Alberto Jiménez has graced the pages of the Wall Street Journal,the Guardian, TechCrunch, CIO Magazine, and more as an expert in both tech, finance, and the intersection between. The vice president of project management currently oversees P&L responsibility for a billion-dollar software portfolio at IBM Business Automation that includes process mining, content services, workflow, and decision management software. The Harvard graduate currently resides in New York City with his wife and two children.
Jiménez shares how he deliberately protects his identity and the importance of conexión.
What do you do today?
Today, I run the IBM Business Automation unit, which is a $1.2 billion software business for IBM. Its mission is to deliver software tools to allow our enterprise clients to augment and scale their workforces via automation.
What was your biggest professional accomplishment over the past year?
From a financial perspective, 2022 was a great year for IBM Business Automation. But if I have to pick the one thing that I am most proud of at work, it would be the feedback I received from my team at the end of the year. We operate in an ultracompetitive marketplace, that changes quickly because of AI technology, but in the middle of all of that, I am very happy of the positive work environment and trust that I have built with my team.
How has your identity and your connection to your culture evolved as your career has progressed?
This is a good question, and something I don’t think enough about. But if I reflect back to when I first joined IBM eighteen years ago, my Hispanic identity is as visible today as it was then.
Let me explain. I was born and grew up in Colombia and moved to the US after college for my first job. When I first started working in the US, my Hispanic identity was my only identity, and by that I mean that all my work colleagues knew that I grew up outside the US, and that meant that I didn’t understand many aspects of the American culture (sports, jokes, etc.)
As time passed and I progressed in my career, my accent became less visible and I gained a better understanding of the culture; I imagine people around me began thinking I had grown up in the US. Now that I have children, I make a deliberate effort to protect my Hispanic identity: we speak Spanish at home, watch fútbol, cook arepas, etc., and I am sure that is very visible at work as well.
What community involvement is important for you outside of your role? How have you seen your own community change during your career?
I have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to be active in my community and have impact at scale. Four years ago, IBM placed me as a board member of Grand St. Settlement, which is a large non-for-profit organization that serves over ten thousand low-income New Yorkers and their families (many of them recent Hispanic immigrants). We offer preschool, afterschool and summer camp, adult job support, and senior services to these families. I am very involved in the organization at all levels, and I couldn’t be prouder of how many lives we transform with our programs.
Outside of that, I am also part of the Harvard Admissions Schools Outreach Committee, through which I serve as liaison between the college and high schools of low-income students and underserved communities in New York City. Our mission is to educate these students and schools about the affordability, accessibility, and inclusivity of Harvard University. This is very rewarding work, and I am still in contact with students that I met in high school that have graduated from Harvard.
The theme of this year’s Leadership Summit is Conexión: a reminder of the cultural connection that bonds Latinos and a call to embrace the exponential power we wield when we move as one. What does conexión mean to you and how has it helped you in your life and career?
I am convinced that my Colombian upbringing has been crucial to any professional success I have had. It gives me a unique perspective that has been invaluable for my career—it is not necessarily a better perspective but rather a different one, and that difference is appreciated by most of the people I work with.
This is the first generation of Latinos who have the potential to see people that look like them in virtually every kind of role and leadership position. Many of us, and those who came before us, had to make our own way and find mentors who may not have shared our experiences. What does mentorship mean to you and how are you passing your own experiences forward?
My mentors have been central to my career—and with many of them I have had a Hispanic connection. I would not be where I am professionally without their advice and support, not even close. Today I am an active mentor for high-potential Hispanics inside and outside of IBM. I am sure, or at least hope, some of them are reading this.