Senior Talent Acquisition Manager Johanna Calderón reflects on family values and showing up with authenticity
Hispanic Heritage Month
What aspects of Hispanic culture do you remember being a big part of your childhood in your family, and how have those influenced who you are today?
Many things come to mind – family values are so important in Hispanic/Latin cultures. I remember frequent family gatherings. Family members and friends would cook and bring their special dishes so there was always an abundance of food to enjoy. We listened to music, danced, told stories, and laughed a lot. To this day, we still find time to come together as a family any opportunity we get.
Music was a significant part of my childhood. We listened to music during gatherings, while cooking, and probably the most memorable was waking up to the sounds of music that would announce it was time to clean! The tradition lives on because my kids know it too.
Respect and treating people with dignity is a strong value that was instilled as a child and one that I pass on to my children. Lastly, I am incredibly grateful that I never lost my native tongue despite coming to the U.S as a child. The fact that I can communicate and connect with people from all over Latin America in Spanish, my native language, is so precious!
Are there any lesser-known aspects of your own unique Hispanic culture you would love people to know more about?
Ecuador was the first Latin American country to grant women the right to vote in 1929. Since then, there’s been an impressive women’s rights movement to continue fighting for equality, which is inspiring.
Ecuador has different regions – La Costa (coastal lowlands), La Sierra (Andean Highlands), and El Oriente (Amazon Rainforest) and Galapagos. The language/dialect, customs, and food can vary from region to region.
And did you know that Ecuador is the home to the closest point on planet earth to space!? Super cool. Mount Chimborazo’s peak is the furthest point from earth (Mount Everest wins the title if it's measured from sea level).
There’s a growing movement for employees to feel free to “bring your whole self to work.” How do you try to do that when thinking about your heritage and culture?
People want to feel like they can be their authentic selves without feeling like they must simulate, or have to code switch, to fit into a specific box of what is viewed as acceptable. I believe people gravitate toward authenticity, and being true to who are is valuable. But I also believe that recognizing your audience and the message you are trying to convey is critical to impacting true change. For me, this viewpoint has evolved over time. Today I feel more empowered to be myself because I know who I am and the type of person I want to be, which are grounded by my values, my pride in my story, my roots, my Latinidad.
With cooking being such an important part of Hispanic culture, what’s your all-time favorite Hispanic “comfort food”?
So hard to answer this question because I just love food! But my favorite Ecuadorian dish has to be a toss-up between ceviche (most people have had a variation of it because it’s so popular) and guatita (my aunt makes the best!) with white rice. Delicious!
What advice would you give (en español, si usted gusta!) to other Hispanic people considering entering the tech industry?
¡Muy buena pregunta! La comunidad Hispana/Latina es maravillosa y quieren ayudarse uno al otro superarse. Yo les aconsejaría que hagan conexiones con otros latinos en la industria de tecnologíca tanto en persona como a travez de redes sociales . LinkedIn es una buena plataforma que debe ser utilizada. Tambien, que investiguen organizaciones que valoran y demuestran diversidad porque probablemente tendrán una mentalidad más abierta para reconocer y apreciar diferentes experiencias diferentes más allá de industria. Igualmente, es importante poder recibir e implementar recomendaciones, al igual que poder reconocer y elaborar claramente tus puntos fuertes. ¡Tenemos mucho que ofrecer!
Johanna Calderón is a Senior Talent Acquisition Manager at SmartBear, based in the Somerville office.