What does it mean to be a Hispanic or Latin-American? How does heritage influence our relationships, our inspiration and our work?
The stories below were shared by members of Crecer, the Latino/Hispanic Business Resource Group (BRG) at UPS. They offer perspective from some of these UPSers and a glimpse into how their diverse backgrounds have influenced their lives and work with UPS.
Willie Rivero - Vice President of Corporate Automotive Engineering and Crecer Executive Advisor
I am the son of Cuban refugee parents who sacrificed everything to give their children the opportunity for a better life. My father had a strong belief in diversity of thought and freedom of speech. My mother a schoolteacher who always reminded me of the many benefits that comes from being lifelong learner. My parents had a huge impact in my life and instilled in me the beliefs of self-development and diversity of thought.
I have been a senior staff member since 2008. With over 30 years of experience in the automotive industry, I have held a broad range of positions including: driver, mechanic, fleet supervisor, fleet training manager, area automotive manager to small package division manager, and vice president of automotive fleet maintenance and engineering.
Jose Aguayo - Procurement Services Manager and Crecer Chair, Corporate Chapter
Born in Puerto Rico, I landed in Connecticut at the age of 20, full of dreams, searching for opportunities to live a better life. My parents separated when I was a child and like many divorced families, my mother struggled financially, living paycheck to paycheck and working multiple jobs to ensure my two siblings and I had food on the table. Despite all the struggles, my mother and my grandmother always provided for us.
Within a week of arriving in Connecticut in 2000, I began my career journey at UPS at the Hartford hub as a part-time package handler. It was the perfect fit, allowing me to invest my free time in taking English classes and going to college.
As I celebrate my 20th anniversary at UPS and during Hispanic Heritage Month, I ask myself if all the sacrifices I made have been worth it. The answer is simple – three UPS business units, nine roles, two daughters and a life I always wanted with lots of incredible experiences. Yes, it has been worth it.
Manfred Morales - Corporate Operations Senior Project Manager and Crecer Co-Chair, New Jersey Chapter
In 1980, I took a 23-hour train ride from Chicago to New York in hopes of determining where my life needed to go. I was raised in the Bronx by a single mother. She moved to New York from Puerto Rico and had me when she was just a teenager herself. My mother really did her best and I will always be grateful. However, my choices in life as a youth had me going in the wrong direction.
In April 1982, I met the love of my life, and we are still enjoying life together. In June 1982, I landed a job with UPS as a preloader at the Rockefeller center in New York City. UPS helped pay for almost every penny of my bachelor’s degree and my MBA.
Pursuing my education opened many doors for me, and today I’m an engineering manager for UPS. I’m responsible for the creation, development and support of many of our operational technology systems.
As my UPS career comes to an end, I will always remember my partners who mentored me along the way. Not once did I ever feel I was different from others, despite there being few Hispanics when I started. Today, I love the diversity within our organization and how we value everyone’s contributions.
I love the fact that I am Puerto Rican. I love my food, my music and my culture. I also love being a UPSer. Thank you, UPS, for allowing me to feel like I have always belonged here. Gracias!
Wilfredo Ramos - President, Mexico and Latin America District
I take it as a responsibility for other Latino employees to say, ‘Hey, if this guy from Puerto Rico, you know a normal guy, not an Ivy Leaguer or anything, was able to make it to a leadership role, then I can do it as well.’ Setting the example like that.
And to non-Latinos – get to know us. Understand who we are, what drives us. Getting exposed to other cultures just makes us better. It makes us see things from a different point of view. It’s that diversity of thought.
When I was in Spain I had a very diverse team that included: an older employee from Germany, a younger one from France, people from different locations in Spain, from England, and from Colombia. And my point to them was, I don’t want you agreeing for the sake of agreeing. If you’re coming in here and agreeing with everybody, then we aren’t thinking. We don’t come to the best conclusion. I want you to be yourself and draw from your experiences. That’ll give us something that we haven’t seen.
