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ANSYS BLOG

September 15, 2022

Mi Casa Es Tu Casa: Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month at Ansys

For the next four weeks, from September 15 through October 15, Ansys will be celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s an opportunity to honor generations of Latino/a and Hispanic communities — those who’ve gone before us and those who follow us — who have and will continue to positively influence and enrich their nation and society.

For us at Ansys, it’s also a time to recognize the significant contributions made to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields around the world. As a global company, we celebrate and honor our Latino/a and Hispanic employees globally for their important contributions across Ansys.

The Latino Connection: Promoting Diversity in STEM

According to a Pew Research Center Report from April 2021, Hispanic people make up 17% of the total workforce, but only 8% of those workers are in the STEM field.2 One goal of the Latino Connection, an employee resource group (ERG) within Ansys, is to narrow this gap.

The Latino Connection was started in the summer of 2021 by Ansys’ ERG co-leads Joe Manich, director, R&D, and Julieta De la Peña, senior license compliance investigator, as an opportunity to network and connect with employees in the Latino/a and Hispanic community. This was especially important during the pandemic, since so many employees were working remotely.

Coupled with executive sponsorship from Nicole Anasenes, CFO and SVP for Finance at Ansys, the group brings together a global network of Latino/a and Hispanic employees that includes both Spanish-speaking/non-speaking and Portuguese-speaking/non-speaking colleagues from Brazil, Portugal, the Caribbean, or those who are indigenous. In celebration of the rich culture and heritage of its members, the Latino Connection engages in community building based on shared experiences. It’s focused on raising awareness through engagement with potential and current employees and customers — and, having fun, too.

“Our ERG logo has flags representing the diversity of people from over almost 30 different countries worldwide speaking Spanish and Portuguese,” says De la Peña. “Spanish is the world’s fourth-most spoken language worldwide, and nearly 60 million individuals can trace their heritage back to Spanish-speaking countries in Latin American and Spain. That equates to a lot of consumers needing products and solutions specifically targeted to their needs. In our work with the Latino Connection here at Ansys, we hope to build on this momentum to attract new talent (and solve these consumer needs).”

Creating an Open, Friendly, Welcoming Environment

De la Peña joined Ansys seven years ago in sales operations before moving into her current role in Ansys’ license compliance department. She has a double nationality — she is both Mexican (born in Mexico City) and is a Spaniard currently living in Madrid.

When asked about her role models in STEM, three specifically came to mind:

  • Diana Trujillo, a Colombian woman who started from a very humble background, before growing into her role as NASA director
  • Franklin Chang Diaz from Costa Rica, the first Hispanic astronaut
  • Pedro Duque, the first astronaut representing Spain. He was also a Minister of Science of the Spanish government.

Working at Ansys in Iberia, Spain, De la Peña brings a fresh perspective from outside the U.S.

Julieta De la Peña

Julieta De la Peña, senior license compliance investigator at Ansys, and co-lead of the Latino Connection ERG

“My experience with Ansys has been really positive,” says De la Peña. “And I do believe the broad majority of my peers at Ansys are interested in learning more about our traditions, places to visit, what to eat and where. I might as well recommend a good place to go for tacos or a paella. I also think this is part of how the ERGs are integrating all of us despite our different backgrounds. Of course, I want my co-workers to walk away with a good impression. For us Latinos, that’s ‘Mi casa es tu casa’ (My house is your house) — that we are open, friendly and very welcoming.”

Contributing Through the Spoken Word

Manich, from Puerto Rico, joined the company in June 1987 as one of just over 100 employees. He was the only Latino, “but it was never a big deal” according to Manich. His first job was in Tech Support, and immediately his boss identified the value of leveraging his skills beyond his engineering education, namely: his knowledge of personal computers (PCs), and his second language as a native Spanish speaker. Both proved to be valuable in various situations along the way.

“PCs were new in our market space, and the first version of Ansys for PCs had just gone out prior to me joining,” says Manich. “We had customers in Latin America and Iberia that could benefit from a native speaker to explain the difficulties more accurately that they were having.”

Clovis Maliska Jr., Marcus Reis, founders of ESSS in Brazil (left), Mercedes Suazo and Joe Manich

Elite Channel Partners Clovis Maliska Jr. and Marcus Reis, founders of ESSS in Brazil (left), came to visit Ansys headquarters and tour the Pittsburgh area over the summer, escorted by ERG Leader Joe Manich and his wife, Mercedes Suazo.

Fast forwarding a little, changes in Manich’s career led him to become a member of the Ansys development department. At that time, his job was to continue the expansion of Ansys’ product offerings on the PC platform. He was also tapped to assist in user meetings in Mexico, Brazil, and Madrid to help promote Ansys products there.

“I remember a particular series of user meetings that took place in Mexico,” says Manich. “We visited several cities over the span of five days. I felt proud that I could contribute not only technically to our cause, but also through the spoken word in Spanish.”

Like De la Peña, Manich sees his role as pivotal to extending Ansys’ global reach. “Being Latino and an engineering professional at Ansys means that I can bring my engineering skills along with my culture to help the company be more successful and help bring this technology to the Spanish speaking world.”

Want to hear more about the contributions of Latino/a and Hispanics in STEM? Now’s your chance to discover some of the stars of STEM, including the most influential Latinas in tech, and Hispanic scientists and engineers.

To learn more about our employee resource groups, visit the Ansys Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion page. For more information about opportunities at Ansys, visit the Ansys Careers page.

Joe Manich and Fernando Balderas

Joe Manich (left), director of R&D at Ansys, during an early meeting in Mexico with Fernando Balderas, the owner of the Ansys Channel Partner, Grupo SSC, who has distributed Ansys in Mexico for the last 32 years. Fernando will be our guest in the upcoming Latino Connection event during Hispanic Heritage Month.


References

1. STEM Jobs See Uneven Progress in Increasing Gender, Racial and Ethnic Diversity, Pew Research Center, April 1, 2021.

2. Hispanic Heritage Month, The History Channel, August 23, 2022.

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