By Victoria Cepeda
Joe Echevarria, who is featured on Fortune magazine this month, is not only giving out advise to new college grads, but also promoting the importance of diversity in the workplace. Born to a Puerto Rican family in the South Bronx, Echevarria tells us how he received vital advice from a mentor, who is also Latina, and worked very, very, very hard to become Deloitte’s CEO for their global Consulting & Audit division where his leadership responsibilities extend to approximately 60,000 professionals in nearly 90 U.S. cities and India.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
“I went from being an auto mechanic during the summers in the Bronx to getting hired as an auditor at Haskins & Sells [which later merged with Deloitte] when I graduated from the University of Miami, where I had gone on a scholarship. Back then, to get an interview with a Big 8 firm — it’s now the Big 4 — you were supposed to have a 3.5 GPA. But, because I went to a not-so-great school — it was nicknamed Suntan U. — I had to have a 3.8. So I did that. I was at the top of my class in accounting, so they couldn’t find a reason not to interview me.”
His story is a testament that, despite the stereo types and bias that could hold many of us back at work, with the right mentor, work ethics and attitude we can earn the recognition needed that eventually will give us that break to set ourselves apart in anything we do.
“I would say this: Whatever disadvantages you may have faced up to now, because of your ethnicity, that is all about to change. The fact is that there are not enough talented minority managers, or management-track entry-level people, to reflect the changing demographics of the U.S. population, which by 2050 will be more than half “minorities.” So you are in demand. Deloitte has been steadily increasing recruitment of black and Latino talent, because if we don’t get our share of it now, we won’t be in a good place in the years ahead.”
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