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Carolina Robles a leadership rising star on getting out of your comfort zone

As many immigrants do, Carolina Robles is familiar with family separation issues, the pain of children left behind, and enduring hardship. However, her charismatic, humble, and persistent personality helped her “get out of her comfort zone” to start climbing a stellar leadership ladder, one step at a time.

Carolina Robles At only 26 years of age, Carolina Robles obtained a position as the Director of Recruiting Prospecting and Developing Talent at New York Life Insurance Company, managing talent acquisition for all the offices in the state of New Jersey. She recruits entrepreneurial candidates who are interested in a career in Insurance and Financial Services.

Her versatile strengths are result of her natural talent in reaching broad populations including communities, staff, small business owners and consumers. She is highly motivated on social activities such as outreach programs and leadership initiatives, all combined with integrity, high work ethics and critical skills that deliver strong results.

“I love my role because it allows me to do what I do best, which is to talk to people about these fantastic opportunities in a career in insurance and financial services, while helping them change their lives,” she told LatinasinBusiness.us in an exclusive interview.

However, she was just not given this opportunity. Better yet, she made it happen.

Carolina Robles turns around the immigrant story to achieve success

Born in Cuenca, Ecuador, and raised in La Troncal, Canar. Carolina Robles lived family separation, hardship and distance with her parents at a very young age.

“My parents left to migrate to the United States when I was one year old, leaving my oldest sister and I with our grandmother,” Carolina shared. Although her mother was always present in her life with unconditional love, Carolina built a strong relationship with her grandmother. “Mi ‘abuela’ became my mom and my role model in everything that I do every day,” Carolina said.

At age 16, Carolina arrived to the United States to be reunited with her family. They immediately directed her to finish high school at North Bergen from which she graduated with first Honors in 2009, and enrolled at Rutgers University to pursuit a Bachelor of Science and Allied Health Technology (Cardiac Sonographer).

“My family encouraged me to achieve a position in healthcare, a traditional career for a Latino woman,” she said. Carolina obtained her Bachelors Degree at Rutgers University in May 2016.

“However, I also had a vision of working in the C- suite and possibly having my own business one day,” she remembers. “It was not in me to be in a dark room taking sonograms all day long.”

Her journey started with ALPFA – Newark whose organization encouraged her to volunteer, stay open for opportunities and the most important thing, it provided unlimited paths for her career development. It was that push she needed to embrace her passions and follow the power of networking at the local chapter.

While studying towards her degree full-time at Rutgers University and doing hospital rotations, she obtained a Recruiter/Assistant to the VP Internship with MassMutual NJ/NYC, a General Agency of MassMutual Financial Group.

“Looking back, I now understand that I struggled in pursuing my ‘American Dream.’ After a year of living in the county, I realized that some people did not even believe in it and others just had a different perception about it. Whatever it was, I kept following my heart no matter what!” she enthusiastically said.

To contribute to her family’s economy, Carolina worked in several menial jobs during college. Sometimes she was rejected because her English was not perfect, she remembers. Always willing to get out of her comfort zone, she felt more motivated to study hard and acquire the necessary skills to one day sit at the big shiny table, she assured.

As a result of that driven and ambitious personality, Carolina discovered her tremendous passion as a Recruiter utilizing transferable skills as a tutor in college. In January 2016, she applied and obtained a position as Director of Recruiting at New York Life Insurance Company prospecting and developing talent for three locations in the state of New Jersey.

“I applied for the position six months before I was about to graduate from college. I was determined to reach out to the company’s management to demonstrate my ability and eagerness to learn, while putting at their disposal my skills and natural talent as a recruiter,” Carolina stated.

Motivation sometimes came with pain for Carolina Robles

Carolina Robles Jordan

With Jordan Belford who inspired me to never give up on my dreams and always perceive life as an opportunity no matter what! The wolf on Wall Street at Harvard University.

“In 2014, I had received the very sad news of the passing of my ‘abuela’, who in reality had been my “mother” back in Ecuador. She suffered from diabetes since she was 19. Diabetes is an insidious and unforgiving disease and at that time, I realized that I was not prepared to be working in hospitals. Also, I wanted to honor her memory with a leadership legacy by starting an organization that would follow her guidance and advise, to always do the best of my ability,” she recalls.

That same year, she decided to launch a new personal initiative to lead and empower passionate individuals and help them reach their full potential while inspiring them to create leadership opportunities for a better tomorrow. L.I.F.T (Leaders Initiative for Tomorrow) Empowering Lives was finally born.

