Hispanic Heritage Month: Influential Latinos And Latinas In Tech

CRN celebrates executives and pioneers from Accenture, Google, HPE, UDT, Tech Data and Cisco.

Inventors of early versions of the airplane and the ebook, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s channel chief, the CEO of a major IT services provider and a key decision-maker at Cisco.

From mechanical book inventor Ángela Ruiz Robles to Cisco chief operating officer Maria Martinez, these are just a sample of the Latinos and Latinas who have made a mark on technology history and continue to serve influential roles in IT and the channel.

But while we celebrate these contributions, it’s important to remember how much work remains to create greater equity in tech.

[RELATED: Black History Month: Celebrating Influential Black Americans In Tech]

Pew Research Center found that Hispanics only make up 8 percent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs despite representing 17 percent of the total workforce. Only 3 percent of Hispanic women hold STEM jobs.

Organizations that seek to increase diversity in the field include Latinas in Tech, Latinos in Tech, Techqueria, TechLatino and the Hispanic IT Executive Council.

Here are some of the Latinos and Latinas that CRN is featuring for their achievements in technology.

Ángela Ruiz Robles

Born in 1895, Ángela Ruiz Robles of Spain invented a precursor to ebook readers in 1949 called the mechanical encyclopedia, according to The Guardian.

The green metal box featured spools, audio, interchangeable reels on different subjects, a magnifying glass screen and light for reading in the dark, according to The Guardian.

Ruiz Robles died in 1975 at the age of 80, according to Google.

Victor Leaton Ochoa

Born in Mexico in 1850, Victor Leaton Ochoa was a revolutionary who once faked his death to escape a $50,000 bounty on his head from Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, according to the Smithsonian Institution.

Ochoa also had a reputation as an inventor, creating the Ochoaplane, a 250-pound early airplane design featuring two bicycle frames and a six-horse power motor, according to the Smithsonian.

He also held patents on electric brakes for street cars, adjustable wrenches, a fountain pen and a pocket pen or pencil clip. He sold a variety of patents in the 1900s, according to the Smithsonian. Ochoa is assumed to have died in 1945.

Guillermo González Camarena

Guillermo González Camarena patented a chromoscopic adapter in 1940 to allow black-and-white cameras to capture color, the first patent in the world for color TV, according to Axios. He was 23 years old.

This invention was later used in 1979 to take pictures of Jupiter by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, according to Nova Southeastern University.

A native of Mexico, González Camarena advocated for using tele-education in medical school and TVs for transmitting educational shows to remote areas of Mexico without access to schools, according to the University of California, Santa Barbara. He died in 1965 in a car accident.

Luis von Ahn

Currently the CEO and co-founder of mobile language learning application Duolingo, Luis von Ahn made his name co-creating the Captcha (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) program for distinguishing humans from machines online to avoid spam.

In 2008, von Ahn founded ReCaptcha, which was acquired by Google the following year. He left Google in 2011 as a staff research scientist to found Duolingo.

Von Ahn grew up in Guatemala, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Duke University in 2000 and a doctorate in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005. That same year, at age 28, he became a MacArthur Fellow for his work in artificial intelligence and natural intelligence.

He is based in Pittsburgh, according to his LinkedIn.

Jesse Chavez

Jesse Chavez’s contributions to the channel go way back. As director of Sun Microsystems’ Global Systems Integrators and Program office in the mid 2000s, Chavez developed and launched a new mid-tier system integrator program, gaining 10 new partners and earning $100 million in incremental revenue, according to his LinkedIn.

He ascended to the role of global vice president of the Partner Sales Organization in 2006. His accomplishments in this role included driving a reorganization of the partner sales channel and increasing indirect revenues from 58 percent to 72 percent while reducing the salesforce by 20 percent, according to his LinkedIn.

Chavez delivered a Sun global partner program on transparency and predictability in the channel and launched the Sun Partner Advantage global partner program across the world. His efforts realized $1.1 billion in incremental revenue over three years from the global system integrators deployed.

Oracle completed its $7 billion-plus acquisition of Sun in 2010, and Chavez became group vice president of worldwide hardware channels for the data and databases technology giant.

