For nine years, the Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit (SVLLS) has been bringing together the best and the brightest for inspirational discussions on everything from entrepreneurship, to politics, to executive management. And, as the title suggests, there is one common thread that aligns its speakers year after year. This unique event happens to cater to Latinos, particularly young up-and-comers hoping to build meaningful careers.
Founder Frank Carbajal has been an integral part of its structure from day one and makes a point to bring a unifying theme to every summit. Building on the idea that “It’s Time” (Es Tiempo) to make a difference, Carbajal continues to guide the vision of SVLLS and chose a timely tie-in for its 2018 kickoff this May. We had the pleasure of speaking with him about it as final preparations were being made.
‘LL: 2018 certainly seems to be a big year for SVLLS. Can you talk a little bit about this latest theme?
Frank: This year’s theme is titled “Building Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace – It’s Time!” We know we’re rich in diversity around the country, but what I would want to emphasize is the inclusive part. Being inclusive of all factions and all folks that have something unique to provide within an organization. I think the lacking of recruitment in terms of the numbers of Latinos is still far behind.
‘LL: It is hard to argue with that point. What led you to that particular theme?
Frank: When I choose a theme every year for a summit, I really choose what’s important within that year. Alejandra Castillo, our 2018 Lifetime Leadership Award honoree, is the CEO of the YWCA USA, which includes 2.2 million women of all ethnicities. With today’s climate, it’s not only about elevating the notion of the #MeToo movement, it’s also about highlighting “Es Tiempo,” as in it’s time to make a change.
‘LL: Very cool. Are there any previous themes that really stood out during past events?
Frank: A few years ago, there was a focus on how the show Shark Tank was structured. In that case, we used “Es Tiempo” as in “It’s Time To Focus On Silicon Valley Latino Entrepreneurs.” We held live pitch sessions and brought out some very innovative ideas from our attendees. Before that, we did “It’s Time To Focus Social Media” and featured Latino leaders from that space. It all aligned with relevant topics from those time periods.
‘LL: Can you share a little more about what attendees can expect this year?
Frank: There will be a lot of great moments happening at this year’s summit and I am excited about everyone who is participating. In the morning we will have executives from LinkedIn, Symantec and Oracle speaking, and later in the day we’ll be highlighting diversity and inclusion champions at our awards presentations. I mentioned Alejandra Castillo, but we’re also very proud to present a Visionary Leadership Award to former HP Customer Evangelist Ramon Baez and a Pioneer Leadership Award to Girls in Tech founder Adriana Gascoigne.
Being the first in my family to graduate college, I understood that there was a need to help my community
‘LL: That all sounds very exciting. Could we get some final thoughts on what SVLSS means to you and what led to its creation?
Frank: My parents were immigrants from Mexico and they both worked picking crops and fruits in northern California. They didn’t rely on welfare and were very proud. Being the first in my family to graduate college, I understood that there was a need to help my community. So, ultimately this was started as a platform to provide access to individuals looking for leaders that they can connect with. I had several that guided me throughout my career and I hope a forum like this can inspire other Latinos and set them up for success.
With a sold-out schedule for 2018, it’s clear that many Latinos are excited to participate in the summit. To find out more about SVLLS and its mission, click here.