She was fortunate to invite a co-founder and two wonderful professionals that added tremendous value to her team. Thanks to her vision, LIFT Empowering Lives is a 501 (c3) organization with the mission to bring awareness to new leaders for a better tomorrow.

“After experiencing this huge change in my life, overcoming my fears by trying something new –such as founding LIFT– kept me going during hard times. I knew that change was not going to be easy, but I followed my heart since September 2014.  I just wanted to do it,” she said.

Carolina’s AHA moment helped her get out of her “comfort zone”

The moment Carolina understood the phrase “be comfortable by being uncomfortable” helped her tremendously in her career. “I knew that investing on me was something I have never done before and I was so excited for its outcome,” she said.  “My brain was fighting constantly to  drag me back to my old habits but listening to Pema Chodron every day helped me change my perceptions,” she shared. “Listening to my mentor’s advice was the perfect medicine for that anxiety and unsecured mentality I was feeling,” Carolina affirmed.

The young leader and eager recruiter soon understood that she needed to start challenging herself to really find out what was missing; then go out of her comfort zone and do something different such as volunteering and/or networking.

She joined ALPFA Association of Latino Professionals For America New Jersey Director of Events assisting chapter with corporate event planning and relationship building, and participated at the Women of ALPFA NYC convention 2015.

Carolina Robles New Yrok Life

“I decided to stop partying every weekend and start taking control of my life, invest in myself and watch how my actions started opening many doors,” she said. “My advice to all our leaders for tomorrow is to work hard, be determined, follow people you admire and never, ever give up,” she concluded.

Carolina was recently inducted into the VIP Women of the Year Circle by the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW), recognized for her professional and philanthropic activities.

She is looking forward to her leadership role at LIFT, and the LinkedIn event “Align your Profile with your Purpose,” the organization is holding on November 3rd in North Bergen, NJ.

“We are going to have a number of great speakers, including Keynote Speaker Eric Di Monte, Senior Talent Acquisition Manager at Univision Communications Inc.; Yai Vargas, National Marketing Manager – Latino Market at New York Life Insurance Company; Troy James, Strategic Engagement Executive-GET Sales at Cisco; Susana Baumann, Editor In Chief at LatinasInBusiness.us and David Martinez, Vice President at BNY Mellon,” Carolina shared.

Please register here for this event, or for more information please email LIFT Empowering Lives at liftempoweringlives@gmail.com. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

How mindfulness meditation changed a Latina entrepreneur’s life

When she was diagnosed with two debilitating diseases, Jayshica Amargos found in mindfulness meditation the therapy to help her change her challenging life. Now she has decided to give back the gift of healing as a Latina entrepreneur.

mindfulness meditation

Jayshica Jay Amargos, founder and chief mindful officer at I’MINDFUL

It might seem a far out way to use this practice to treat the roots of serious diseases that plague our everyday life such as anxiety, worry and fear. Millions are suffering from depression, autoimmune and self-inflicted diseases –such as heart conditions and high blood pressure–, in hospitals or at home, because of the chaos and worry our work and urban hectic life bestow on us.

In truth, many of these conditions could be healed or at least managed properly by practicing mindful-based stress reduction therapy –a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and yoga based on the Buddhism traditions of meditation.

In 2006, Jayshica (Jay) Amargos was diagnosed with depression but it was not until 2012 that her causes of depression were discovered when she was diagnosed with both lupus and fibromyalgia.

She quickly learnt that the available drug treatments of both these disorders were associated with adverse effects and complications. Serendipity struck – Jay had been a regular practitioner of meditation and she discovered that it also helped relieve the pain of lupus and fibromyalgia.

Along this rehabilitation journey, she discovered mindfulness meditation, which had a significant positive impact on her mind and body. Ever since then, mindfulness meditation has been her passion and is an essential component of her life.

“With this practice, I began to understand  human behavior and how it could be used to bring out the best in people,” she told LatinasinBusiness.us. “I truly believe that regular mindfulness meditation practice can change lives and allow everyone to enjoy their journey in a more peaceful, loving and centered way.”

Today, Jay is the co-founder  and chief mindful officer of I’MINDFUL Studio in Arkansas. I’Mindful  was created to guide and support individuals who want to learn the practice of mindfulness meditation to ease the pressures of modern life.

 Jay decides to enter the world of business with mindfulness meditation

Once Jay realized the benefits of this therapy, she decided to learn more about it. She researched the topic, attended seminars, and even took online courses. With her self-feeling better from the ravages of fibromyalgia and lupus, she decided to share it with others.

