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Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15th to October 15th – a month to celebrate the history and diversity of Hispanic cultures. This year’s theme, “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope,” invites us to reflect on how great our tomorrow can be if we hold onto our resilience and hope. It encourages us to remember all the contributions Hispanic and Hispanic-American people made in the past and will continue to make in the future. It’s also a reminder that we are stronger together.
This month at Cadent, we spoke with some of our Hispanic colleagues to learn more about who they are, their experiences in and out of the workplace, and what Hispanic Heritage Month means to them.
Patricia Van Nostrand has been with Cadent for more than four years, watching the business take shape into the company we are today. A proud Argentinian and Cuban, Patricia has sought ways to build a stronger community for her Hispanic peers, in the workplace and beyond.
To learn more about Patricia, check out our Q&A below.
The following interview has been lightly edited and condensed.
Tell us about your role
My title is SVP, Business Operations. That means that I focus on operational evolution, helping our teams drive change and innovation by leveraging technology. For example, as we evolve as a platform company, many teams are involved in the overall workflow in the business. We identify what information is key across teams and unify how that’s tracked and communicated inter-departmentally. The speed at which it happens, and the accuracy, eliminates error and allows us to scale.
What does it mean to you to be a woman of Hispanic descent, and what does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Growing up in an Argentinian and Cuban household, I was encouraged to be a strong-minded and outspoken woman; to “Always speak up when you’re passionate about something.”
My parents came to the U.S. as young adults, knowing little to no English and neither having graduated from college. They worked hard, found opportunities to excel, and put three kids through college – a huge accomplishment from where they came from – being “tired” wasn’t in their vocabulary. I never self-analyzed until adulthood, why I was (am) kind of obsessed with “succeeding,” whatever that means – it’s the immigrant family work ethic. Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the many individuals and families who came to the United States for a better life – the American Dream.
Hispanic Heritage Month means an opportunity for representation, celebrating our culture and all that it brings. It’s a very passionate culture – lively music, colorful food, and a fiery zest for life! I try to bring that same energy to work every day and help people I work with smile more. One of my favorite things about being Hispanic is being bilingual. It has allowed me to break barriers and build multicultural relationships both in my personal and professional life.
Do you have any favorite movies, books, music, or other cultural inspirations from Hispanic creators?
Growing up, we always had music playing in the house. Argentine Tango for barbecues and Salsa while we were cooking, organizing, or celebrating birthdays. Latin music is a huge part of my life. Carlos Vives, Fonseca, and Maluma are some of my favorites. The lyrics in Spanish can be so eloquently written, but unfortunately, the translation to English doesn’t do it justice. It still gets everybody moving regardless of whether you even know the words!
What do you feel helps to foster a culture of inclusion? How have you seen those behaviors and practices successfully put into action?
I’m beginning to see a transition – in how people are participating and in the sheer number of conversations being had around inclusion. Organizations are now more open to listening to how people have been impacted by exclusion – unintentional or not – and more importantly, leadership is acknowledging that creating a safe space for employees to share is a must. I know people who have had the opportunity to share their experience feel heard and that’s all some people need. Ultimately, we all need to internalize that feedback, adjust our mindset and behaviors, and make clear what we are no longer willing to accept.
What challenges do you feel are faced by the Hispanic and Hispanic-American community today and what growth do you hope to see in the future?
I think there are a lot of stereotype molds that need to be broken. In my experience, there’s also a close-mindedness as to what a Hispanic or Latina woman is “supposed” to look like – and some of these judgments happen within our own community. So, to break these stereotypes, there is a lot of mentorship and sponsorship that needs to happen for the women coming behind us. We need to provide more access to the Hispanic community, and I personally am making it a mission of mine.