Fewer Veterans Are Starting Their Own Businesses. Here’s Why It’s a Problem.

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Half of all American World War II veterans eventually became entrepreneurs. What happened?

Entrepreneurship is not an easy path for anyone, but for veterans, it appears to be getting harder. That’s troubling for military-veteran business owners, of course, and for the fellow service members they would hire. But it’s also a big problem for theentire U.S. economy.

Last century, a stunning 49.7 percent of World War II vets went on to own or operate a business, according to Syracuse University‘s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Some 40 percent of Korean War veterans did the same–creating millions of jobs along the way. But this century, while the time span has been shorter, the rate of veteran entrepreneurship has been discouragingly low.

So far, only 4.5 percent of the more than 3.6 million people who have served in the U.S. military since September 11, 2001, have launched a company, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That amounts to roughly 162,000 veteran-owned businesses and, since the average such company employs about two people, an estimated 324,000 jobs. (About 200,000 people leave the service each month, adding to the ranks of veterans who may become entrepreneurs.) But if this generation were creating businesses at a rate closer to those who came home after Korea, they’d have started about 1.4 million companies already, and that would have created about 2.8 million jobs.

“The differences are so stark it’s unbelievable,” says Joseph Kopser, an Army veteran and co-founder of transportation app Ride­Scout. He blames a lack of in-service mentorship for current military members, saying that too many vets now “get a job and settle” rather than launching their own businesses.

There are several other explanations for the drop-off too, starting with drastic changes in the economy. Overall rates of entrepreneurship are down across the board. And gone are the days when a returning soldier could easily segue from running a platoon to running an assembly line and then move up through management, along the way gaining the necessary skills to start a business. Those manufacturing jobs have mostly vanished, eliminating what was once an important bridge from the military to the civilian world.

While vets tend to be more entrepreneurial than the average person, today’s vets also have fewer resources in some areas than their predecessors did. For example, while this century’s version of the G.I. Bill is considered one of the most generous, it does not provide access to low-interest loans to start a business; the G.I. Bill of World War II did.

“I did approach banks, at first,” says Tim Smith, an Army veteran and founder of Patriot Commercial Cleaning, in St. Louis. “But I didn’t have a two-year business history, so I couldn’t get any financing.” (He eventually was able to get a low-interest loan through a nonprofit, Work Vessels for Veterans–and says he initially wouldn’t have been able to make payroll without it.)

Beyond the economic and job-creation problem, the recent decline in new veteran businesses creates a vicious cycle for returning military personnel. Fewer veteran-founded companies means fewer jobs for veterans, and fewer employers who can create the sorts of business and psychological environments most comfortable for those returning from warfare. That means fewer bosses who understand the difficulty of reintegrating after war or the toll of PTSD or more visible war wounds–let alone offer jobs to those suffering from it. In 1996, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, vets founded 12.3 percent of all new businesses; by 2014, that number had sunk to 5.6 percent. And those who once served in the armed forces are 30 percent more likely than other employers to hire other veterans, according to a 2012 study from the International Franchise Association.

“There is still some stigma when it comes to employment. People are afraid to hire vets,” says James Schmeling, an Air Force veteran and executive vice president of the Student Veterans of America, a nonprofit network.

Todd Connor, a Navy veteran and the CEO of the Bunker Labs incubator for veteran-owned businesses, also says that veterans today may be less well-positioned to do the networking vital to successful entrepreneurship. The draft drew from all segments of society, but in this century’s all-volunteer armed forces, service members are more likely to come from military families. “As a result,” says Connor, “they are increasingly isolated from the vast majority of Americans who will not serve in the military.” That means they lack the outside networks to become successful entrepreneurs, to become role models, “to see that it is even possible for them.”

Continue onto Inc. to read the complete article.

Veteran Entrepreneur Resources

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SBA offers support for veterans as they enter the world of business ownership. Look for funding programs, training, and federal contracting opportunities.

Devoted exclusively to promoting veteran entrepreneurship, the OVBD facilitates the use of all U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) programs by veterans, service-disabled veterans, reservists, active-duty service members, transitioning service members, and their dependents or survivors.

SBA programs provide access to capital and preparation for small business opportunities. They can also connect veteran small business owners with federal procurement and commercial supply chains.

