Celebrating Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month with PJ Rivera has been saved
Life at Deloitte
Celebrating Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month with PJ Rivera
Principal in Deloitte Consulting's Government & Public Services practice, and National Hispanic/Latinx Consulting leader
October 6, 2022
In celebration of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, we sat down with Aurelio “PJ” Rivera—Principal in Deloitte Consulting's Government & Public Services practice, and National Hispanic / Latinx Consulting leader—to learn more about his career journey and lessons he has learned along the way.
PJ is a “boomerang” who recently returned to Deloitte. His varied career has taken him from government roles to professional services, to the hospitality industry. Over the course of his career, PJ has provided coaching, training, and consulting services to over three dozen public and private sector organizations.
Who were some of your biggest influences growing up that led you to become the person you are today?
Three different mentoring relationships have shaped my life and my career. First and foremost, I have to recognize my grandmother, who came to the United States and worked in a factory making luxury sunglasses. Through her efforts, she was able to help bring over the rest of our family, raising nine kids along the way. Her story is like so many others, and in some ways, it feels a little cliché. But my grandmother was absolutely a formative figure early in my life, and I’m very proud of what she accomplished and achieved, and I’m here because of her early mentoring.
If I can help people that have similar stories to me connect and find a home at Deloitte then I am truly paying it forward.
Like many people, my parents were also huge mentors growing up. My mother has worked in human capital her entire career, and my father is an IT consultant. Their careers had an impact on me—obviously, since I’m a human capital consultant now! Growing up, my parents reinforced the importance of working hard, believing in yourself, giving back to the community, and taking care of your family, and the rest will always work out. They taught me that I could achieve incredible things by embracing a very long vision while taking short, deliberate steps.
More recently, I credit Deloitte Consulting CEO Dan Helfrich as an important mentor. Dan was instrumental in bringing me to Deloitte when I came to the organization. I was working at the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and I hired Deloitte for an engagement and met Dan through that work. At the end of the project, I was proud of the positive change we made for DHHS. Dan was one of the key human capital partners that suggested that I come to Deloitte and leverage my government experience, passion, and innate skills to drive bigger change. Honestly, I was pretty hesitant—I saw myself as a lifetime public servant, and I thought that a private sector company like Deloitte was all about profitability. Dan opened my eyes – he shared that Deloitte’s commitment to making an impact is the entire reason we are profitable, and because of the impact Deloitte makes, we create more opportunities for our clients and our people. My conversations with Dan focused on people and impact and learning and growing, all things that are foundational to who I am, and why I love the work that I do.
What advice would you give to junior professionals who are thinking about the lifespan of their career?
I think it comes down to probably three things. First, be passionately curious about everything and anything that you do. When you're curious you ask questions, you learn, you develop points of views, and you inspire others through your passion and your curiosity.
The second is to really nurture relationships and invest time and energy into the people that you genuinely connect with. I’m getting married in a few weeks and have invited a mix of current Deloitte partners and colleagues, along with former clients and colleagues from previous roles. None of these people are coming for work reasons—it’s just that I believe in and love interesting people that have shared values, and I want to celebrate an important milestone in my life with them.
And the third piece of advice I would give is to lean into failure and be resilient. At the end of the day, if you're always pushing yourself to the limit, you're always trying new things. When I was first with Deloitte, I did everything from working on an airline project because I loved the TSA, to figuring out how to do ecosystem work, to working for a foreign Prime Minister, to living in Singapore for a spell. Throughout all of this, I failed, I succeeded, I learned things, I made lifelong friends with colleagues and clients, and simply put, I learned a ton. What's fascinating is that my experience with my different clients and employers is now helping me in my current role. I’m currently leading a project with a state government to help them digitize government services and create global travel corridors, and I’m tapping into my wide network of relationships across aviation, hospitality, and government on this one amazing project.
As a new partner, you must be incredibly busy. Why was it important to you to take on the role of US Consulting DEI Hispanic/Latinx Leader?
As I shared, my parents were amazing mentors and role models to me growing up. They were results-oriented and incredibly focused on creating measurable change and measurable results. Their belief was that you should always be focused on delivering results, and anything else is just noise.
When I started working, I took the same approach. I didn’t share anything about myself, my personal life, my heritage, nothing. One day a partner told me that the team really liked working with me, but they felt they didn’t know anything about me—where I was from, what I liked to eat, what my hobbies were. “Why does it matter?” I thought. I just wanted to be known as a high performer. Over time, they helped me realize that I was a role model to others and that people needed to see me and connect with me on a bigger level. Deloitte is such a big place, and as a manager and leader, I needed to help people feel connected and find a home that resonated with them.
That series of conversations and the challenge and support that I got from thought leaders at the time stayed with me. Once I opened up and shared more about myself, it resulted in me having a couple of very special moments where I connected with others who are also Hispanic, or also gay, or also graduates of a non-tier one university. Ultimately, this changed the course of my career and helped me realize the importance of DEI, especially equity. If I can help people that have similar stories to me connect and find a home at Deloitte then I am truly paying it forward. None of the partners I worked with early in my career were diverse or Hispanic. They were simply allies who believed in me sometimes more than I believed in myself and wanted to help me, and now I want to do the same for others.
Finally, I’m also proud of the significant investments Deloitte is making toward its diversity, equity, and inclusion budget, programming, and resources. As the US Consulting DEI Hispanic/Latinx Leader, I’ve been offered a platform to really be a champion for my community, a platform that was not available to my grandparents or parents. The HLx community encompasses 30-plus countries and many different languages, yet we are united by a sense of community and passion. I think the idea of community building is really important, and the more we can do to help people find communities at Deloitte—especially for our diverse professionals—the better off we’ll be in terms of engagement, retention, and impact.
At Deloitte, diversity, equity, and inclusion are core to our values. From the moment our people walk in the door through each development opportunity, they are empowered to show up authentically, grow to their full potential, and live purposeful lives.