Practice of mindfulness meditationAnd in April 2016, she opened up a mindfulness clinic  in her hometown of Fayetteville, AR. Within a few weeks of opening, she already had a large following of clients who wanted to learn about the benefits of mindfulness.

Today her clinic  offers guided group meditation, private mindfulness sessions, MINDFUL@ WORK  programs, and programs for children and teens . Her practice is based on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Emotional Balance, Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting, and Mindfulness-Based Resilience Therapy.

“The eventual goal of the program is to lower stress, depression, and anxiety, as well as to improve the quality of life of all my clients,” Jay said. “Studies that address this question are just in, and the answer is impressive: mindfulness really can help workers cope with high levels of psychological distress.”

Obstacles and struggles to overcome in business

Jay was well aware of the difficulties starting a new business venture might bring in a small town.  However, she was not fazed with what could go wrong. Instead, she focused  on all the positives. She had already overcome several serious medical disorders a decade before. At that time her life had crumbled into many pieces.

With mindfulness meditation, she regained her self-esteem, confidence and passion for life –she was now ready to face the world of business.  She prepared and researched the topic well before opening the business. The biggest obstacle was funding and finding a place to offer her practice .

Fortunately, she had solid family support to help her achieve her dreams. Today she feels truly blessed in life, and knows that with her strength, talent and ability to solve life’s every  problem, she can help others succeed.

While her business is still relatively new, it is not too early to foresee the future. She is taking situations as they come,  fully prepared, and is  keeping her options open.

Being mindful about strengths and weaknesses in business

Mindfulness meditation studio

I’MINDFUL Studio

“I have three inherited traits that have played a key role in my success and they include grit, perseverance and compassion,” she explained. “I consider myself to be a problem solver and a life-long learner so I try to incorporate these qualities in everything I do.”

One of the biggest motivator is her 19-year-old autistic son. She is ultimately devoted to the well- being of her son and wants to ensure that he has the best quality of life . Jay stated, “He inspires me every day with his persistence, his hunger for knowledge and for doing things right.”

Jay is grateful that throughout her life, she has been surrounded by people who inspired her. Now she made it a mission to help others.

About Jay’s origins and her previous journey

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Jay moved with her parents to Arkansas in the 80s. Several moves to other states followed before finally settling in Arkansas definitely.

Jay completed her bachelor’s degree in Business in Puerto Rico  and then completed a Masters in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix. Along the way, she worked for several major business organizations but after she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and lupus, she decided to take a break from the business world.

Aside from running her brand new business, she is also a former volunteer with ALPFA, the Association of Latin American Professionals for America, and she was on the board of Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders.  She functions as a mentor for young entrepreneurs and assists them with their career pathways.

“I’m at a point in my life where I have to give back and play a bigger role in the Hispanic community to help it reach its full potential,” she shared. Jay was honored as one of Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Forty under Forty in 2011 and recently honored as one of Celebrate Magazine 16 to Watch in 2016.

You might be interested: Ileana Musa developing ALPFA Latina leaders for a global society

 

Share your questions with Jay on mindfulness meditation or depression here:

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Ileana Musa, Head of Global Client Segment and Strategy at Merrill Lynch.

Ileana Musa developing ALPFA Latina leaders for a global society

Ileana Musa, Head of Global Client Segment and Strategy at Merrill Lynch.

Ileana Musa, Head of Global Client Segment and Strategy at Merrill Lynch.

While traveling to Miami to receive our Hispanicize 2015 TECLA Award, I had the opportunity to meet personally with Ileana Musa for an exclusive interview. Ileana’s remarkable background precedes her: the Head of Global Client Segment and Strategy at Merrill Lynch, she formerly held leadership positions at Bank of America’s Global Wealth & Investment Management (GWIM) Banking group, BankBoston and JP Morgan Chase.

A soft-spoken small attractive Latina, she captivated me with her passion and conviction about the leadership role of Latinas in the corporate world, which speaks for her own story.

Ileana was born in Cuba, and came with her family to the United States in 1971 at the age of three. Raised by her single mom, who always instilled in her the eagerness to succeed through preparation and hard work, Ileana was awarded with a scholarship for her undergrad studies at University of Miami. She then pursued an MBA from Florida International University.  In 2004, she was sponsored for the Executive Development Program at the Kellogg School of Management. Ileana holds FINRA 4, 7, 24, 63 and 65 securities licenses, as well as her Life and Health Insurance license, and is Six-Sigma Greenbelt certified.

