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) Tuesday.
Tony Argote and Alexandra Figueroa were named Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers at HACR's Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers Program in a four-day leadership program that concluded Tuesday with a special awards ceremony and celebratory 10th Anniversary reception at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C.
"The GM family congratulates Tony and Alexandra on this remarkable honor," GM Global Chief Diversity Officer Ken Barrett said. "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 participated in an intensive multi-day leadership development, education, and training program.
"We are very proud of our 10th class of the HACR Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers Program," HACR President & CEO Cid Wilson said. "Each year, this program highlights the future leaders of Corporate America. Over the last 10 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 was 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 Pick-up Trucks. Argote is now part of the Autonomous Vehicles team as the Program Engineering Manager for Autonomous Technologies, while helping to lead STEM initiatives at GM and in the community.
In the summer of 2009, Argote 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."
Alexandra Figueroa, a senior software developer at the Innovation Center in Chandler, Ariz., has made a strong impact in her two short years at GM.
Figueroa 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.
Figueroa was one of the center's first hires, beginning in a temporary facility in Ahwatukee and moving to its permanent location in Chandler six months later.
Alexandra is passionate about creating awareness about STEM careers among Latinas. She 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.