The Veterans Business Outreach Center Program is an OVBD initiative that oversees Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) across the country. This small business program features a number of success stories and offers business plan workshops, concept assessments, mentorship, and training for eligible veterans.

Funding for veteran-owned small businesses

You can use SBA tools like Lender Match to connect with lenders. In addition, SBA makes special consideration for veterans through several programs.

Veteran entrepreneurship training programs

SBA programs feature customized curriculums, in-person classes, and online courses to give veterans the training to succeed. These programs teach the fundamentals of business ownership and provide access to SBA resources and small business experts.

Government contracting programs for veterans

Every year, the federal government awards a portion of contracting dollars specifically to businesses owned by military veterans. Also, small businesses owned by veterans may be eligible to purchase surplus property from the federal government.

Check out the rules of eligibility for these government contracting programs for veterans.

Military spouse resources

Military spouses make great entrepreneurs, and small business ownership can be a transportable.

Continue reading on sba.gov/veteran-owned-business.

Cheeriodicals: Team Building That Matters

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Cheeriodicals recently delivered  personalized cheer-up duffel bags containing patriotic and convenience items to VA Hospitals, which included our current issue of U.S. Veterans Magazine.

About Cheeriodicals
Cheeriodicals provides a one-of-a-kind corporate team building experience focused on corporate social responsibility. Our Team Building that Matters concept is a turnkey, meaningful celebration on a local and national level.

We flawlessly execute an impactful, user-friendly event to unite your team while ultimately making a difference for those who could use a dose of cheer.

For more information about Cheeriodicals visit, https://cheeriodicals.com/

Should Your Company Invest in Supplier Diversity Programs? The Answer is Yes.

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By Yvette Montoya

When we consider the state of the United States in 2022 both socially and economically, it’s clear that our demographic is shifting and that Americans believe that social responsibility is more important than ever.

Companies that want to stay relevant in this economy need to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and initiatives. A 2017 Cone Communications CSR study stated that 87 percent of consumers would purchase a product that aligned with their own values, and 76 percent would boycott a brand if it supported an issue that went against their beliefs. So, it’s a good time for companies to evaluate what their corporate social responsibility (CSR) looks like and where it needs improvement.

There are four types of corporate social responsibility: Environmental, philanthropic, ethical and economic responsibility– and supplier diversity programs have the potential to achieve all four categories. In a world that’s increasingly looking to employers to create stability and treat employees fairly, supplier diversity programs not only give companies a competitive edge but also make them more likely to maintain high standards of ethics. Implementing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) positions businesses to create a positive experience for employees, vendors and the community at large.

Here are three reasons why every company should take supplier diversity programs seriously:

  1. You Get to Be a Leader in Social Responsibility

Companies that choose to focus intentionally on investing in Black and Latinx, women-owned, and LGBTQ+ businesses build trust with their customer base and inspire other business leaders to examine their own company practices. When we create transparency related to how products are sourced and/or hiring and management practices, we put our money where our mouth is, and so will your customers. According to Cone Communications, three out of five Americans believe that companies should spearhead social and environmental change. And eighty-seven percent of Americans said they’d buy a product because a company advocated for an issue they care about.

Although there may be some challenges in finding minority-owned vendors that comply with a buyer’s procurement requirements, there are two solutions to this. One being creating mentoring and training programs for diverse suppliers to help them meet the standards of the certification process. The other is to partner with relevant councils and chambers of commerce that provide these support systems. When value is created through tangible solutions, everyone wins.

  1. Investing in DEI will Foster Innovation and Sales

Treating DEI like an option or something that isn’t deserving of attention means that customers will see that you’re not taking your CSR seriously. Corporate social responsibility initiatives can be the best public relations — as well as marketing — tool. Gen Z and Millennials are experts at spotting inauthenticity. A company that positions authentically with real company-wide efforts and accountability will be viewed favorably in the eyes of consumers, investors and regulators. Honest initiatives attract opportunities and employees that match an organization’s convictions.

CSR initiatives can also improve employee engagement and satisfaction — key measures that drive retention. Finally, corporate social responsibility initiatives by nature force business leaders to examine practices related to how they hire and manage employees, source products or components and deliver value to customers. All of these things create happy employees and customers, which lead to innovation, sales and a good reputation.

