News Column

Tech Edge: Hispanic Executives Stay Connected with High-Tech Gadgets

November 2007, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine

Hildy Medina

Blackberry 8820 (left) and HP iPAQ hw6900 smartphones.
Blackberry 8820 (left) and HP iPAQ hw6900 smartphones.

Using an electronic address book to make a phone call was once as likely as making a call on a toaster. But with today's mobile technology and its global network abilities, traveling Hispanic executives are always instantly connected, which is essential in today's fast economy.

Among the Hispanic C-level executives we interviewed from an array of industries, most preferred using a smart phone a personal digital assistant (PDA) that doubles as a cell phone. Their favorite PDA by far is the BlackBerry, a product created by Research In Motion Ltd.

From the founder of a nonprofit to the head of a multimillion-dollar engineering firm, the Hispanic executives we spoke to have one or more wireless devices that play a critical role in their day-to-day living.

"I'm glued to my BlackBerry, 24/7," said Roxana Lissa, president of RL Public Relations & Marketing. "I'm bi-coastal, so it's very important that I am always connected. Today, when I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is get on my BlackBerry, not my computer."

In the last several years, the newer generation of hand-held devices has gone from executive accessory to executive necessity.

And for the mobile Hispanic executive doing business halfway around the world, the BlackBerry 8830, is the ideal traveling assistant.

Enrique Tessada, CEO of Tessada & Associates and the 2006 Hispanic Business EOY Award winner, which honors entrepreneurial excellence, has been a dedicated BlackBerry user for nearly 10 years.

"We've become so dependent on e-mails, that's one of the reasons why I have a BlackBerry," says Mr. Tessada, speaking from his BlackBerry while vacationing on the Greek island of Santorini. "I just got the international BlackBerry (8830) to keep in contact with the office."

Mr. Tessada can make calls in more than 100 countries and receive e-mails in 60 countries from his favorite tech gadget.

"I'm very happy with it," he adds.

Like most busy Hispanic executives, George Pla, CEO and founder of Cordoba Corp., a civil engineering and construction management firm that ranks No. 168 on the Hispanic Business 500, is constantly on the move.

Having the mobile technology that allows him to conduct business from his car or off site allows him to use his time more efficiently.

"I'm calling you on my car phone, which is built into the radio," says Mr. Pla, speaking from his Jaguar's hands-free mobile phone. "It's really handy and really convenient for someone that's on the road."

When he's not moving, he uses his BlackBerry 8830 to check and send e-mails and make phone calls.

It wasn't always this way. Mr. Pla initially stayed away from the high-tech gadgets when they were first introduced.

"I happen to think I'm a dinosaur; I didn't even know what Sirius [satellite] radio was until I got into some cars that had it." Mr. Pla says. "When you hang around your colleagues and peers, everyone seems to have the same toys."

Mr. Pla's other favorite toy is Apple's iPod.

"I travel a lot and in all my trips I take my iPod," he says. "I listen to everything from rhythm and blues to Andrea Bocelli and Jose Feliciano."

Ozzie Diaz, chief technologist of mobility and wireless devices at Hewlett-Packard Co., likes being able to mix business and pleasure on his high-tech gadget of choice, so he uses the iPAQ hw6900.

"So many aspects of my life are wrapped around it," says Mr. Diaz, who is speaking on his iPAQ while driving between Hewlett-Packard's offices in Northern California. "I do e-mail, web browsing, and, on weekends, I check what movies are available on Fandango. I can fire up Google or my GPS device. In my connected life, it's as close as can be to a Swiss Army knife."

Like the BlackBerry, the HP iPAQ hw6900, provides users with all the essentials to keep their business and personal life running while on the move, including a cell phone, e-mail, access to Wi-Fi wireless hotspots, data networks, and digital content and services.

The expanding global economy coupled with the new generation of mobile technology is changing the way Hispanic executives do business and how they live, Mr. Diaz says.

"What's happening is it's creating moments of experiences," he explains. "What I mean by that is that during my supposed work day of nine to five, I might get a message from my daughter who is in the U.S. Navy. But on weekends or evenings I'll also get moments of work. I'll get a message on something that I'm working on for Monday's meeting."

For the pre-PDA Hispanic executives, like many interviewed for this story, mobile technology also means having to adapt to a new way of communicating both in their personal and professional lives.

"What's interesting is that all this [technology] came after my peer group, the 50 to 60 [age] range, had established careers," says Helen Hernandez, president and founder of the nonprofit Imagen Foundation and an avid Palm user. "We're all trying to relearn things."

It didn't take long for Ms. Hernandez to warm up to her favorite tech toy, the Palm Treo 650, a combination cell phone, electronic address, and date book.

"I carry my contacts in my Palm Treo. It's an easy way to keep contacts with me at all times," Ms. Hernandez says. "I have over 1,300 contacts in my Palm. If I need anything, from the number to a restaurant to a business associate's e-mail, it's in there. I really depend on it."

But some old habits never die. Ms. Hernandez admits to keeping an At-A-Glance calendar handy for keeping track of meetings and appointments.

"I'm a creature of habit I guess," she says. "It works for me. It's also easier to write in. You need the stick to write on the Palm and you need a lot of patience for that. Patience is not one of my best virtues."

Source: HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine and, Copyright (c) 2007 All Rights Reserved.

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