formed by some of the strongest female executives in Metro Detroit, such as Alma L. Guajardo-Crossley, Director of corporate Diversity at General Motors. Director Guajardo-Crossley was selected as one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business in 2011, and as “Latina Trailblazer” by Latino Justice in 2013. In 2015, she earned “The Rare Everyday Hero Award” from Willing Futures, and the Santiago Rodríguez Diversity Award from the Great Minds in STEM Organization. “I like to think of myself as a servant leader”, said Director Guajardo-Crossley during the ALPFA panel discussion.
The panel touched on different leadership styles. The four panelists stressed the importance of being strong inside and commented on the fact that “ALPFA is full of strong women”. The large number of college students present at the event, members of ALPFA’s growing student chapters, listened attentively to the experiences and advice provided by this panel of top women executives.
“If you say you’re going to be there, be there, because people remember… dress for the job you want, not the job you have”, said panelist Jennifer Stafeil, Tax Managing Director of KPMG LLP.
The panel also stressed the importance of social media today, as well as the fact that diversity teams are today the most productive. However, they did point out that companies have difficulty handling cross-cultural issues and diversity even though “the best talent is diverse”.
While discussing diversity and inclusion, panelists mentioned the importance of understanding consumers and how you are perceived. “GM has 12 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) like the ‘Spanish Initiative Team’, said Director Guajardo-Crossley.
“Whatever you do, put on the shoes of the person above you and become indispensable”, advised panelist Kristin Smallwood, Assurance Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Greater Michigan Diversity Market Leader.
Women of ALPFA is dedicated to the professional success of Hispanic women in the US. The program offers training opportunities through professional development curricula, as well as exposure to senior leaders via networking and mentoring opportunities that allow them to reach their desired professional growth.
ALPFA events are sponsored by some of the largest corporations in Metro Detroit. Some of companies represented at this year’s Women of ALPFA event included Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, KPMG, Quicken Loans, MES Consulting Services LLC, PwC, GM, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and others.