  1. You Get to Make an Impact on Structural Inequality in America

Supplier diversity programs are a catalyst for true social impact because thriving small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy. Strong local businesses create jobs and higher wages, which put money back into the community and drive economic growth. Another plus of supplier diversity is the impact it will have on the company at large and the economy overall. Supplier diversity promotes healthy competition by increasing the pool of possible suppliers. This can lead to potentially lower costs and a better product quality. Not only that, bringing in people from different backgrounds or from backgrounds that reflect the community your company serves can result in better marketing, unique solutions to old problems, as well as innovative ways to meet your customer’s needs.

With midterm elections underway, it’s a good idea for businesses to be on the right side of key issues, including racial and gender equality and environmental sustainability. This gives corporations the opportunity to work collaboratively with businesses in a way that combats racial discrimination, all while empowering the public, creating economic opportunity and enhancing their business.

Yvette Montoya is a Los Angeles native and journalist who is equal parts content creator and writer. She covers everything from issues of spirituality and politics to beauty and entertainment. Her journalistic work has been featured on Refinery29, Teen Vogue, ArtBound, HipLatina, Mitu, and she’s a regular contributor for POPSUGAR.

Empowering Veteran Business Owners For Nearly 150 Years

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Alex McKindra pictured with father and grandfather

The McKindra family believes in two things: service and community. That’s what led Commercial Banking Managing Director, Alex McKindra to West Point, the Air Force, and now JPMorgan Chase. Here’s how he honors his family legacy by helping to empower veteran business owners.

From his years of service in the military to his current role as a Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase—where he helps former soldiers build their own businesses—Alex McKindra Jr. is a veteran success story.

And his story has a long history, tracing back through generations of his family in the small town of Union Chapel, Arkansas.

Generations of Mentorship

In the late 1800s, McKindra’s great-great grandfather, Reuben Frank McKindra, moved his family to Union Chapel, a town originally settled by freed Black slaves.

Working on their family farm, the McKindras made a name for themselves by demonstrating their resourcefulness and aptitude for hard work. Namely, the family utilized mentorship programs, as well as public and private funding, to not only start but grow—and grow—their family farm.

Amid the success of the family business, the McKindras never lost sight of the support they had been given—and the importance of passing it on to others in their community and society. Generations of McKindras have dedicated their lives to the military and, subsequently, to their communities when they returned home.

“I would not be in the position I am today if not for the opportunities that mentorship provided,” says McKindra. “The farm my family was able to start, through the support and mentorship of others, has helped to educate and put clothes on every generation of my family since the 1880s.”

Paying It Forward

McKindra chose to honor his roots by following in his ancestors’ footsteps and joining the military. He graduated from West Point in 1993 and then completed a tour of duty serving as Captain in the United States Air Force.

Armed with the life experience and knowledge he gained from the service—and a freshly-minted MBA from the University of Southern California—McKindra dove into the world of corporate finance. Quickly building a reputation for his intelligence, reliability and kindness, he rose through the ranks. Today, he works as a Managing Director for JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking.

Amid his own success, McKindra’s also wanted to help those who—like his great-great-grandfather Reuben—had risked their lives for the country and were now seeking to put down roots as civilians.

At JPMorgan Chase, he continued to advocate for veterans, ultimately becoming co-lead of JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking’s veteran initiatives program, alongside Army veteran Terry Hill.

Currently, McKindra and Hill are working with JPMorgan Chase and Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit, to build programs to help veteran small business owners. Together, they created CEOcircle, a 13-month mentorship program that is tailored to help mid-size, military-connected companies grow. Through this program, veteran business owners and their families gain access to the guidance and resources they need to succeed, including education, networking, and one-on-one financial mentoring from JPMorgan Chase advisors. The program empowers businesses that will support military families for generations to come—businesses like the McKindra farm.

The new program launched nationally last year and will welcome its second cohort of 80 military-connected businesses this November.

“If my great-great-grandfather were here today, I would want him to know that what he built didn’t just support our family, it also instilled the values in us that would seed the acceleration and growth of hundreds of other veteran-owned businesses in the future,” McKindra says. “I know he’d be proud of that.”

In the past decade, over 16,000 veterans and service members have transitioned their military skills into civilian careers at JPMorgan Chase. Through our programs and initiatives, our goal is to position military members, veterans and their families to thrive in their post-service lives. Learn More.