In this role, he “generated multi-millions in cost savings by leading a global transformation of a two-tier channel strategy consolidating 146 Oracle and 109 Sun channel distributors” and “reduced channel inventory, realizing a decrease from $120 million to $17 million in inventory in 2010,” according to his LinkedIn.

Chavez joined Hewlett Packard Enterprise in 2012 and remains vice president of its worldwide partner programs and operations, according to his LinkedIn.

Chavez was featured on the 2020 HITEC 100 list by the Hispanic IT Executive Council.

Henry Fleches

Henry Fleches launched Miramar, Fla.-based United Data Technologies (UDT) – a member of CRN’s 2022 Managed Service Provider 500 and No. 125 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500 – from his parents’ house in 1995 with company President Gerard Amaro.

The two men grew the company from a reseller to 300 employees and $300 million in revenue, according to UDT.

Almost 30 years later, the CEO and his team bring cloud, managed services and security for customers, with investment in new capabilities around machine learning, artificial intelligence and analytics.

Fleches’ community service work includes serving as treasurer of the Miami Dade College Foundation, participating in the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and serving on councils and forums for vendors including Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft.

In 2017 and 2018, Fleches was featured on the HITEC 100 list by the Hispanic IT Executive Council.

Tony Ibargüen

Tony Ibargüen got his start in technology selling computers for IBM in the 1980s, eventually becoming president and chief operating officer of distributor Tech Data, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

He led Tech Data – now part of TD Synnex – from 1996 to 2000, according to his LinkedIn. Ibargüen helped Tech Data grow from $3 billion to $17 billion in revenue.

He became CEO of $100 million services provider Alliance Consulting Group in 2004. Four years later, he led Alliance through its sale to Saints Capital, according to his profile on Gabriel Investments.

Ibargüen became a board member of services provider Insight Enterprises in 2008, even serving a brief stint as interim CEO and president.

Today, Ibargüen leads drinking water company Quench USA as CEO and president. He is also a deputy chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s board of directors.

Jorge Benitez

Jorge Benitez migrated with his family to the United States at 10 years old, fleeing Cuba during the “Freedom Flights” program for political refugees, according to the Business Roundtable association.

He managed a McDonald’s while going to college and joined Accenture in 1981. Thirty years later, at age 51, he became U.S. CEO and North America managing director of the global systems integrator, according to the company.

Accenture is No. 1 on CRN’s 2022 Solution Provider 500.

His roles with Accenture included chief operating officer of Accenture’s Products operating group, where he executed strategy for industries such as automotive, travel services, industrial equipment, infrastructure and life sciences.

In 2014, Benitez retired from the CEO role.

Ana Corrales

Ana Corrales is the chief operating officer for Google’s consumer hardware division. But Corrales career start came as a teenager in Costa Rica, when she started a hair scrunchie business and sold it to a grocery store chain, according to Google.

After graduating from college in the 1990s, she took an engineering role with Hewlett-Packard in its network server division, according to her LinkedIn.

She worked her way up at Cisco, eventually achieving the position of senior vice president of product operations. She left Cisco in 2015 and became chief financial and operating officer for Google subsidiary Nest, eventually working her way up to her current role.

Maria Martinez

Raised in Puerto Rico, Maria Martinez’s career in technology started in 1980 with an engineering job at AT&T and Bell Labs, according to Hispanic Executive.

She eventually ascended to the role of corporate vice president at Microsoft, where she was in charge of the wing that provided consulting and product support to large enterprise customers, according to Puget Sound Business Journal. She led a team of 17,000 people.

Martinez next worked at Salesforce for more than eight years, according to her LinkedIn. She left the company with the title of president of global customer success and Salesforce Latin America.

In 2018, Martinez joined Cisco as executive vice president and chief customer experience officer, according to her LinkedIn.

She moved up the ranks to become Cisco’s chief operating officer last year, taking on the role of “building high-value experiences for its customers, partners, and employees,” according to the networking giant.

“Martinez oversees Cisco’s Strategy Execution, Customer Success, Renewals, Customer & Partner Experience, Security & Trust, Supply Chain, IT, Services, and Transformation functions,” according to the company.