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 Fine-Tuning Figures

If you’re good with numbers and money, and possess strong organizational skills, consider a career in the fast-paced, exciting fields of banking, financial services and insurance. You could also apply your financial fine-tuning skills working in a financial position for a large, non-financial company. Think about it: every organization needs financial talent!
Perhaps you’d rather walk down the insurance career path, which needs those with money matters on their minds, too. If you’re interested in helping others protect their assets, and greatly understand the importance of insurance - be it for an individual, family, material objects such as a car, or all three - a career in this always growing and evolving area may be right up your alley.
All three fields offer a plethora of job opportunities for those who are hard-working and motivated, and possess a willingness to grow and learn. There’s also plenty of room for growth as each field seeks diverse talent with unique perspectives that will stay for the long-term.
In this feature you’ll meet four stellar Hispanic professionals who love to fine-tune figures for their respective firms. They outline their job responsibilities, and impart beneficial career advice to job hunters interested in investing in a career in finance.
Miró Leads & Engages Her Diverse Team at HBO
Manhattanite Maria (nee Urbaez) Miró has been with HBO for 13 years. As the current vice president of financial operations, Miró manages a team of professionals in the reporting, forecast, and budgeting of various HBO operating and support areas including acquired theatrical programming, staff, legal and business affairs, research, and so forth.
The Nyack College graduate explains that numbers and business are her forte, “but the financial services industry did not seem like the right culture fit for me. The media industry was attractive since I preferred to work for a company whose product interested me.”
Throughout her professional career, she never forgot the sound advice a former mentor and friend gave her: “My accounting professor told me I’d always find employment with an accounting degree. So far, so good!”
HBO, says Miró, is a clear industry and brand leader in the Pay TV space - and Miró works in the company’s New York, NY headquarters. “Over the last year or so, I’ve worked on a project related to the implementation of new policies and a system that will aid in the accounting for lease contracts,” she explains.
“The culture of quality, care and pride permeates everything from the creative process to deal negotiations to back-office support.”
Her advice for young job seekers is “perhaps cliché, but network, network, network. Speak to your friends and family about your interests and ask them for referrals. Join industry organizations and attend their events.”
Plus, make it a point to connect and follow up with an email, call or a coffee chat that you arrange. “I’ve always found it so interesting to learn how people ended up in their current careers; it’s usually not the obvious track. Opportunities almost always came about through their connections,” she points out.
Supporting her colleagues is of utmost importance to Miró. “Women tend to feel intimidated to reach out and engage with those outside of their comfort zone or close circles,” she says.
“I encourage my team and colleagues to engage in company-wide activities and groups to expand their network, and to cultivate relationships outside of their business line. Taking on leadership roles in a resource group is one way I was able to make some key connections that have led to exposure and opportunities to which I may otherwise not have had access.”
She also believes a diverse workplace is crucial for success. “The research and ‘bottom lines’ of diverse businesses proves it! Diversity of thought, experience and culture is key for any company, project or idea to thrive. Especially in today’s global economy the reach and impact of any business must be diverse to compete.”
When sending out resumes and hoping to land that dream interview, Miró wants job seekers to remember not to just “sit around and wait for emails or phone calls. Get out there and meet people, like I said before. Don’t be intimidated by your inexperience or lack of knowledge. Be honest about what you know, and express that you want to learn.”
Find career opportunities at warnermediagroup.com/careers with New York, NY-headquartered HBO, which is a division of Time Warner Inc., and connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
DeLaCruz Ensures Employee Inclusion & Great Service at CSAA
Originally from Sacramento, CA, Karina DeLaCruz, director of diversity and inclusion, CSAA Insurance Group, is currently based in the company’s Walnut Creek, CA headquarters. She’s been with CSAA for 15 years and oversees a team of talented communications, change management, organizational development, and diversity and inclusion professionals who “are responsible for helping to shape our company’s amazing culture.”
So what exactly is CSAA? Is that who you call when your car breaks down and you need assistance? Not directly, but it is affiliated with cars - and more.
“CSAA Insurance Group provides automobile, homeowners and other personal lines of insurance to AAA members through AAA clubs in 23 states and the District of Columbia,” explains DeLaCruz, who attended American River College.
“We’re one of three insurance underwriters in the U.S. providing AAA-branded property and casualty insurance.”
She adds that CSAA is a company “that works together in service of AAA members, our communities and one another. Being a ‘community that works together’ is part of our core values, and we offer employees’ frequent opportunities to give back to our communities, and to make an impact in people’s lives every day. If those values match your own, then share that with our recruiters.”
Even if there isn’t an opportunity currently, sharing your values and career goals with recruiters, advises DeLaCruz, is a good way to be remembered when the right fit opens up.
“We work to empower everyone at CSAA IG because we know that when employees are empowered to make decisions on behalf of customers, we can provide the excellent service and value AAA members have grown to expect from our brand,” shares DeLaCruz, noting that her employer particularly strives to increase opportunities for women, too.
“One of the first things we looked at was our leadership structure. Four of our eight-person senior executive leadership team are women, including our CEO. We’re working to increase the number of women in senior positions across the enterprise by exploring new candidate sources for open positions, evaluating our job descriptions to resonate across all demographics, and removing other barriers that might prevent women from advancing.” According to DeLaCruz, CSAA also has a 500-employee-strong Women’s Professional Network, including men and women, which fosters connections and understanding.
“And to make sure we are walking the talk, we do periodic pay reviews and make adjustments when necessary to ensure employees are paid fairly and equitably across genders and ethnicities,” the executive leader further points out.
The business case for a diverse workforce has already been widely established, as well, continues DeLaCruz.