The Veteran Entrepreneur Scholars program

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A businessman with thumbs up in victory sign with the United States flag in the background. Victory for the USA. Support for U.S. policy

The Veteran Entrepreneur Scholars program is an intensive entrepreneurship boot camp that trains current and former service members to innovate, build startups, and apply the Silicon Valley way of thinking to their roles as rising leaders.

Over the course of five weeks part-time, highly qualified veterans learn the foundational skills of innovation and entrepreneurship. They apply these learnings through a hands-on project, identifying a startup idea, validating the market, and taking their first steps toward launching their own venture.

Veteran Entrepreneur Scholars participate in this experience as members of small cohorts of fellow veteran entrepreneurs, with whom they actively collaborate, exchange feedback, and share the ups and downs of life as a founder. The program culminates in Demo Day, during which each Scholar presents their startup. The relationships developed in their cohorts frequently lead to collaboration on ventures after graduation.

While the Veteran Entrepreneur Scholars program focuses on startup entrepreneurship, veterans interested in building a non-profit organization or launching products inside existing companies are also welcome to participate and will find much of the material covered transferable.

Successful graduates are welcomed into the Veteran Entrepreneur Scholars community. This opens further opportunities for engagement with fellow veteran entrepreneurs. They also receive certificates from the Mason School of Business Center for Military Transition and the Veteran Startup Challenge. And, they are eligible for digital credentials that can be displayed on social media like LinkedIn and select William & Mary alumni opportunities and events.

No prior experience in startups or entrepreneurship is required. All current and former service members are welcome to apply.

Both in-person and remote cohorts will be hosted. In-person cohorts will be held at the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center on William & Mary’s campus.

Continue to read the complete article and apply here.

The Dos and Don’ts of Veteran Interviews

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professional woman seated behind monitor extending her hand

Many civilian employers have admitted challenges when it comes to evaluating a veteran during a job interview. This is often because veterans have difficulty explaining how their military experience relates to the needs of the civilian employer. Additionally, while veterans will be quick to praise their team or unit, they are typically not self-boastful in interviews, so civilian employers can often feel like veteran candidates are not “selling themselves.”

It is important to keep in mind that the concept of professional presentation is often different for former military personnel than for civilians. Military personnel (particularly those recently separated/discharged from military service) will often present themselves with eyes forward, back straight and using “Sir” and “Ma’am” vocabulary (often without much smiling). This behavior may be misperceived as cold, distant, unapproachable or demonstrating a lack of social skills. While this is generally not the case, these perceptions have caused many service members to be discarded early in the interview process.

Employers should recognize that former military personnel may need permission to “speak freely” to create a comfort level where they can appear in the most positive light. Hiring managers should be encouraged to be patient with these candidates and to “dig deep” with follow up questions to find qualities that are not apparent at first glance. It is worth remembering that veteran candidates, unlike many civilian candidates, may not be accustomed to interviewing and may require a little latitude.

Know What You Can and Should Not Ask During an Interview

First and foremost, interviewing a veteran or wounded warrior is no different than interviewing any other candidate. It is important to ask all questions of all candidates, without exception. A good interviewing practice is to ask all candidates the following question: “Have you read the job description? Yes or no — can you, with or without a reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job?” You are not asking the candidate to disclose whether or not they have a disability but are ensuring they can perform the essential functions of the job. In addition, you make it clear that as an employer you understand this process and are not likely to discriminate due to disability.

Great questions to ask veterans can include:

  • What is in the job description that interests you most?
  • Can you, with or without a reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job?
  • What type of training and education did you receive in the military?
  • Were you involved in the day-to-day management of people or supplies?

Questions you should NEVER ask veterans include:

  • What type of discharge did you receive?
  • Are you to be called up for duty anytime soon?
  • Did you experience any combat operations?
  • How could you leave your family while you were deployed?
  • Have you ever killed anyone?
  • Do you have post-traumatic stress disorder?

