Life at Deloitte
Be true to yourself
Hispanic Heritage Month
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we sat down with Roberto Cortez, a Financial Advisory Services LLP director based in the Dallas office, to hear more about his career journey and his involvement with Deloitte’s Hispanic/Latino(a) Employee Network & Allies (HNet) Business Resource Group (BRG).
Can you please share a bit about your background and your family?
I was born in Costa Rica, and we moved to Minneapolis when I was two so my father could go to medical school. We lived there for many years, but I’ve also had the opportunity to live all over the U.S. since then.
What has your career path looked like?
Where I am today is the result of a couple steps over the cliff that ended up working out for the best. I was pre-med in college because my father is a doctor – but it wasn’t really something I enjoyed. Although I was accepted to medical school, I decided to enlist in the U.S. Army instead. My brother was at West Point, and his and my service in the military was a way for both of us to give back to this country that had given us so much.
While in the Army, I ended up taking some night courses in economics, accounting, and finance, and for the first time, I was studying something I truly enjoyed. I went on to get a degree in accounting and a commission as Lieutenant in the Army (Infantry) after which I started at what was then PriceWaterhouse in Audit. From there I went to KPMG to join their new Financial Advisory Services practice, and eight years later, I moved to Deloitte and have been here ever since. I love the people I work with here.
As the leader of the HNet Dallas Chapter, what do you value most about HNet and our BRGs? Why did you first get involved with HNet? And how can others benefit from getting involved?
I originally became involved because I was new to Deloitte and wanted the opportunity to network more and better understand the many different facets of Deloitte. I’ve been in my HNet chapter leadership role for about four years now, and what I most value about HNet is working with our members to offer them professional development opportunities – from developing soft professional skills to helping them market themselves within Deloitte. I also value the teaming efforts between the BRGs – for example, we’re partnering with other Deloitte BRGs to focus on a professional development series here in Dallas.
I really appreciate the time and energy that Deloitte professionals put into HNet and other BRGs – and it occurs at all levels. From staff committing time to plan and attend events, to Deloitte Consulting LLP principal Alex Mirkow, who leads HNet at a national level, being fully committed to giving back to Deloitte and supporting our local and national efforts.
How has your leadership style developed over the years?
It has definitely softened. When I started my professional services career, I was coming from the U.S. Army, and I concentrated solely on completing the mission. I didn’t take into consideration all of the sacrifices that our people were making daily, like traveling, because it was part of the job.
However, over time I have gained an incredibly strong appreciation of other people who are different than me, whether in work style or life interests. It went from “my way or the highway” to “our way gets to the right way.” That change in mindset helped me realize the importance of getting the positive out of our differences and helping others along the way.
There is great satisfaction that comes from investing in others – as little as one positive sentence can make a huge impact on people. Take time to care about people, let them know you do, and take time for them. I consider myself as strong technically as I was before, but now I’m more emotionally intelligent. My experience has led me to value the importance of having a positive impact in the lives of our people, clients, and communities to really make a difference.
What advice do you have for other Hispanic professionals – or anyone – for being successful?
Be true to yourself. Go out and network. Find what you love to do. You don’t have to look too far before you’ll find people who will help you develop yourself and build networks, but you have to be willing to take the step of finding mentors and maintaining relationships with them. It’s easy to help someone who is invested in a relationship. When my mentees and counselees come to me with plans they want feedback on, it’s much easier to help them when they have invested time in thinking about their goals. Be considerate of people’s time and come prepared to discuss whatever issue you’re interested in.
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