Meet one of the women of technology from Latin America. My interview with Angela Nieto was so captivating. I really admired how humble and honest she was with her responses. My favorite part of this interview was the video recording, where she quoted an excerpt from one of her favorite poems. It was such a heartfelt and touching moment for me.
Born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Ángela Nieto, VPS of Technology Banco BHD León, is a woman who is very passionate about her work, and has been breaking gender paradigms in male-dominated industries.
In this interview, we will get to know her up close and personal. She will tell us about her career, from how she got started in banking technology, how her husband is her biggest fan, how BHD Leon supports women entrepreneurs, to her recommendations on how to manage during the current pandemic.
Enjoy, Embrace, Empower!
First, a little background:
How did you start your career in banking and technology?
I started in banking, 21 years ago, working in the area of Continuous Improvement. After that, I went to Projects and eventually to Technology. I have to admit that I never imagined I would end up developing and working in technology. But when you step into this world, you fall in love with it.
Do you have any particular memory from your early career years?
I have many fond memories. I began to work at a very young age; my first job was in a factory, where I was the ONLY woman in the plant. Working amongst more than 100 men. Everyone was surprised to see me there, but within time, they got used to it and they saw my potential. Eventually, I gained the trust of the 100 people (men) that were always caring for me.
Tell us a little bit about your day-to-day in BHD Léon.
I am the Vice-President of Technology at Banco BHD Léon, and I enjoy my work so much that I have no time to be bored. My day-to-day includes a lot of meetings (my daughter always says to me that they are so many that there is no time to work). I am constantly in touch with my team so that we are all in alignment and I love to participate in project reviews to see how far we have advanced.
We are glad to see that BHD León has many innovative products specially designed for women. What has been your experience in launching these products in the Dominican Republic?
Yes, BHD León initially launched the “The Woman Credit Card”, with a very attractive value proposition (for insurance, assistance, and special discounts and offers in select stores).
Our bank has strongly supported and believed in women since 2015, when we adopted a strategic gender initiative intending to support women in their different roles as a social and productive entity, based on three key components: a value proposition for clients through products and services, the internal practice of gender equality and actions of social interest.
We believe in recognizing the huge contribution that they make in our society and the results have been extremely positive, that is why we continue to strengthen our offer.
“Our bank has strongly supported and believed in women since 2015, when we adopted a strategic gender initiative intending to support women.”
What are the challenges that a woman faces today?
I think that we have achieved so much, but it still exist some difficulties to say that there is “gender equality”. The reality is some people still look and treat us as if we should be in the background.
I in particular have had many opportunities and very few issues for being a woman, but I know that is not the norm in our society.
All of us should learn to support each other and understand that this should stop being a fight between men and women. We complement each other and should learn to make the best of our differences.
How can women make an impact in today’s society?
All human beings must always give all that they have to the betterment of the society where it lives. As women, we must support each other; we need to understand that each of us has different goals and aspirations. Some of us want to get married, others do not, some want to work, some do not and some want to have children and some others do not but none of us is wrong and all must make an effort to achieve the different goals we have set for our lives.
“All of us should learn to support each other and understand that this should stop being a fight between men and women. We complement each other and should learn to make the best of our differences.”
How do you maintain a balance between your work, your family, and free time?
Is there such a thing as balance? I think that the key is in defining priorities, knowing what are you willing to sacrifice, and whatnot. And keeping in touch, my family knows they come first but they also recognize that there are moments when my work requires all my attention. They know this and above all, they support me.
How do you set aside work?
I don’t think that I ever set aside work, I’m always trying to focus on what I am doing at the moment, and when I’m outside I search for totally different things. I love to read and when I want to disconnect I reach to mystery books. I also enjoy embroidery and crafts (I am all old school). I love music and I listen to all kinds of music, it is a wonderful way to disconnect.
What are you passionate about?
Traveling! I love to see and experience new things. I enjoy everything, from the planning to the post-travel histories.
Has anyone ever looked down on you or humiliated you? Or have you been told that you cannot achieve your goals?
I believe we’ve all experienced that at one point or another.
I remember when I went I started to work in technology they told me that I had no future in that area because my background was not “technical”. Well… luckily they were wrong.
Name someone who inspires you
My father. He is the person I most admire and respect in the world, his opinion is very important in everything I do.
“I remember when I started to work in technology they told me that I had no future in that area because my background was not “technical”. Well… luckily they were wrong.”
Tell us something special about the Dominican Republic.
Everyone says that we have the best beaches, so I am going to tell you that I love visiting the mountains, where you can enjoy the country and the cold weather (Yes! There is cold weather in the Dominican Republic). As the advertisement says, The Dominican Republic has everything!
Angela’s tips for the pandemic
In this global Pandemic situation, as a woman in leadership, could you share some advice on how you are giving emotional support to your work team, family, friends, and clients?
The first thing is to keep all communication channels open. At this moment, we need to keep connected, even if it seems difficult; to listen more, try to accept that not everyone is handling this situation the same way.
Everyone is learning, and could be having a hard time with what is not set in stone. We need to understand that our clients have uncertainties, the same with our work team and our partners.
We should exploit all the tools that allow us to communicate and try to keep in contact, make everyone know that, even if we can’t be in close contact, we are just a call, a WhatsApp, or video call away.
“In this moment, we need to keep connected, even if it seems difficult; to listen, and try to accept that not everyone is handling this situation the same way.”
In what way are you coaching your work team to be more sympathetic in this global emergency?
I try to set an example, transmitting hope, being grateful for every little gift that life gives us, and motivate them to give the best every day.
We have the luck to be in a company that gives us the chance to continue our activities remotely, and that has taken all the necessary measures to ensure the wellbeing of those in close contact with our clients. While keeping with the current situation and giving solutions to help the country overcome this situation.
Being part of this exemplary company, we cannot do less, we must do our job with more warmth than ever and we should always think about how our influence can help our community and peers.
Today more than ever, we have to make empathy our flag.
How do you think women handle crises different from men?
I don’t like comparisons between men and women because it gives the sensation of a rivalry and that shouldn’t be. We complement each other and we should always see it that way.
It is easier for women to execute without thinking about politics and in a moment of crisis, this is a plus. On a general note, women aren’t afraid to say that they don’t know something and in this circumstance, we are all learning.
Women are also more emotional, and that helps us to understand all the feelings in us and within all those around us.
There will be days where you will be afraid, and that’s fine, and there will be days in which you are going to be tired and that’s also fine. We should allow ourselves the space to cry if we feel like releasing some emotions, keeping in mind that that we can’t be crying all day because there is so much to do.’