Making a Decision

If you feel like the veteran you interviewed for the position is simply not the right fit, you shouldn’t feel obligated to hire a veteran just because they are veteran. However, you do need to take special factors into consideration when it comes to making a final decision on whether you should hire a veteran:

  • Did the veteran progress throughout his/her military career?
  • Identify the strengths such as leadership, accountability and team building
  • Look for compatibility — did the veteran match their military skills with the position?
  • Remember veterans have a myriad of soft skills, like leadership and flexibility
  • Veterans possess skills that can make them some of your best employees

Make sure that whatever your decision for hiring, that you hire the veteran because they are the best candidate. In the end, it will be the most beneficial to the employer and employee alike.

Sources: Obama White House Archives, Department of Veteran Services Ohio

Taking the Initial Steps to Certification

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Successful businessman clarifying provisions of contract with business partner, discussing terms of agreement, explaining strategy or financial plan

By Natalie Rodgers

If you’re a business owner, then you may already be aware of the basics of Veteran-Owned (VOBE) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVOBE) business certifications. But going through the process to actually obtain the certification can be daunting, especially when considering the paperwork and fees that often go into the process. However, even if your business is thriving by your standards, earning your certification can take your business to new heights. Some of the benefits that certification can bring to your business include:

Funding Opportunities

Money is helpful no matter what kind of business you run, and certification opens the doors to funding opportunities that other businesses can’t access. Every year the government puts aside 23 percent of all of their contracts for small businesses, with 3 percent of that total going specifically towards VOBE and SDVOBE businesses. However, to be eligible to compete for these funds, you have to be a VOBE or SDVOBE certified business. Depending on the network you use to earn your certification, you may also become eligible for other funding opportunities through your certifier.

Corporate Partnerships

Businesses work with other companies all the time, but what a lot of people don’t know is that big name, Fortune 500 companies are often looking to work with minority, women and veteran-owned businesses to increase their supplier diversity efforts. To find these small businesses, these companies go directly to small business certifiers like NAVOBA, the SBA and the VA. When you become VOBE or SDVOBE certified, you will be given access to networking opportunities that could gain you a deal with some of the biggest businesses in the country. These kinds of partnerships can lead to an increase of sales and publicity. Some of the top corporations who have dedicated their efforts to work with veteran-owned businesses include USAA, JPMorgan, FedEx, Lowe’s, T-Mobile, Hilton, Ford and many more.

Resources Galore

Even if you aren’t looking for government funding or corporate partnerships, certification can still benefit your business in tremendous ways. By becoming certified, you gain access to courses, classes, conferences and networking opportunities that can help you grow your business in every aspect. Through whichever certifier you choose, you can learn the best methods of filing your business taxes, handling payroll, marketing your brands, working with social media and so much more.

Veteran Connections

Being certified not only allows you to connect with big-name companies but to other veteran-owned businesses and the customers that support them. When you become certified, you have the perfect platform for connecting with other veterans on their entrepreneurial journey. This can lead to potential business partnerships, mentoring opportunities or even just friendships with other veterans.

So How Do I Get Started?

If the benefits of becoming certified are enticing, but you’re feeling overwhelmed by what may be required of you, remember that you are not alone. If hundreds of veteran-owned businesses across the country can become certified, then you can too. To simplify the process, start with our preparation guide.

  1. Choose the certification that’s right for you. This will depend on your business and your needs.

For those interested in federal contracts, try:

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs: vetbiz.va.gov/vip

For those interested in private contracts, try:

  • National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA): apps.adaptone.com/navoba
  • National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC): nvbdc.org/certification-landing-page
  1. Gather your documents. The kinds of documents you need will depend on your specific program, but just about any certifier you choose will need the following:
  • Government issued ID
  • Your resume
  • Past tax returns
  • Articles of organization or incorporation
  • Operating agreement
  • Your DD214
  • Payroll information
  • VA Disability Documentation (SDVOSB certification)
  1. Utilize your certifying organization’s contacts. If you run into any trouble during the application process or just need clarity on what to do next, feel free to reach out to your organization via the email or telephone number provided on their website. They are willing to assist and want to help you get your certification.

 

Sources: NaVOBA, US Chamber, Fulton Bank, Veteran Owned Business Round Table, Indeed

The NMSDC Equity Honors 2023–Applications Now Open

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The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Equity Honors awards are presented to corporate chief officers who have been recognized by their peers as the true leaders at the vanguard of economic equity and minority business integration.

Submit an application for your CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, CMO, CDO, and CPO of the Year. All applications* must be started** by Dec. 20 to be considered.

Submit Application Here!

