His View: The Importance of Community & Staying Connected
By Thomas Savino
Although we at Prospanica, the Association of Hispanic MBAs and Business Professionals, had been following the progress of COVID–19 since January, we were surprised, but prepared, for the quick shutdowns. Knowing the danger a pandemic would pose, especially to the Hispanic community, I reminded our key stakeholders that our mission—to empower and enable Hispanic professionals to achieve their full educational, economic, and social potential—would never be more important than during this crisis. I promised that together we could meet this new challenge. And together we have!
On Monday, March 9, we decided to postpone our well-regarded Leadership Summit scheduled for later that week in Irving, Texas. Within 12 hours, we had rescheduled a track of sessions as a Virtual Leadership Summit for later in the week. By participating in this particular track, attendees could earn a Certificate of Leadership Communication, issued in conjunction with the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. We believed in the importance of earning this credential, and, while much of the country was shutting down, over 90 attendees earned that certificate!
Several of our 47 chapters immediately changed their events to virtual. The national office dedicated itself to quickly enabling the remaining chapters to do so as well. This effort has been so successful that our chapters continue to gain new corporate partners.
Our national team is very experienced in conducting high-quality virtual events. For years we have conducted monthly webinars, usually with guest speakers, for our chapter leaders. Last year, in partnership with the University of Dallas, we offered our Soft Skills Development Webinar Series (still available at www.prospanica.org/Webinars). Attendees could qualify for a digital badge, which is a micro-credential containing detailed information about the learning experience and the knowledge gained. Most who earned a digital badge posted about it on social media and added it to their LinkedIn profile.
We also created two new virtual programs. Cafecito con Prospanica is both a highly-rated and highly-attended weekly series on varied subjects. We also introduced our Chapter Líder Instagram Takeover. Prospanica is well-known for the quality of its volunteer chapter leaders. They lead this program with fun subjects and make it conducive for networking. Over the course of an average year they lead almost 200 high-quality events.
The team successfully pivoted to our new reality, all while working on our normal business. We conducted our scholarship application process and held our first Virtual Career Fair (VCF). The VCF was planned in November 2019 and was a smashing success! Sixteen companies participated, and over 1,700 people registered. Given the strong participation, feedback and need, we are planning several more.
As we continue to monitor COVID-19, we are continuously working on our programs and events. We are working on our postponed in-person Leadership Summit and our National Conference and Career Expo (October 14 – 16 in Las Vegas). Not only are we determined to deliver our normal industry-leading quality, but we are working with the hotels to ensure these events are as safe as possible. We greatly appreciate our corporate and university partners that have been great! They have stayed connected with us and provided valuable suggestions to make our programs safer and more successful.
Thomas Savino is the Chief Executive Officer of Prospanica, the nationally recognized and premier nonprofit dedicated to developing Hispanic talent and growing the number of Hispanic professionals represented in industries of America to perpetuate economic growth and corporate competitiveness.