Having a community at work is vital for career success. At The Hartford, we nurture a sense of family through informal relationships and formal networking groups.
Finding connections like these is one of the reasons Irma Rivera loves working at The Hartford. She has a track record of success throughout her 18 years at the company, earning several technology certifications along the way and holding a number of leadership positions, including her current role as Manager of Network Services.
As an active member of our Women in Technology (WiT) Network, Irma leads a team that coordinates external partnerships, where she engages with outside organizations like schools and other professional networks to inspire, attract, and develop talent for The Hartford. Irma creates this broader community alongside her team of eight, which includes release train engineer Leslie Sanchez.
“I’ve been a member of WiT for a few years but was looking to get more involved. I’ve worked with Irma in the past and she is definitely a role model I look up to, so when she suggested getting involved to help coordinate external partnerships, I said yes,” Leslie says. “Being a part of the WiT community has allowed me to network and meet people from other parts of the company that I might not otherwise have the opportunity to interact with. It has also allowed me to grow professionally and personally in a safe and supported way.”
Aside from WiT, Irma is also a member of our Hispanic Leadership Network (HLN) Employee Resource Group, whose mission is to empower Hispanic and Latinx talent through professional growth opportunities and building a sense of familia (or family).
“La familia is the core of Latinx and Hispanic identity. It involves two key aspects from our culture: close relations and connections between individuals, and a high level of commitment to look out for the well-being of the unit and its members,” says Andres Pelaez, a claims performance and analytics director who also leads HLN for the company. “Just like familia constitutes the nucleus of a society, the strong connection that exists within our members is the nucleus of HLN.”
HLN is one of nine Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at The Hartford whose members weigh in on business opportunities, enable talent outcomes and build stronger relationships with one another – ultimately helping shape the workplace, marketplace and workforce. “Employee Resource Groups offer a safe place for employees to connect and network with others, share their perspectives on a variety of topics, and develop professionally,” says Miranda Bennett-King, director of inclusion initiatives. “They are an important component of The Hartford’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy because they aid in our efforts to foster a fully inclusive work culture.”
Irma shares how she has thrived both professionally and personally with the support of several communities – all of which feel like family.
How has the HLN helped you cultivate a sense of authenticity and a feeling of family?
I’ve always believed in being my authentic self. My desire to be authentic is confirmed by The Hartford’s sponsorship of an ERG like HLN. And hearing others talk about how they’ve grown to be authentic with their teammates and leaders is confirmation to me that how I feel and what I’m doing is supported both by the company and by other people within the ERG. Our motto is “HLN is familia,” and our Latin culture is very much like that – people who know me know they will always be included.
What is an example of how you’ve seen the HLN create business impact?
What I’ve found by joining and having a chance to express who I am and what I do is that people reach out to me and ask questions about IT. I’ve had people set up one-on-one meetings with me because they want to explore and understand the technology side, even when they are part of other teams. For me, I see that as helping people’s careers, and from a business impact perspective, it’s opening innovative discussions.
How has the WiT Network helped expand your leadership skills?
It has opened up an opportunity for me to be a leader in that group and get a chance to work with people outside of my normal circle. I’ve met other women leaders and heard their stories, so it has strengthened my commitment to invest in my learnings and take expansion opportunities.
The WiT Network also allowed me to encourage others to join. I’ve had two people that never thought about joining WiT and volunteering their time who are now part of my team.
It also made me realize that people do see me as a leader. Being part of these programs helps me understand that others are watching and depending on my leadership to move things forward, so I’m always cognizant of that, be it in my job or when I’m speaking on a panel.
How have other women in the WiT Network inspired you or supported you?
These women are very passionate in their belief of helping one another or encouraging others to be their best. This year, I was asked to speak at the Latinas & Power Symposium, and when I shared it with some of these women, they encouraged and congratulated me – some even signed up to support me. It was great to see familiar faces during my session.
You’re also part of The Hartford’s IT Sponsorship Program. How has the program and your relationship with your sponsor benefitted you?
It’s giving me visibility because my sponsor, a vice president of IT management, is advocating for me at the leadership level and encouraging me to set up one-on-one meetings with leaders. His sponsorship confirms the leadership qualities that I see in myself. My sponsor actively represents me by reminding his peers that I might be a fit for opportunities that arise.
How have these groups provided an opportunity for you to give back?
When I’ve shared my story with people, one of the things they’ve said is I’m approachable, so it has opened up opportunities for others to reach out to ask sensitive questions and discuss topics they wouldn’t bring into an open discussion.
The other part is giving back to the community, be it through a Women in Technology panel discussion or speaking to nonprofit organizations. People are attracted when they see others like them being represented in companies. I’m very passionate when I speak. It excites me when I know younger Latinas ae in the audience and to receive their expressions when they hear me speak about my personal experience or the field of technology. To know that somebody else is getting encouraged in their career, or maybe somebody had never even thought about a career in technology until they heard me speak, that for me is a way to give back. I’m giving back my time to these communities, making a commitment to them and helping elevate women overall.
Learn more about an exciting career in Tech & Data at The Hartford.