*Qualified applications submitted for The Equity Honors in 2022 have been cloned for consideration for the 2023 Equity Honors. Simply log into the NMSDC Awards Portal and update your application, then submit. Previous winners of The Equity Honors are ineligible to apply again for a minimum of 3 years.

**We will reopen the applications in March of 2023 to collect 2022 comparative data that will complete the application. All applications that have been started by Dec. 20 will constitute The Equity Honors Nominees for 2023 with nominees highlighted on the Forum website and invited to the 2023 Minority Business Economic Forum.

For more information about NMSDC visit, nmsdc.org

Women Leaders at Bloomberg From Around the World Share Their Career Experiences

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With offices around the world, Bloomberg provides its employees with opportunities to hone their skills and expertise, progress to new roles, take on stretch assignments, and gain valuable insights through their work.


Below, a few of our female leaders share their career experiences, including working in different offices, experiencing new cultures, building support networks, and their advice on how to progress, professionally and personally.

 

Rieko Tada

Pictured top left
Data training & development
Dubai

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at multiple offices in different business units and meet amazing colleagues and managers who support me. Most pivotal was probably the move from the Tokyo office to New York as a team leader. The office and business size, language, and lifestyle are so different. I had to learn and adapt. Managers and colleagues in New York welcomed and helped me; colleagues in Tokyo connected me to their networks so that I could build new relationships with people in the US office.

What piece of advice would you give to others?

Always be curious. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people you can build connections with and learn from. This year, I’ve taken on a new role, joining the Data Training and Development team in Dubai. When I was in Japan, I never imagined living in Dubai, but new opportunities always come up, as long as we are inquisitive and never stop learning.

We work on purpose. Come find yours.

SEARCH JOBS

Yinka Ibukun

Pictured top middle
West Africa bureau chief
Accra, Ghana

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

Seeking out feedback. Most people find it difficult to give candid feedback, so it helps to show that you’re open to it. Also, training your ear to sift out emotions and other distractions and extracting information you can actually use will help you become a better professional, and person. Both my best managers and closest friends have been people who give helpful feedback. I think that’s a gift.

What piece of advice would you give to others?

I definitely have my community: people who I trust to have my back and who can rely on me to do the same. That comes from investing in relationships over time. So, when you make a strong connection with someone, don’t take that for granted. Build your community.

Andrea Jaramillo

Bureau chief
Pictured top right
Bogota, Colombia

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

I can’t stress enough how important teamwork is in what we do. Throughout my years at Bloomberg, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of amazing people across different countries and cultures. With each role, you develop new skills and learn from those around you. So even when things feel difficult and challenging, just know you’ll come out stronger on the other side!

What piece of advice would you give to others?

Be open to taking on new challenges. Bloomberg is an exciting place to work, one where you know you can’t get too comfortable in one spot because things change and you might find yourself taking on a different role, or one in a different office, country or continent. In an ever-moving world, we constantly need to reinvent ourselves and learn along the way.

Carolina Millan

Pictured bottom left
Bureau chief
Buenos Aires, Argentina

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

I started as an intern in 2015 in New York and in September of that year I moved to Argentina to cover markets, first with a focus on bonds, and later dedicating more time to publicly-traded companies. Since 2019, I’ve overseen Bloomberg’s coverage of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, managing a team of six talented journalists who routinely break news on the biggest stories in the country.

When I look back to things that helped me advance in my career, I think about the importance of being open to new projects and opportunities and putting my hand up to participate. Bloomberg is a very fast-paced environment, where priorities and internal structures change every few years, and it’s important to be flexible and find ways to contribute to the latest projects. In my case, that has meant everything from jumping to cover regional conferences, moderating panel events, doing live radio and TV hits for Bloomberg shows, developing local Spanish-language coverage, and delving into new key coverage areas, like start-ups.

I also feel grateful to my managers and mentors, who encouraged me to get involved with projects beyond my comfort zone, take on different responsibilities, and consider the jump into a management role.

Merry Zhang

Pictured bottom left
Head of China Market Specialists
Shanghai

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

Not shying away from challenges. In my career, I’ve needed to face gaps and problems beyond my primary responsibilities many times. And, while I might not be the expert to solve a problem, I never shy away from it. As long as a challenge is crucial to the business, I always speak up, take full ownership, and move forward to solve it.

