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Developing Leaders with HITEC Heart of Housing

by Lucy Elliott, Director of Project Management, Technology Business Management

Lucy ElliotA little more than three years ago, Fannie Mae entered into a partnership with the Hispanic Information Technology Executive Council (HITEC), and I believe, it has made a lasting impact on both of our organizations. As a Latina member of a technology team within Fannie Mae, I was part of our first cohort to attend a summit. I remember the night before the summit I to spoke to my mother, and I confessed that I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that it was an organization for Hispanics in technology, and that summit would be the first time that I was surrounded by that many Latinos who weren't my family!

That was true, but what was also true was that it was an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to network with so many leaders in technology, and that initial point of contact expanded to become an integral part of the diversity and inclusion efforts at Fannie Mae. It also served as a source for my own professional development, as I graduated from HITEC's Emerging Executive Program in 2017.

Now, our Fannie Mae cohort meets monthly, at what we call our "HITEC Huddles." At these meetings, we discuss ways to bring back what we've learned from the summits, as a way to give back to the community. We seek opportunities for professional development and support our Hispanic Employee Resource Group (ERG) as well as other Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) initiatives. My role, as the internal program lead of the Hispanic ERG, is to work closely with our Executive Sponsor, with the cohort, and with the D&I team within the Chief Operating Officer division to help develop our annual internal plan for opportunities for our employees.

I'm happy to report that we've developed some staple events. After every summit, we host "teach back" sessions for our employees. We have tried a few formats: presentations, panel discussions, and networking lunches. I'm pleased to say that each session generates greater demand! Most recently, we highlighted many of the key topics from the HITEC summit at Microsoft: cultural change, innovation, professional development, accessibility, and cybersecurity. The team prepared content which led to some lively table discussions. These sessions inspired my colleagues to join events hosted by our group, and to apply to attend future HITEC summits.

We're also proud to host a Robotics Day, an event where we invite high school students to Fannie Mae for a day spent coding, robotics, and networking with professionals. While students learn the basics of artificial intelligence and coding, it's also a chance for them to consider careers in STEM, to connect with us, and potentially, find mentors.

Most recently, as part of our Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, we hosted speaking engagements at Fannie Mae with two HITEC members. Dr. Robert Rodriguez presented a fire side chat at our first HITEC Regional Networking Event for the Metro DC area. Local members were invited to join Fannie Mae employees to learn how diversity can drive innovation and then to network. Then, the Hispanic ERG invited HITEC member Cindy Healy, of Microsoft, to close our recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month which her presentation "From Mars to Microsoft." Cindy shared her career journey from working on NASA's Mars Pathfinder program to her role at Microsoft and stops in-between. These speakers built internal enthusiasm for HITEC's mission while also providing interesting professional development opportunities for our colleagues.

Developing Leaders with HITEC

Our cohort works in different parts of our organization, but we take to heart the idea of supporting each other. We take the chance to talk about our involvement with HITEC to increase awareness and support the professional development of our teams. When groups need speakers, we suggest people we have met at summits to highlight Latino talent. We work with groups like Don Bosco Christo Ray, the Latino Student Fund, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers – DC to introduce students to STEM and share our experiences of being a Hispanic in technology.

As we often hear, "you can't be what you don't see." Our team is increasing the visibility of Hispanics in the workplace at Fannie Mae, and we're serving as a role models to the community. The partnership between Fannie Mae and HITEC continues to be a beneficial tool in meeting that goal.

Join a team who values inclusion, and develops future leaders. Visit our career site to learn more about life at Fannie Mae, to search for your next career opportunity!