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.
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
“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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you there!