“The question to ask now is, ‘How do we make inclusion and belonging a true bedrock of our organizations?’ Welcoming different perspectives to the table is essential to increasing understanding and achieving our business strategies, and to continually provide value to AAA members.”
A self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, DeLaCruz’s life and career advice is this: “Someone once told me to embrace that competitive spirit, and that advice has served me well in my career. It helps me see problems as opportunities to challenge myself and to learn something more about myself. I often say that to be successful you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable and actually ‘lean into’ that discomfort.”
Find career opportunities at careers.csaa-insurance.aaa.com with Walnut Creek, CA-headquartered CSSA, an AAA insurer, and connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Ramos Provides Independent Audit Leadership at American Express
Born in Havana, Cuba and raised in Tampa, FL, Eduardo J. Ramos currently works for American Express in New York, NY as executive vice president and chief audit executive. He’s been with the company for almost 10 years, and is part of the internal audit group at American Express.
“I’m responsible for providing independent and strategic leadership on internal and external audit, enterprise risk management and compliance matters to the company’s board of directors and executive management,” he details.
“I oversee a team of approximately 200 professionals, and report to the chairman of the audit and compliance committee of the board of directors, and the chairman and CEO of American Express Company.”
Ramos is also a member of the company’s executive committee, which consists of senior leadership responsible for the company’s strategic direction.
According to Ramos, American Express takes pride in fostering an inclusive culture, “where differences are not only valued, but also welcomed, and colleagues feel like they can thrive. A vital component of our diversity strategy is the use of colleague networks, which play a key role in developing employees, building a sense of community, and driving innovation and business performance.”
He adds: “Additionally, our diverse teams help us innovate and win. They bring valuable perspectives, experiences and skills to the table such as speaking a foreign language, which we can leverage across our global footprint.”
He’s an advocate for developing diverse talent across the company, and is an executive sponsor of a Hispanic and Latinx colleague network (HOLA), as well as Women in Audit, his department’s women’s network.
“Networks such as HOLA and WIA build bridges across differences in the workplace, and help us leverage our diversity for our business strategies. I’m especially proud of the development opportunities we’ve created through HOLA for emerging Hispanics and Latinx leaders.”
On the tech side Ramos explains that “we recently launched a significant effort in my department called ‘Audit NextGen,’ which is a coordinated effort to advance our processes and systems to make us as agile and effective as possible through the use of data analytics and audit process automation. This framework will enhance our internal effectiveness as the company accelerates its digital transformation and innovation strategy.”
His goals for 2019 include continuing to build a best-in-class audit organization that cultivates a sustainable control and compliance environment, protects the company against risks, and drives credibility with its external and internal partners.
“I’ll also be focused on continuing to create a collaborative and engaging environment where our audit colleagues can thrive,” he says.
Ramos earned a master’s degree in finance from Boston University, as well as a master’s degree in banking from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking. He’s also completed executive leadership development from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Find career opportunities with New York, NY-headquartered American Express at careers.americanexpress.com/ourcompany, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
Peña Is Committed to Bringing Simply Business’ Online Insurance to Entrepreneurs 
Based in Boston, MA, Bill Peña, CEO (U.S.) at Simply Business helps take the insurance marketplace successfully pioneered by Simply Business in the U.K., and “makes it work” in the U.S.
“In practice, it means building a great team, giving them a motivating mission, and supporting them and our small business customers in their success,” says Peña, who’s been with the company for almost two years, and who’s a Brown University graduate.
Peña explains that Simple Business was acquired by Travelers in 2017, “but we operate as a stand-alone business. Travelers is committed to preserving the approach and values that have made Simply Business successful.”
For those wondering what exactly digital insurance brokerage is, Peña happily explains: “Essentially, a digital insurance brokerage is an online insurance agency where you can get personalized insurance quotes, compare them to one another, and buy the one that works best for your business.”
Simply Business is aiming to take this concept to the next level, adds Peña, “because we know commercial insurance can be complicated for anyone who doesn’t have an insurance background. We’ll change that by making it easier to understand what insurance products are out there for a small business, allowing the customer to tailor their insurance coverage, so they can get exactly what they need, and buy those insurance products in a way that’s convenient for the customer - online or over the phone.”
At Simply Business, Peña underscores how “diversity and inclusion are ingrained in our DNA. Our workforce is quite diverse, with representation from different backgrounds, races, sexualities and genders. We’re one of the only companies in Boston - maybe even the country - where we have more female developers than male developers - it’s about a 60-40 split.”
And the company’s management team includes Latinos and women who are passionate about serving as role models and mentors.
“We do also work with outside groups like Resilient Coders, which predominantly supports Hispanic youth, and She Hacks, which predominantly supports female and non-binary youth, to take the experience and ambition of our people, and help support the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders in our community,” Peña points out.
Peña’s very proud of his colleagues, calling them “a funny, talented, weird bunch of folks who are all excited about tackling the profound challenges that are in this space.”
For him, the work itself is incredibly rewarding. “A lot of people think ‘insurance’ and immediately get bored, but we see it in a different light. We’re empowering what I like to call the ‘entrepreneurial spirit,’ that unique drive that people have to go above and beyond the usual 9-to-5 experiences.”
Adds Peña: “As the son of a Cuban refugee who came to the country to escape communism and start his own businesses, I feel privileged to find myself helping others with that same drive in our communities. Entrepreneurship is a force for social progress, and small business insurance, in making sure these businesses can thrive, is a social good.”
Find career opportunities at simplybusiness.com/careers with Simply Business, which is operated by Travelers Insurance and which has offices in Boston, MA and London, U.K. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
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