Ernie, who started the security operation in Washington, D.C., for Accenture’s federal operations when he joined the company in 1998, is also the executive sponsor of the Washington chapters of the company’s LGBT and Hispanic employee-resource groups.
Business and Security
Ernie grew up in New Mexico, where his father was a career police officer. “A career in security was deep-seated in me but it wasn’t my original path,” he says. He attended New Mexico State University, majoring in business and management.
His first job out of college was working for ADC Ltd., a Hispanic-owned company that was a contract auditor for federal government clients. The company also performed security clearances, and Ernie was sent to Washington, D.C., to run the Eastern region.
Friends suggested he contact Accenture, which was just starting its business with federal clients. Once there, he lobbied with colleagues in the company to build a security organization. “I put a business case together and presented it to my leadership at the time. They saw the need and invested in it.”
Security, he notes, has changed dramatically since he started. “Today everything is digital and cyber security. We [his organization of 40 employees] are protecting our proprietary information and our data privacy,” he says.
Executive Sponsor, Accenture’s Washington D.C. Hispanic American Employee Resource Group and LGBT Employee Resource Group
Bachelor’s Degree, Business, New Mexico State University
Accenture Representative, Greater Washington Chamber of Commerce
Accenture Representative, Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC)
Executive Sponsor, Accenture’s Skills to Succeed Initiative with Capital Partners for Education
Advocate, Food & Friends, caring for people living with HIV/AIDs, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses
Hispanic Tech Leader, Greater Washington Chamber of Commerce
Ernie has been out as a gay man from day one at Accenture as well as his prior employer. “Accenture has helped me bring my own brand. My leadership understands who I am. I am an individual who is a Hispanic and who is LGBT. I bring my authentic self to work,” he says.
Accenture’s values of respect for the individual and integrity are important to him, he says. Today, it’s easier for employees at this company and many others to be out, he says, but when he joined Accenture he found the culture very inclusive. “I brought my husband to events and it was accepted. It wasn’t an issue,” he says.
From the start he has been involved with the employee-resource groups and now serves as executive sponsor of the two groups. “When they came to me, I wholeheartedly said yes. It lets me pay it forward, leveraging my experience and what I’ve had to go through. For our young people, it’s good to share those experiences,” he says.
Developing Future Workforce
“Our constantly evolving workforce, and in particular the addition of Millennials into our organization, is what excites me most. This new, young workforce is bringing new ideas and new perspectives a whole new way of thinking for our organization. They are our future leaders and will shape the way we do business,” says Ernie.
He mentors younger IT professionals, especially those who are Hispanic and LGBT, through Accenture and his involvement with the Greater Washington Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC).
“It’s not a matter of getting them into technical careers. The interest is already there. We know the demand for IT Talent is going to continue to explode across the tech industry in the next decades. For us at Accenture, it’s about enabling these youth and even experienced hires that are new to the technology world. There is an opportunity for us to help them understand that a career in technology is attainable,” he says.
He cites Accenture’s Future Technology Leadership Program as a way to attract and develop a diverse pipeline by reaching students in their first and second years of college. He also notes the firm’s involvement with Girls Who Code, a national non-profit.
On a personal basis, he tries to mentor as many young people as he can and currently has eight formal mentees and between two and 10 informal mentees seeking advice each month.
“I help them learn Accenture’s culture and how we operate. Young folks need to build their personal brand and learn how to tap into diverse networks,” he says. “I help them develop that elevator speech, which can change as you continue in your career. Young folks coming in from college sometimes don’t understand that.”