“Three years ago, my company encouraged me to represent them at the ALPFA Convention in Orlando. I was so inspired by their mission that I decided to get involved with the organization. Many ALPFA senior leaders impressed me for their aim at empowering Latinos–and specially women– to take the leadership role they deserve in the corporate world,” she said.

ALPFA, the former Association of Latino Professionals in Finances and Accounting, has recently been renamed as the Association of Latino Professionals For America, in a quest to expand their mission and influence to all industries and corporations where Latinos can play a headship role.

She was offered to jump on board joining ALPFA’s National Corporate Advisory Board. Six months later, she became the Chair of Women of ALPFA, the strategic initiative for leadership and empowerment of Latinas in corporate.

“I spent the last three years helping the organization increase its influence, as we launched a national platform for women and members to collaborate and share experiences. The 3-year strategy includes an umbrella theme, ‘Building the Legacy of Latina Leadership,’ with a specific focus for each year: the first year was The Power of Influence; the second, Using the Power of You, and the third one –currently underway–, Making an Impact in a Global Society,” she explained.

WOMEN OF ALPFA Building Impact in Global Society

The idea behind the initiative is to create and develop a competency model in which Latinas at all levels can acquire skills in each topic. The program sustains three tracks, an entry-level track for student Latinas, and mid- and senior-level tracks for those waiting in the pipelines.

Another important goal of the program was to conduct activities at a local level to encourage Latinas’ participation and attract corporate sponsors. With 135 university chapters and 43 professional chapters across the country, Women of ALPFA promoted the importance of Latina leadership by exploring these topics through a series of events that included panel discussions, presentations and networking. It was also an opportunity to provide its 23,000 members with a relevant voice.

“It was very important to work locally to convoke Latinas so they bring others along in every city. The program has three strategic pillars that are instrumental to their success: how we continue to develop Latina leaders in the workplace; how we connect these women; and how we leverage the Women of ALPFA brand so that companies can attract and retain Latino talent,” she said.

Ileana believes one of the most imperative aspects of the initiative is to connect Latino women, who bring extraordinary experience to the table.

“There is vast experience out there and many stories that need to be connected so we can help one another,” she noted. With the support of Charles Garcia, recently named ALPFA’s CEO, and Lori Ruff, Chief Brand Evangelist, the organization brings extraordinary value to corporate sponsors around the nation.

Ileana sustains that these corporate sponsors are very eager to engage because they understand that developing this talent will only reflect of their gain in Hispanic/Latino market share and employee retention.

Ileana Musa, Head of International Credit & Banking, Bank of America and Indhira Arrington, SVP, Diversity and Inclusion, Bank of America, receiving her Latina Style Magazine award.

Ileana Musa, Head of International Credit & Banking, Bank of America and Indhira Arrington, SVP, Diversity and Inclusion, Bank of America, receiving a Latina Style Magazine award.

“When corporate sponsors send their employees to an ALPFA event, and they experience a conference or summit for the first time, they become much more connected to their companies. They better understand the opportunities that might lie in front of them and become more committed to make them happen. It is really a win-win situation,” she shared.

Although Latinas are still sorely under-represented in the C-suite and under-recognized in corporate America, Cuban-born Ileana believes the future holds great possibilities for Latinas. “I believe that, as Latinas, we bring uncommon skills to the table. In addition to our technical and professional competence, we are naturally endowed with a special set of soft skills related to our understanding of a global culture, our creativity, our willingness to collaborate and to be inclusive in getting the work done,” she concluded.

Verve-Brand-Ambassadors-Flash-mob

Social media meets corporate: Become a Brand Ambassador

Verve-Brand-Ambassadors-Flash-mob

Brand Ambassadors have been around for many years – and they are everywhere. Visit any industry convention, sporting event, concert, or street fair and you will see the Brand Ambassadors working the floor. They are the high-energy men and women handing out samples, answering questions, passing out bumper stickers, and taking pictures with passers-by, among other activities.

Brand Ambassadors are everywhere because they work. They take the multi-million dollar corporations and put a human face on them. They are the smile, handshake, helpful answer, and compliment consumers remember when they think of the brand. But the best part about Brand Ambassadors is that they are ordinary people. They are effective because People Do Business With People!

Every company has a cadre of Brand Ambassadors ready for deployment. This group of people is called employees! Traditional Brand Ambassadors are required to have knowledge of the company history, its products, its culture, and its values. These are exactly the same things that employees already know – and live – each day. Danielle Molle, Principal and Marketing Director at Brand M Consulting LLC agrees. According to Molle, “Brand Ambassadors are huge to a company’s success – and the smaller the company, the more important they are.”

