“When I think about solving problems on a team, it’s important to be inclusive from the start. There’s no way to be impactful as a global company without it.”

When Colombian-born Joseph Sefair interviewed at Microsoft fresh out of graduate school, he was not expecting to get the job. Twenty-two years later, he continues to advocate for recruiting people from around the globe.

I earned my Master’s Degree in 2000 and I set out to land a job in Industrial Engineering. After being introduced to Microsoft at a job fair, I interviewed for a Software Engineer position and to my surprise, was hired on the spot. I remember not expecting to get the position and thinking that it was not possible for someone like me, coming from Colombia.

Early on in my role, I built an application designed to help my team understand the areas where we were experiencing the most blockers. Based on the data we collected in the app, I was able to make recommendations on how we could reduce the amount of time it took to send a product to a customer. The experience of building the app and having it be useful to my team completely opened me up to sharing my ideas.

Now, 22 years into my career at Microsoft, I’m currently a Group Software Engineering Manager on Amplify, a team focused on analyzing global customer data and using it to create better products. Now when I look back, my diverse background in Industrial Engineering where I took a number of courses that expanded my experience, for instance, in Business Administration, helped me advance quickly to leadership positions at Microsoft. The people, the culture, and the technical challenges are what continue to draw me to working here at Microsoft. I feel like I’m playing with a new toy every day.

When I think about solving problems on a team, it’s important to be inclusive from the start. There’s no way to be impactful as a global company without it. That means, for example, including a racially and gender diverse team from the beginning — starting at the brainstorming phase through design through completion.

As the worldwide chair of HOLA, one of Microsoft’s Employee Resource Groups dedicated to supporting the continued growth and development of Latinx/Hispanic employees, I believe it’s key for Microsoft—a global company—to continue recruiting people from around the globe. The ability to be respectful of other cultures, to learn about other cultures, and to include other cultures in the conversation and in business decisions — is a must. Right now, we have programs designated specifically for hiring Latinx people and growth among our Latinx team members. I believe that hiring people from all cultural backgrounds and all gender backgrounds makes for such a rich story overall.

Recently, we had a Latinx person join my team as a data scientist. When asked questions during the interview, he would respond using the word “we.” “We did this” and “We achieved this.” I explained to the hiring team that in my cultural background, we do not like to brag. We use the word “we” because it’s not easy for us to say “I.” That’s just one example of why it’s important to bring cultural awareness into the hiring process when considering a person’s skills and ability to perform a job.

For more stories like Joseph’s visit: aka.ms/InclusionIsInnovation/HispanicAndLatinx