Punto Final! Leading by Learning from our Differences

By Sofia Santos, Managing Director of Consumer & Small, Business Strategy and Business Intelligence, Bank of America

Being a Latina and having lived in several different countries has afforded me the ability to experience a lot of different perspectives in both my personal and professional life. In particular, as I did not come exactly from the typical American schools and background as my peers or clients, I always felt the need to prove myself. At times, I felt overshadowed by the typical stereotypes of a successful person and I felt I had to be better prepared than anyone else to make myself heard. This perspective helped me learn how to be confident in expressing my opinions and thoughts and, along with my prior experiences and culture, became an asset that has allowed me to become a better leader today.

It was important for me to join a company where leadership values everyone’s differences and embraces learning and growing from those differences. Diversity helps bring in new ideas which leads to better problem solving and decision making and can lead to a more creative environment. But diversity without inclusion does not work, you need to feel you can come to work and not be afraid to be your full self– bringing your identity, background, and experiences to bear. Joining Bank of America was a great fit for me. Not only does the company celebrate and invest in diversity from an ethnic perspective but it is also a leader when it comes to investing in women in their workplace; employing a number of strong female leaders and offering career development opportunities, benefits and programs specific to helping women achieve economic equality.

I’ve been able to share and use my cultural experiences to encourage my team and other leaders in the organization to give consideration to all perspectives when working through problems or discussing ideas for new solutions. This is crucial for my role today leading Consumer & Small Business Strategy and Business Intelligence. It’s important to be able to get a view into what is happening in multiple markets and to listen and learn about what the needs are for the variety of customers we serve.

As a leader in the midst of a pandemic, I can really appreciate how diversity can help. Being a woman and mother, I have been challenged by bearing the brunt of virtual school with my three kids where each has had different reactions to the current situation all while continuing to balance the responsibilities of work. This experience has given me insight into challenges my colleagues and teammates may be facing. Relating to what others may be dealing with and learning how each person may respond to the same situation differently, gives me the opportunity to help my teammates feel supported and successful during these challenging times.

As I look towards the future, I see diversity and inclusion being essential to growing ourselves and our communities and there is still more we can do. I am proud to be a part of a company where I can play an active role in advancing diversity and inclusion efforts and where I can contribute in an environment where my differences are celebrated. I feel proud and humbled to receive this recognition from LATINA Style. It reinforces my commitment to further advance the career path for other Latinas at Bank of America.