What piece of advice would you give to others?

See changes as opportunities. At Bloomberg, changes happen daily. Market, product, even team structure are constantly evolving.  I have seen people react negatively to changes, but the ones who can turn changes into opportunities are always rewarded at the end.

Alyssa McDonald

Pictured bottom middle
Executive editor, Bloomberg News
Sydney

What has helped you get to where you are today in your career?

A mixture of good luck and hard work. I’m very fortunate to have had supportive bosses throughout my career, who have repeatedly encouraged me to take on new and bigger projects (and helped me find ways to get them done).

For my part, I’ve tried to repay that good will by saying yes to opportunities when they’re offered and then being diligent about getting those things done.

What piece of advice would you give to others?

When you’re looking to change something about your job – whether it’s a new role or a move to a different bureau, you should think about what’s in it for your manager. Or the person you want to be your next manager. The more you can explain how they’ll benefit by giving you what you want, the more likely you are to get it.

Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg.

The Latinx Community’s Growing Influence

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Latina reading magazine

The United States is currently experiencing a massive demographic shift, led in large part by the nation’s Latinx population. This group is growing rapidly, quickly becoming the most culturally and economically influential community in the country.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the country’s Hispanic or Latinx population grew from 50.5 million in 2010 (16.3% of the U.S. population)  to 62.1 million in 2020 (18.7%). That’s an increase of 23 percent. In fact, slightly more than half (51.1%) of the total U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2020 came from growth in the country’s Latinx population.

It is no surprise then, that Latinx people have a massive effect on the U.S. economy. Their buying power is expected to reach $1.9 trillion by 2023, according to a report from Nielsen. This is up from $213 billion in 1990, marking an over 200% growth rate, more than double the growth in buying power of non-Latinx consumers.

This community’s economic influence reaches all industries, and it is critical that businesses gain a deeper understanding of Latinx culture. Doing so will allow business leadership to both better support employees and more effectively appeal to customers.

Understanding the Hypercultural Latinx individual

Among young Latinx people, there has been a rise in what is known as the “Hypercultural Latinx.”

Hypercultural Latinx people are often first-generation Americans who straddle both U.S. culture and their parents’ native Hispanic cultures. This group feels deeply connected to both aspects of their identities and has, in a sense, created their own blended, hybrid culture. As Ilse Calderon, an investor at OVO Fund, wrote on TechCrunch, a Hypercultural Latinx person is “100% Hispanic and 100% American.”

So, what do they want to buy? While Latinx people are clearly not a monolith, there are a few key trends across the community. According to research in the PwC Consumer

Intelligence Series, the Latinx population is especially enticed by new tech products. They are active on TikTok and exceedingly more likely to use WhatsApp and other social media platforms than other groups.

Nielsen also found that 45% of Latinx consumers buy from brands whose social values and causes align with theirs. This is 17% higher than the general population. Latinx people also share strong family values, as well as pride in their distinct cultural heritages. That is why organizations must engage the Latinx community and invite Latinx people to share their experiences.

It is pivotal that business leaders understand that “Latinx” is not a single streamlined culture. Rather, it is a diverse mix of traditions, nationalities, and values.

Embracing these cultural nuances is a key to understanding Latinx audiences. Organizations must consider methods to appeal to distinct Latinx groups, rather than marketing to the group as a whole.

Cultivating and advancing Latinx talent in the workplace

It isn’t only consumers that businesses should be thinking about. Latinx talent has also accounted for a massive 75% of U.S. labor force growth over the past six years, according to Nielsen. Nevertheless, only 3.8% of executive positions are held by Latinx men, and only 1.5% of are held by Latinx women.

Clearly, companies have a lot of work to do to attract and cultivate Latinx talent—and it all starts with recruitment. To ensure a diverse work force, companies must utilize culturally competent recruitment strategies that not only make new positions appealing to a variety of job seekers, but also give every applicant a fair chance.

According to an article in Hispanic Executive, understanding cultural differences can help recruiters create job descriptions that more effectively appeal to different communities. For example, the Latinx community feels a more communal sense of identity, compared to the more individualistic sense of identity in European-American culture. Recruiters should keep this in mind when thinking about what necessary skills they are highlighting for available roles.

Click here to read the complete article on Bloomberg.

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