Organizations seeking to scale the benefits of social media must create a framework that treats every employee as a Brand Ambassador. Organizations should invest the necessary time and money to train and unleash their armies of influencers. With institutional knowledge in one hand and social media skills in the other, employees can act as the greatest form of Brand Ambassador.

Lori Ruff, ‎Chief Brand Evangelist, ALPFA.org,  LinkedIn & Social Media Authority, Advocating Transformative Professional Change

Lori Ruff, ‎Chief Brand Evangelist, ALPFA.org, LinkedIn & Social Media Authority, Advocating Transformative Professional Change

Employee = Brand Ambassador = Influencer = Brand Evangelist

Similar to the old school Brand Ambassadors working a convention floor, today’s social media-enabled Brand Ambassadors also represent the organization to the outside world. Today, social media has enabled Brand Ambassadors to use tools such as social networks, blogs, and other forms of social media to conduct their influencing activities.

Instead of relying solely on senior members of the organization to influence the marketplace through press releases, media interviews and other appearances, organizations can empower employees to go out and evangelize on behalf of the organization. Another important consideration is that the general public trusts its peers much more than it does a company CEO or other high-ranking company official. This makes employees much more influential than the highly paid CEO.

According to Tom Blackett in Brands and Branding (Bloomberg Press, 2009), “when employees are excited by the proposition they will help to sustain it and communicate it to customers, suppliers and others through their enthusiasm and commitment.” Therefore, to the extent that an organization can properly motivate its employees to act as Brand Ambassadors, employees can become an incredibly effective tool for influencing stakeholders. The maintenance of a strong cadre of Brand Ambassadors will result in a stronger brand, improved customer satisfaction, increased revenue, and strong financial results.

According to blogger Mike Bailey (“Beyond Engagement: Unleashing the Power of Employee Advocacy), “on average, when employees share something with their social networks, each one reaches 20 times more people than a typical brand sharing with the same number of followers.” This makes employee Brand Ambassadors not only a good idea, but a profitable idea.

Chief Brand Ambassador

Susana G Baumann, LIBizus (L)  with Nelly Galan, Adelante Movement, Brand Ambassador for Coca- Cola (R)

Susana G Baumann, LIBizus (L) with Nelly Galan, Adelante Movement, Brand Ambassador for Coca-Cola (R)

An effective social media-enabled Brand Ambassador Program requires a champion at the highest level of the organization. Effective Brand Ambassador programs that rely on the organization’s employees must have the owner, CEO, or some other top ranking individual act as the CBA, or Chief Brand Ambassador.

The Chief Brand Ambassador must ensure that the organization gives more than just lip service to the Brand Ambassador Program. The Chief Brand Ambassador must invest appropriate resources into the program, expect results from the program, hold people accountable for results, integrate the program into the organization’s overall sales and marketing strategy, and acknowledge the program as vital to the success of the organization. The Chief Brand Ambassador must believe that social media combined with employee ambassadors can create an intangible asset that can produce very tangible results.

In order for the social media-enabled Brand Ambassador Program to succeed the organization’s leaders must believe in the power of social media. An organization that treats social media as a fad or a waste of time will have a difficult time convincing employees of its power to influence and will not achieve success.

However, Parker Hannifin‘s Wendy Soucie, Global eBusiness Social Media Manager, warns about expecting too much too quickly. Soucie believes that expecting immediate accountability and results “is great for an advanced organization heading down the social business path, but for those early in their organizing, resourcing, and planning stages, jumping on Brand Ambassador programs before you have elevated the entire organization could be a nightmare. Especially if they do not have the resources of people to watch and listen to know when something heads south.”

The Chief Brand Ambassador, therefore, must expect results and assign accountability, but only after ensuring that the effort is in qualified hands and that an adequate road map and foundation has been established to ensure organizational success.

Panel “Uncap Your Happiness” presented by Coca-Cola at Hispanicize 2015 including celebrities such as Maria Celeste, Host of Telemundo “Al Rojo Vivo;” Nataly Arias, Women’s Colombian National Team Soccer Player; and Nelly Galan, The Adelante Movement.

Panel “Uncap Your Happiness” presented by Coca-Cola at Hispanicize 2015 including celebrities such as Maria Celeste, Host of Univision “Al Rojo Vivo;” Nataly Arias, Women’s Colombian National Team Soccer Player; and Nelly Galan, The Adelante Movement.

 

(This is an excerpt from a post published on LinkedIn Pulse on April 2014)