Each year, Americans celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month between September 15 through October 15 to recognize the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the country’s history and culture. At VMware, we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with musical performances and guest speakers, including actor Benjamin Bratt and inventor Richard Montañez, creator of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. VMware’s Power of Difference (POD) community for our Latinx employees, Latinos@VMware, coordinated these events in collaboration with our corporate diversity and inclusion team, VMinclusion.

Many members of VMware’s Office of the CTO (OCTO) take part in the PODs, with some serving as leaders of global or site-specific PODs. Aida Rivas, a Senior Open Source Program Manager, serves as one of the leaders of VMware’s Latinos@VMware POD. Aida helped organize this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month events, including speaking at the company-wide kick-off, and launched a cross-POD initiative focused on Professional Development.

We caught up with Aida recently to learn more about her work within OCTO and the Latinos@VMware POD, her perspective on the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month, and what we can all do to celebrate it this year.

What do you oversee within both OCTO’s Open Source Program Office and the Latinos@VMware POD?

I’m a Senior Open Source Program Manager leading the compliance automation program with the goal of enabling end-to-end automated license compliance process for all product teams. I’m also very committed to our VMware D&I journey because it’s the right thing to do, and there’s business value.

I’m chair of the Latino POD Professional Development and started a Global Multi-POD Professional Development team to work across the VMware PODs to deliver strategic professional development events and improve our processes and policies that will have the greatest impact increasing mobility for women and underrepresented groups at VMware. I’ve been a member for 2 and a half years, joining the POD appropriately 6 months after starting at VMware.

How did you get to where you are in your career today?

I majored in computer science and started as a software engineering developing server-side applications in the financial industry. I then became a software consultant working in the retail and oil industry on software projects ranging from Y2K, DC consolidation, petroleum transportation. In this environment, I learned to quickly adapt to different technologies and business operations in the various company environments. I left software consulting and became a software project manager where I led an R&D team in developing mobile apps for our sales force team.

I relocated from TX to CA and joined a HP as a Project Manager. I built a new team and delivered 1st HP-UX Apache server software. I transitioned to program management and led the evolution of Apache open source ecosystem on HP-UX. I also led Windows manageability quality improvements, managed partner relationship in optimizing of open source compiler, and led 3PAR storage manageability install/upgrade improvements.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you, and why is it important that we celebrate it within VMware?

It’s important to pause and acknowledge the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. As part of VMware’s Diversity & Inclusion journey, there’s tremendous value for each of us to commit to learning from our diverse workforce to gain new perspectives and insights to create an inclusive culture. Inclusivity applies to everything we do, from implementing a new policy, designing the next product/service, updating hiring practices, changing the work environment, or changing employee benefits.

What Hispanic Heritage Month event or activity are you most excited for?

I enjoyed having our CEO, Pat Gelsinger, help us kick-off Hispanic Heritage Month at VMware, and I’m looking forward to all of our planned events through October 15th.

What have you learned within your role in OCTO’s Open Source Program Office that you’ve taken to the POD, or vice versa?

Working with open source is a reminder of the amazing work that can be accomplished with a diverse group when we demonstrate inclusivity. I appreciate that open source provides the opportunity to level the playing field since individuals can contribute to open source projects regardless of education. One of my core values is that everyone’s voice and perspective is valuable, so in managing programs, I build community and ensure everyone feels heard.

I also apply these core values to my work across the PODs. I am continuously humbled by how much more I need to understand about the intersectionality of individuals in our various PODs. I am grateful for the various opportunities we have at VMware to continue to evolve as individuals.

What role does innovation play in your daily life, including your work within the POD/ERG?

Innovation is critical in everything we do. Whatever we implement today – whether it’s a new product, new product feature, new process, or new policy – we need to remember CHANGE is a constant. With change in mind, we need to always be assessing how can we improve our customer experience, our internal open source compliance tooling user experience, and how can we scale.

For our POD work, that same innovative mindset applies. As POD work is above and beyond our day job, we need to always be thinking about how can we be more effective and efficient, how can we reduce administrative work, and what professional development gaps exist that the POD , Global Professional Development  or our D&I teams can address so we leverage our resources and expertise.

What are some of the Professional Development goals and activities for the POD/ERG?

Our goal is to work across our PODs/ERGs (Latino, Black, Asian, Pride, Disability, Veteran, and Women) on professional development events and reduce any overlapping and duplicative events/efforts by the PODs to support our underrepresented communities and women with their career mobility at VMware. We aim to deliver strategic professional development events quarterly.  Currently exploring how to kick-off management training for aspiring leaders across VMware to prepare future leaders as well as exploring formal sponsorship program across VMware to help open doors for women and underrepresented groups to thrive at VMware.

What’s one thing we all should do to celebrate HHM?

Contribute to our Latinos@VMware Social Justice Fund! Our livelihoods depend on essential workers during this pandemic and our community is often in the frontlines. Our fund supports Latinos impacted by COVID-19 and three other important social justice causes.

  • Latino essential workers impacted by COVID-19
  • Children separated from their families at the border
  • Latinas in tech and those interested in a career in technology
  • College students in need financial support to complete their degrees