As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we caught up with Nicole Scharrenberg, Director of Talent Acquisition at CDW and a proud first-generation Cuban-American. She credits her extensive travel and study abroad experiences in many Hispanic countries for teaching her how to connect deeply with people, understand their cultural roots, and discover commonalities.
Read on to learn more about how she continues to lead by connecting and leveraging the differences that make each individual unique on her team.
As the daughter of immigrant parents, you are taught to see opportunity in everything. Having come from nothing and having to rebuild a better life not only for themselves but for their family, I heard stories of how my parents seized every moment to learn, grow, and prosper. You see the world through a lens of opportunity all around you.
When I first joined CDW 22 years ago as an individual contributor, there were not a lot of Hispanic leaders and I knew that I wanted to get into leadership someday. I worked hard, established my brand, and connected with a network of leaders and mentors throughout the organization that helped advocate for me. They became trusted advisors and my sounding board. They gave me tough feedback to help me grow and helped build my confidence along the way. I owe a lot to those leaders and mentors who saw something in me, especially at the beginning of my career when I may not have seen it so clearly myself.
Leaders are in a position to make decisions on talent that can influence which coworkers participate in projects that provide exposure. I want to ensure that we have a diverse population of coworkers represented.
As leaders, it is important to establish networks and make connections to help build a strong, diverse team at CDW. We also need to create an environment where coworkers can be themselves and where they feel safe to speak up. An environment where we can celebrate our differences and what makes us all unique.
When hiring for a team, I look for people who are different than me, with different skillsets and different ways of thinking and working. When I bring the team together, I acknowledge their strengths and opportunities and provide a platform to reach their full potential. This can be very impactful and lead to a high-performing team.
The career advice I would offer is to get involved and expand your network. Connections can open doors to new opportunities you may not know exist.
Take on opportunities to expand your experiences, even if it gets you outside of your comfort zone. Ask for feedback and be open to it. Feedback is a gift and what you do with that feedback will help shape how you show up, how you build your brand, how your work is viewed, and how you grow your career.