107 : 1st Gen Professional (w/ Jorge Corral)

On today’s show, Zach sits down with Jorge Corral, Accenture’s Office Managing Director for Dallas/North Texas. He speaks about his experiences as a first-generation professional and what fuels his passion for Latinx representation in the STEM fields, and he also shares three points of advice for Latinx professionals.

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TRANSCRIPT

Zach: What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach with Living Corporate, and look, if you didn’t hear the last time or the last time before the last time, I gotta share something with y’all, okay? Living Corporate has partnered with Accenture to feature some of their most experienced black and brown North American managing directors to share their journeys. My hope is that you check these out and you peep the links in the show notes to learn more about each of them, including our next guest, Jorge Corral. Jorge Corral is the Accenture office managing director for the Dallas/North Texas region. He is the global lead for Accenture’s sourcing and procurement business for the products industry and also leads Accenture’s Southwest retail practice. Hold on. So look, he got both of these places, right? He got both of ’em, okay? Jorge serves as a senior business advisor to many senior global Fortune 500 executives and has helped a wide variety of large retail and consumer goods companies to drive top-line growth and to improve their profitability through transformational change. He has spoken as an expert at various retail, shared services, inclusion and diversity, and procurement conferences. He is a board member of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the Dallas Regional Chamber. Jorge was recently profiled in the DCEO Magazine list of the most powerful business leaders in Dallas-Fort Worth. Listen, the most powerful business leaders. Not the most powerful Latinx business leaders, not the most powerful leaders of color. One of the most powerful business leaders period, okay? Check that out. Sound Man, go ahead and give me them air horns for that right there. [air horns sfx] You know what I’m saying? And no disrespect to the–you know, making sure that you have the specifications around identity, but what I’m saying is he’s just cold, right? He’s just–he’s that guy, okay? [laughs] In 2018, Jorge was recognized as one of the top minority business leaders by Dallas Business Journal and was also a finalist for D Magazine’s 2018 Latino Executive of the Year. With that being said, the next thing you’ll be hearing is the interview I had with Jorge Corral.

[pause]

Zach: And like I said right before the break, we have Jorge Corral with us. Jorge, how are you doing? Welcome to the show.

Jorge: Thank you. Thanks for having me, Zach. It’s a pleasure.

Zach: Man, it’s a pleasure all mine, trust that. So, you know, I just want to go ahead and just give a little bit of cheers–[children applause sfx]–for the fact that you’re here. We appreciate that. For those of us who don’t know you, would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself?

Jorge: Yeah. My name is Jorge Corral. I’m the Dallas office managing director at Accenture, which means I lead an office of more than 2,000 people in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, and my job is to really bring the services of Accenture and everything Accenture has to offer to solve business problems for our Dallas clients. And it’s also about connecting Accenture more broadly to the DFW community. I also work in Accenture’s management consulting practice, helping companies transform their businesses in different ways. I studied engineering and have two graduate degrees in mechanical engineering, and I also have a master’s in business administration. And on a personal level, I have four kids and a wonderful wife. I was raised in a large Hispanic family in California, in Southern California to be specific. I was raised with five awesome siblings in a very large extended family, and frankly I think that’s what set me up for success in the world I live in now, in consulting, because at the end of the day consulting is all about relationships, and I certainly learned plenty about relationships and relationship skills growing up in a big extended family.

Zach: That’s incredible. So, you know, you’re talking about the fact that you came from relationships, and then that–and like you said, that translates into the relationships you now manage, not only internally within your Dallas office, but also externally in your community building and relationship building, which we’re gonna talk about today. But, you know, you had a bunch of flexes within your bio. You talked about your professional background. You talked about your educational background. You talked about your family. You know, I can’t really say congratulations on every single thing ’cause, you know, we only have, like, 30, 45 minutes, but I can drop some air horns. So let me just go ahead and–[air horns sfx]

Jorge: [laughs] You are too nice. Thanks.

Zach: No, no, it’s not a problem at all. Now, in an interview with The Business Journals last year, you talked about better integrating the Accenture Dallas office with the Dallas community, and you expounded on some corporate partnerships that you helped build and amplify. Can you share more about the role of influence and relationships that they play in an executive position, particularly as a member of the Latinx community?

