As we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we sat down with our HOLA Affinity Group leaders, Andrea Cordero-Rivera,Associate Chief of Staff, and Maggie Duarte, Revenue Accountant, to discuss their careers, cultures, and how the two interact. HOLA, Hispanic Origin and Latin Americans at Axon, is our newest Affinity Group, dedicated to spreading awareness and celebration of this community.
What has been the proudest moment of your career?
Andrea: My proudest moment was when I made the decision to leave my country, family, friends and everything I’ve ever known to follow my professional dreams. Moving 2,940 miles away from home wasn’t easy, but I felt empowered and determined to do so for myself. This has shaped the way I perform at work and my constant desire to grow.
Maggie: I can’t point to one exact moment, but I do have two Master’s degrees. That’s definitely an accomplishment.
How have your culture and heritage shaped you as a person, including any traditions that hold particular meaning or importance to you?
Maggie: I grew up in a neighborhood that is predominantly Hispanic and on the lower economic spectrum. My grandmother moved to the US when she was in the 3rd grade. Her entire life, she always wanted much more for the younger generation. Raising me, she instilled in me that higher education was the gold standard. In my family, they encouraged me to continue education and they wouldn’t “let” me fail. Whatever it took, they were there to support me all the way.
Andrea: It shapes everything in my life, not only how I behave but also how I interpret, decide, and act in my social reality. My culture has been fundamental in keeping me close to my country, despite the pressures of assimilation while living in the US It is not only about keeping my rituals, norms, and interpretations; it’s also about keeping my feet on the ground every time something comes up. It is the constant reminder of who I am and where I come from.
How are your culture and heritage reflected in your work?
Maggie: As a Hispanic/Latinx person, we usually come from big integrated families. Because of this, I’ve learned to work in the space at Axon with no problem at all! On a serious note, I tend to over-compensate for things and stretch myself too thin to get something done. It’s not for me, but for the group/family as a whole is what’s important.
Andrea: Being Puerto Rican has given me a lot of amazing qualities like working hard, being resilient, and a true passion for collaboration. I was raised being told 'si se puede' and as a result, every project I work on I give my 200% and get extremely passionate.
What is something about your community you would love your coworkers to know?
Andrea: I wish every person knew how important celebrations and holidays are for Hispanic countries. In Puerto Rico we celebrate EVERYTHING, quinceañeras, when your prima comes back home from the US, and my favorite, Navida (Christmas). A typical party around Christmas time starts at 6 am with the preparation of the lechon (pork) and parranda music in the background. While that gets done we make coquito for the entire neighborhood. And the actually party starts at 6 pm, I have so many beautiful memories around this holiday. These gatherings are truly part of our culture.
Maggie: Usually that family is extremely important. I view HOLA as an extended family and I want it to succeed.
Why did you volunteer to lead the HOLA affinity group?
Maggie: As I mentioned earlier, usually Hispanic/Latinx people tend to treat a group or environment as a whole, as family. It’s something similar to “it takes a village...” However, instead of raising a child, we tend to look out for each other as a group, as family. My desire to not let the family fail, to make sure that everyone is included and recognized or supported was so strong, is what prompted me to step up.
Andrea: I am a born and raised Puerto Rican who moved from the island to Arizona after graduating college in PR and I knew the challenges that came with that. I wanted to have a community within Axon to share my traditions and learn from others. I decided to launch HOLA because I knew we had a huge community of Hispanic/Latinx employees who were also looking for that. Someone had to put on the boots and get the job done, so I did and I couldn't be happier.
What is the best piece of advice you have received over the course of your career?
Andrea: “Always do what that makes you happy.” When my mom told me that for the first time I was 10 years old and I’ve applied it to every decision I’ve made since then. I believe it’s extremely important to prioritize happiness and my mental health because without those two...who are we?
Maggie: Always be true to myself, no matter what. I also liked what Jose Villegas, Axon's Senior Director Commercial Controllership recently said during our first HOLA event, to not let my background be a disability, but to use it as leverage in my career.
At Axon, Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) is central to everything we do on our mission to Protect Life — from our products to workplace culture. Axon supports employee Affinity Groups to serve as core pathways for engaging our employees in our JEDI work, while also fostering belonging and professional development for their members. We’re taking bold steps to build for racial equity, diversity and inclusion, and we rely on the diverse perspectives of our employees to help us drive success. At Axon, everyone is a part of the JEDI team — come join us!