To me, it’s a big responsibility. I tell people, hey, I was exactly where you are now five or ten years ago. All you need to know is just put in the effort, want to learn, develop yourself, and good things are going to happen. Now I have to make sure they get the same opportunities I got. Otherwise it’s just talk.
Pamela Vargas - Marketing Manager, eCommerce Strategy and Partnership Crecer Volunteer, Corporate Chapter
I was born in Costa Rica. My mother is Nicaraguan and my father Costa Rican. My mother had fled the civil war in Nicaragua (Contra-Sandinista) in the late 70s and early 80s. She and my father met as fellow activists in college who spoke out on injustices, civil unrest and governance in Central America. Shortly after I was born, she and I emigrated to the U.S. I was raised in a single parent home most of my life. I started university by the time I was 17, and have been supporting myself financially ever since.
Because I began working at UPS at 19 and took on a management role while still putting myself through college, failing was never an option. My work ethic stems from the struggles I have faced, and this influences not just my work at UPS but also my general outlook on life.
Sarah Matos - HR Specialist, Talent Acquisition, Crecer Volunteer, Corporate Chapter
Being a first-generation college student, I was unfamiliar with how to go about the college pathway. Even from a young age up until high school, I felt different because I struggled to allocate resources compared to my classmates. Raised by a single mother who had migrated from Venezuela, I would watch as she gracefully put herself out there to place opportunities in her path.
From filling out college applications to applying for scholarships, I used her dedication of giving us a better life as fuel to create my own path to higher education. Although she wasn’t familiar with the U.S. college pathway, she was my biggest cheerleader and instilled in me that the sky is the limit. Maneuvering through college as a minority, I took advantage of all the school had to offer in terms of resources and leadership opportunities. This led to me creating a network of personal advocates that would help me navigate my interests and lead me to UPS.
Accepting a human resources internship at UPS after graduating, I noticed this experience was different from previous work experiences. My dedication to learning and strong work ethic, instilled by my mother, was immediately recognized and I was given amazing opportunities as an intern that I would have never envisioned for myself.
I wouldn’t be who I am today without UPS’s intentional efforts to develop me into the best version of myself. As a current full-time UPSer, I can attest that my passion for the organization runs deep because of all who believed in my ability to do big things. I look forward to enhancing my skillsets and flexing new ones as I continue navigating my UPS journey.
Jose Turkienicz - Chief Procurement, Real Estate & Global Business Services Officer
My maternal grandparents fled the Bessarabia (Moldova) pogroms in the early 1900s, and my paternal grandparents fled Poland early in World War II. Both families settled in Brazil. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to escape in time.
I was born in Brazil. I’m the grandson of those ancestors who arrived with no money and were unable to speak the language of their new homeland, but they worked tirelessly to build a home and educate their children. My values and work ethic come from them.
While most of my friends in business school took daytime classes, I worked during the day and took my classes at night so I could be financially independent.
I’m extremely blessed to have had the opportunities I’ve been given and for the people who’ve helped me along the way. I hope I have helped and will continue to help others on their journeys, too.
Troy Murray - Customer Solutions Supervisor
I’ve always believed it’s important to be involved with extracurricular activity at UPS. Before BRGs, I had been involved with United Way, the WLD and other volunteer events. I was a member of the LGBTQ+ BRG from 2012 to 2017.
It was Adilka White, who was my friend, coworker and the Crecer BRG chair, who introduced me to Crecer. I am not Hispanic but I enjoy learning about different cultures and the history and geographies of other countries.
In January 2020, I joined Crecer looking for an opportunity to develop leadership skills and to network with new UPSers. Probably the biggest gain from joining Crecer was how it positively renewed my interest in participating with a BRG. In 2021, I reengaged with the LGBTQ+ BRG and I took on a leadership role.
In the LGBTQ+ BRG, people who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ are called allies. I feel like an ally to the Crecer BRG. I feel like BRGs and members can learn from each other. In the near future I would like to plan a joint event with Crecer and the LGBTQ+ BRG.