Jorge: Yeah, I mean, I–I’ll share to begin with that I like to live by one of the principles I learned from many people along the way, including my parents, and that’s I really believe we’re all responsible for making the world a better place, today and for the future. So for me, I personally didn’t get to where I am by accident. I got a lot of help, directly and indirectly, along the way, and I recognize that many people broke a path so that I could have my opportunities. So I’m happy to find a way to give back, and in my Accenture role, you know, I’m really lucky and truly fortunate to be able to give back in different ways. So an example, over the last couple of years I’ve been able to join the board of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and two years ago, we, Accenture, were able to commit to being the presenting sponsor of their Social Innovation Accelerator program. That really helps accelerate and mentor new non-profits that are providing support for our communities in different ways and solving problems that are around education, income, and health for our DFW community. So I’ve also been able to speak to Latinos on various platforms is another thing that I’ve had the opportunity to do, and that’s both internally and externally. So internally as part of the Hispanic-American employee resource group leadership and externally at places like the University of Texas-Arlington’s Center for Mexican-American Studies, where I’ve gotten just a lot of reward from being able to mentor Hispanic youth with a lot of promise. And I also have had the chance in the local community to serve on different panels, and one of the panels that I’m able to serve on from time to time is, you know, where we bring in 200+ middle school and high schoolers, and I just share some of my life stories and my life experiences up on the stage. And it’s less about the story I tell you and more about sometimes when you’re young, just looking up on the stage and seeing somebody that looks like you, sounds like you, that alone makes things possible. So I’m happy to give back in whatever way I can.

Zach: Jorge, that’s all facts. You’re absolutely right, you know? It’s interesting, because for me, you know, I thought about getting into consulting, and I–for me, I didn’t even know it was something possible until I was in college and I just happened to see a black man who told me he worked at Accenture. And I was like, “What is–” You know, “What is that?” Right? And it went from something, you know, abstract and kind of esoteric to something actually very practical and possible, right? So 100% agree there. And speaking a little bit more about sharing your story, right? You came from humble beginnings as a son of Mexican immigrants. So not only you are a first-generation corporate professional, you’re also a first-generation American as well. So what do you think are some experiences that are exclusive to first-generation Americans of color, and what advice do you have for those who are also the first in their family to really enter corporate America?

Jorge: Well, I’ll say that’s a big, big question. I’ll share my–I’ll share my life story and a little bit about myself in hopes that, you know, some of that would–people could relate to it and maybe get something out of it. So I would just say that I feel really lucky and privileged in my background, because I’m part of a connected, large, loud, proud, loving, bilingual, bi-cultural family, and for me that is–I can’t imagine a different life for myself. And for me I was very lucky

’cause I had very good role models. Like a lot of immigrants, my parents had an ambitious vision and were willing to put in a lot of hard work and invest the bulk of their lives so that their kids could have big, big opportunities. My parents were big, big into education as the way to advance us, and they sacrificed a lot for me. And, you know, in a lot of ways they didn’t just talk about it, they lived it. So I’ll tell you a quick side story. My mom went back to college at age 40 when I was 12 years old with six kids at home and a part-time job. So, you know, you can’t imagine a better role model, right? And I also had smart, ambitious siblings who helped me too. So, you know, I’ve been really lucky in a lot of ways with my family life, and I’m also really grateful ’cause I’ve got a lot of help from different mentors along the ways in different ways and different ones over time. People helped me as I went through my education. People helped me as I entered the workplace and continue to help me, and I’ve been lucky to navigate the workplace because a lot of times–a lot of times you just don’t know, and if you’re first-generation and you’re learning as you go, a lot of times you just need a little help with navigating. And, you know, we talked about before with sometimes just seeing somebody out there that’s done it before that looks like you is helpful, but it’s also–and it’s also helpful for people to just give you a little bit of coaching along the way and tell you–maybe it’s just a little nugget of information, maybe it’s just a little bit of support, but all of those things kind of add up to a lot. So I would just say–when you ask me some of the different things, I’ll just share a couple. First, I do think you need to be willing to work hard and also be willing to adapt to new things when you’re going through experiences new. So if you’re first-generation, things are new, and you just have to adapt and be flexible, and it’s hard to be at first, so you just need to try to do your best to be the best you can, and then learn fast in terms of school, work, whatever. And then, as I mentioned, just get help along the way and really ask for help. And then second, I think you have to be tenacious, and maybe sometimes even a bit stubborn, and not let things get in the way, ’cause there’s times when maybe you get frustrated or discouraged, but one thing I learned from my parents was not to give up, and I think it’s a strength of our culture and just the immigrant culture in general.

Zach: Man, I love that, and I–you know, it’s interesting, because, you know, you’re talking about immigrant culture, and you keep alluding to your family–and I love that, Jorge. That’s so dope. You know, Living Corporate really is a space for black and brown professionals in the workplace, but transparently–I’m just keeping it a buck with you, right? Like, we have had some challenges in engaging minorities that are not a member explicitly of the African diaspora, right? So, like, what advice would you have for how black and Latinx professionals can be better allies and supporters for one another in the workplace? I mean, is there any–one, of course, any insights you have directed to that, but then have you had any experiences within your ERG on how you work with other ERGs at Accenture and how y’all practice community or allyship there?

