Saturday, December 20, 2008

Highlighting the Executive Vice President of NSHMBA

Name: Justin Reyes
Ethnic background: Puerto Rican
Education: BA Economics, Binghamton University; MBA Finance & Management, Fordham Graduate School of Business; CFA Level 1 Candidate - December 2008
Work experience: I am currently an Assistant Vice President and Regional Financial Controller of a number of Shared Services Product Lines within the CFO Risk Management Division at Credit Suisse. I joined Credit Suisse in 2007 after serving three years at JPMorgan Chase & Co., in both Business and Financial Analytics. Prior to joining JPMorgan, I spent 3 years as a Trade Specialist at Natexis Bleichroeder Inc. where I successfully completed his Series 7, 63 and 55 licensing certifications.

How and when did you join NSHMBA?
I joined NSHMBA in 2005 while studying towards my MBA but joined the NY Chapter board in late 2006.

Are you a member of other similar organizations?
I am also a member of Credit Suisse's Multicultural Resource Network, The Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA), Junior Achievement New York, Prep for Prep mentor, the Alumni Advisory Committee for Fordham University's World Wise Network and Alumni Advisor for the Fordham Black and Hispanic MBA Association, where I also serve as a mentor to current MBA candidates.

How, when and why did you become the EVP?
To be honest, I had no intention of running for EVP in 2006. I'll never forget my first NSHMBA town hall. On a cold winter evening at the New York Times, I declared my candidacy for the role of VP of Communication. Like many who look join NSHMBA boards, I was hoping to contribute in any way I could while developing the experience and leadership skills necessary to one day become Chapter EVP or President. Little did I know at the time that it was in my reluctance to assume a position of leadership that I would find my own voice and the confidence in myself to do for others as I could not then do for myself. Luckily, I lost that election but must have made an impression on the chapter leadership and was asked to consider another position on the board. After further developing my platform completing a round of interviews, I was asked to serve as chapter EVP and have never looked back.

Have you or are you currently part of other boards? If so, which position(s) do you hold?
NSHMBA is a full time committment but I have been blessed with an opportunity to return to my alma mater and serve on two alumni advisory boards. It has been my honor to give back to the school that taught me the meaning of hard work, friendship and community development. 9 hours of class a week while working 60 hour workweeks, taking vacation time to study for midterms and finals, locking myself away in a quiet room to study for hours at a time and always walking around with a text book in my hand, taught me not only what sleep deprivation could do to a person but what one person could do if only someone, somewhere, granted them an opportunity to better themselves.

What are some positive aspects of being the EVP?
Serving as EVP has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. NSHMBA has bestowed upon me a great responsibility; to see to the personal and professional development of our members by fostering hispanic leadership in our communities. We do so at NSHMBA by developing and managing community empowerment programs, grass roots initiatives, partnerships with external diversity and affinity organizations, career workshops, seminars and networking events. During my term at EVP, I have sought to develop comprehensive programs and initiatives that have allowed NSHMBA members unprecedented access to community development boards, mentorship programs for high school youths and help build of homes for needy families in low income areas to name a few. I have also sought to open doors for new sponsorships, partnerships and relationships throughout NSHMBA and I am forever grateful to NSHMBA for allowing granting me an opportunity to serve the needs of Hispanics in new and exciting ways.

What about some negatives?
I've often been asked if there were 6 of me running around. With all of the non-profit work that I do, I'm often invited to events, dinners, luncheons and information sessions. I find myself pulled in any number of directions at once. But I have learned to do what I can, when I can and with my full commitment. I never go half way and never compromise my effort. Unfortunately, that leads to long nights at events, late night conference calls, countless emails per day and early mornings in the office. But, it's all worth it in the end. I'm doing what I love to do.

What's a typical day for the EVP?
The short version, 7:30-8:00am in the office for an international conference call, answer any number of NSHMBA emails, review resume's for mentees or NSHMBA members, write a letter of recommendation, send emails and make calls to sponsors and partners looking to access this pool of Hispanic talent to which I am the steward, manage the daily operation of the NY Chapter Board ensuring that we're executing against the NSHMBA mission and vision, check in with a mentor, put out fires at work, attend an event, network into the night and with any luck, study for the CFA on the train ride home, arrive by 10:00pm for dinner, spend quality time with my wife, and then do it all over again the next day.

Can you share any funny, moving or upsetting anecdotes that you have encountered as EVP?
To be EVP for NSHMBA is to have a real time view of the problems we face both socially and economically. By the very nature of the tumultuous economic environment we're living in today and the nature of the organization we have volunteered to serve, I have personally witnessed the unprecedented downsizing of Corporate America. It has saddened me to see a job market saturated with highly qualified, intelligent and capable talent with no other recourse than to seek unemployment. So much was made this election of the "greed" on Wall Street, crushing the economy of Main Street. And while yes, systematic fraud, inadequate regulation and risky practices have led this economy into a downward spiral, what of the financial analysts, interns and first year MBA's who usually make up the first round of layoffs? What of the experienced professionals that have to change careers or relocate their families in search of opportunities elsewhere? To be a leader in a market such as this, is to empathize with your members and want for them as you would for yourself. If you can't, then this role is not the one for you.

What have you learned about being a leader during this process?
I truly believe that those who aspire to gain power or influence could never be as successful as those individuals who are thrust into positions of leadership. Many of us just wanted to "pitch in" and "help where we could" when we joined NSHMBA, but the world has asked us to be more than we thought we could be and do more than we ever thought could be done. A leader wants to be more, a leader innovates, looks beyond a mandate to serve the greater purpose and does so because it needs to be done. I'll never forget how embarrassed I was as I served on a panel of "Latino Visionaries", sponsored by JPMorgan Chase. In no way have I ever thought of myself as a visionary (I lobbied to have the name changed). I'm simply a person who acknowledges that our world is flawed and does what can to fix it.

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