CHICAGO, November 6, 1998 — Microsoft’s highest-ranking Hispanic executive met today with more than 50 Juarez High School students, encouraging them to pursue information-technology careers and to help close the cyber-gap in the Hispanic community. Orlando Ayala, Microsoft’s senior vice president for the Americas and South Pacific, today talked about his personal experiences as a Latino in the world of high technology, including his work with Microsoft to bring software to Hispanic markets.
“The Latin American market is the fastest growing in the world, which is creating numerous opportunities for Hispanics in the high-tech industry — and a college degree combined with technology experience is the best bet to break into the industry,” Ayala told the high-schoolers from Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. “My own experience leads me to the conclusion that Hispanics are under represented in the technology industry because we do not choose to enter the field, and that means the industry suffers. The students at high schools like Juarez are the next generation of Hispanic workers, and we want to be sure that we get the best and the brightest minds early so they will consider careers in technology.”
Ayala told students they don’t have to look any farther than Chicago and surrounding suburbs if they are interested in pursuing technology careers such as designing and managing computer networks; building computers; writing software; or providing information-technology support and consulting. Citing data from the Illinois portion of the Microsoft High Tech Entrepreneurs Study, Ayala said a new generation of tech-savvy, skilled workers are needed for Illinois’ growing technology industry. At the end of 1997, there were nearly 15,500 openings in Illinois for workers with technology skills — and more than 12,600 of those vacancies were in the Chicago metropolitan area, according to the study.
After hearing about some of the new technology projects underway at Juarez High School, Ayala encouraged students to continue to make the most of the technology classes and projects available to them through school and the community. The computer club at Juarez recently began creating a CD-ROM yearbook for their school, which will include photos taken by students with digital cameras. The project is part of their participation in Project Impact, a statewide Technology Literacy Challenge Grant from the Illinois State Board of Education that helps high schools from around the state build their technology capacity through student training, mentoring and leadership. In addition, the student newspaper staff is working with Highwired.net, an online publishing system for high schools that will allow them to post their school news alongside other high school newspapers at the Highwired.net Web site .
“Juarez High School is proud of our students’ interest in learning new technology skills and participating in projects that strengthen the school community,” said Principal Misael Alonso. “Our goal is to teach students basic computer literacy and provide them with the opportunity to work on innovative projects using technology. Contacts with role models, like Orlando Ayala, help them see that there are many careers where they can use these skills.
Ayala has dedicated his career to bringing software technology to Latin American markets and communicating with Hispanics and other minorities about the many benefits of computers and the Internet. Currently Ayala oversees the sales, marketing, services and support of Microsoft products in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.
Earlier today in Chicago, the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE) honored Ayala with a National Salute to Excellence Award, which recognizes Hispanic executives who are making significant contributions in the public and private sectors. HACE is a non-profit professional and development organization that provides access for Hispanic professionals to organizations, strengthening the foundation for economic and professional advancement of the Hispanic community.