Jorge: Yeah. I mean, I think I would just begin by saying a lot of people of color–people of color share some experiences. Not all experiences, but a lot of experiences. I think we all would agree that we need a diverse world where everyone participates and feels included, but I think we all know that that’s not always the world we live in. And it’s hard to feel successful when you feel excluded. So I do think that while different groups are different in their own way, many of the experiences are similar, and there’s a lot to learn from each other, and we all need to help each other. I would say in my life I’ve learned, and maybe had to learn, that everyone is different in their own way, but when you’re a kid–you know, when I think back on it, on my childhood, when you’re a kid you just want to fit in and not be different, and that follows you in different ways throughout your life, but I would also say that over time you grow and you learn, and I’ve learned that what makes you different is really what makes you special. But even today, I mean, if I’m being honest, if I’m being real with you, at times I find myself in situations where I look and sometimes feel different from everyone else, and when I do I remind myself that everyone, regardless of who you are, where you come from or what you look like, sometimes feels isolated, excluded, removed, alone, and it’s simply a shared human experience. But it feels very–very personal. So in those moments I need to get past it, and so we all need constant reminders and maybe some help to remember, particularly if you’re a person of color. So, you know, at Accenture I’m fortunate to work at a place, at a company, that’s a leader in the market around inclusion and diversity, and we spend a lot of time collaborating across the African-American and the Hispanic-American ERGs so that everyone can learn from each other. We have summits together, and I like to think we share pretty well and help each other.

Zach: [Flex bomb sfx] Just a light Flex bomb. Nothing too crazy. I love that. You’re absolutely right, right? Like, when you–and the reason why I ask is because I think it’s easy for us, in our differences, to sometimes, like, huddle up, and then in those huddles we then create, like, factions, and we kind of miss the point, right? Like, ultimately, all of us–while, yes, the experiences are not uniform by any means, we have a lot of shared experiences, and it’s in those experiences that really should create some empathy that we have for one another. And I–you know, and I think that’s really, really powerful. So you’re passionate about Latinx representation within STEM, and you’ve alluded to some of that at the beginning when you talked about yourself a bit. What fuels your passion in this space?

Jorge: Yeah. I mean, I’ll just–I reflect on my life and, you know, unfortunately, many times in my life I’ve been one of the few or maybe the only Latino in many work, school, and professional situations, and I’m encouraged because over time I like to think it’s gotten better, and now when I look at the people we’re recruiting into Accenture, there’s more people that look like me, and there’s more people that come from diverse backgrounds. But it’s not enough, you know? We’re not there yet. And rest assured we’ll continue to push for better representation, more diversity, more equality, et cetera, and it’s important because we know when it comes to STEM that STEM jobs are one of the fastest-growing segments with a lot of opportunity, and STEM businesses are also influencing our society, but when you open up a business or tech magazine you still see very few Latinos, and as I’ve said, for us to grow and solve our world’s problems, we need everyone to be included. So yeah, I think it’s really important. I think STEM’s really important, and for me, having a STEM education has helped me in many ways and I think opened the door to many of the opportunities that I have. So I want that for my community and for our extended communities.

Zach: I love that, and if you could give three points of advice to Latinx professionals–just three big ones, ’cause I know you have a ton of experiences and insight and just points of success and things that you’ve done, but if you could boil all of that into, like, three nuggets, what would they be?

Jorge: I’ll give you three that come to mind, and I think these would probably change if you ask me tomorrow, or they may be nuanced or different a little bit, but I just think–the first one I would say is something I try to remind myself, and that’s “just think bigger.” I think we all limit ourselves. We limit ourselves in, you know, our day-to-day lives. We limit ourselves in our long-term goals, and I think we all just need to remember to think bigger. You can do more than you think you can. I think–I shared earlier one of the big things that I’ve learned and live by is just to be tough and keep going. Sometimes just being stubborn and having a goal and just keep pushing for it is the important thing. Just be tenacious. And then finally I would just say remember to give back as you advance your life, as you advance your career. I think we all have a responsibility to help others and to give back in whatever way you can. Those are three that come to mind for me.

Zach: I love it. Thank you so much, and those are really powerful, so I appreciate that. And of course this has been incredible, and I just want to thank you again for taking the time and speaking with us today. Before we let you go, do you have any parting words or shout-outs?

Jorge: No. I mean, I agree. It’s been an incredible experience. I appreciate it. I thank you for having me. It’s been really a pleasure to spend time with you today, Zach, and I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.

Zach: Hey, man, thank you. The pleasure is all mine, and we definitely consider you a friend of the show and would be honored to have you back.

Jorge: Thank you.

Zach: All right, peace.

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