Comprising over 19% of the U.S. population, and with 5 million businesses and increasing purchasing power, Latino and Hispanic communities are a vital part of the country’s economy. To celebrate this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, we sat down with Silvana Montenegro, Global Head of Advancing Hispanics & Latinos at JPMorgan Chase, to hear how her family’s heritage influenced her career, discuss the community’s challenges and opportunities and get her advice on what young professionals can do to grow their careers.
How did your family’s heritage influence your life and ultimately your career?
Growing up surrounded by family and community in São Paulo, I learned the value of hard work and persistence to achieve my dreams. My father and grandmother were role models who inspired me to pursue a career where I could voice the needs of others and create opportunities for all. The values they instilled in me ultimately helped me to relate and advocate for others. As a person of Brazilian and Latin American heritage, I am most proud of the resilience and humanity of the Latino and Hispanic communities across the world, positive and optimistic despite obstacles, and the relentless pursuit of dreams through hard work and helping others along the way. I am proud that through these values, Hispanics and Latinos have made and continue to make tremendous contributions to the world – from driving economic growth through business, to science, music, and education, just to name a few. I think it’s important to show up with determination and authentically to overcome obstacles and create your own vision of success.
What would you want people to know or understand about being Hispanic or Latino?
It is important to understand that Hispanics and Latinos are a growing demographic full of rich experiences and cultures representing over 20 Latin American countries. Our community is a powerful socioeconomic engine within our society globally. Our historic contributions and recent data tell a beautiful story of resilience and growth: as an example, we are the youngest demographic in the U.S., with $2.8 trillion in GDP and an increasing purchasing power — representing nearly one-quarter of all U.S. businesses. Ancient civilizations like the Incas and the Mayans were amongst the most advanced in history. Some of the important world inventions like color TV and the hot air balloon came from Latin America. Telling the full story is key to build together and tackle the historical headwinds we face as a community.
Tell us about your work and impact of Advancing Hispanics & Latinos at JPMorgan Chase. What are some of the ways in which this initiative is helping the community?
The work of JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Hispanics & Latinos centers on helping students, employees, entrepreneurs and communities access opportunities to grow and succeed. We do this by providing career growth support, financial health education, as well as resources and tools to scale minority-owned businesses and advance communities. As an example, this year we partnered with the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation to host a series of financial health education workshops for high schools and college students through live and virtual sessions. We also launched a partnership with the Latino Business Action Network to provide Latino entrepreneurs with in-person and virtual programming including workshops on how to leverage corporate supplier diversity programs and business roundtables. Our efforts support the firm’s $30 billion Racial Equity Commitment to help close the racial wealth gap by investing in promoting a pathway to homeownership, affordable housing, entrepreneurship and more. We are proud of the milestones we have achieved and look forward to the work ahead to support our community.
What are some of the role models that influence your career and what advice would you give to aspiring young professionals who are working to grow and defy barriers?
Throughout my life I had many role models, all of them with some important traits in common – resilience, persistence and courage. Someone that always inspired me was Frida Kahlo. Talk about overcoming adversity, embracing her roots and expressing herself authentically through her colorful art. Like Frida, it is important that we know what is true and meaningful to ourselves and embrace it. We need to be attuned to what drives and motivates us at different stages of our career, and whatever we choose to do we need to work hard and perform with excellence. Persistence and being open to feedback are also important, no career is a straight line to the top. There are ups and downs, and the more we learn from our mistakes, the better prepared we will be for future challenges. Last but not least, it is important to ask for what we want and have the courage to take on challenges that may seem ‘scary’ at first. In my mind, there is no real failure – every challenge is an opportunity to grow.
How is JPMorgan Chase celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month this year?
We are hosting events and programming throughout the month and all year round focused on supporting financial health for students, parents and communities. We are also sharing stories of inspiring Latinos(as) executives, employees, customers, clients and community members working to make a difference. Additionally, we are providing employees with opportunities to make a difference in the community through volunteerism. I look forward to celebrating our collective impact, joining the events to come later this month and continuing the work ahead.
For information about JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Hispanics & Latinos initiatives, visit jpmorganchase.com/AHL.
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