Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Hector Vilchis, our Head of Cultural Markets.
Hector Vilchis describes his upbringing as “bicultural and bilingual.” He spent the first 13 years of his life in Tijuana, Mexico, before his parents moved him and his older brother Gabriel to San Diego so they could attend high school and college in the US.
While living in Mexico, Vilchis often traveled to the US to help his father with his family’s office equipment business and credits learning salesmanship by working with his dad.
Vilchis recently moved into a 19th Century home in Litchfield County, Connecticut, after many years of apartment dwelling in New York City. He also traded in his MetroCard for car keys and now drives to our Westchester office.
We sat down with Vilchis to talk about his new role, his team, and how he got to where he is today.
You’ve been with New York Life for 17 years and have had several roles. Tell us about your new position and responsibilities.
I’m Vice President in Agency for Target Markets and Recruiting Strategy, and I lead the Cultural Markets group, which focuses on the African American, Chinese, Latino, Korean, South Asian, and Vietnamese markets. Our mission is to help General Offices across the country grow in agent hiring, retention, and manpower, and sales and agent productivity in all of these markets.
How have you navigated your career and found opportunities for advancements within the company?
I’ve practically grown up at New York Life, and I believe there are several traits that have helped my career: adaptability, communication and relationship building, service orientation, coachability, situational awareness, and creativity. An important practice I’ve always tried to employ is to do what’s expected of my role to the best of my ability while trying to understand and anticipate what may be driving decisions, needs, or perspectives from a higher level. I constantly ask myself, How would I see this situation or decision if I were several layers above in the organization?
What would you like to share about your roles within the Latino Market and as former co-chair of the New York Life Latino Employee Resource Group (ERG)?
It's been very rewarding seeing Latino families learn how to plan for their financial well-being and develop a culture of financial savvy through the work our agents do—and also to see Latino youth develop leadership skills and enthusiasm for higher education through the work we’ve been able to do in the Latino ERG thanks to the New York Life Foundation's support of the 4-H Juntos program which focuses on providing leadership and educational support to high potential underprivileged Latino middle school students.
Were there any significant turning points in your career?
I would say two important turning points. First was earning my MBA which I completed at NYU while already working at New York Life. The exposure and perspectives I gained, particularly in terms of strategic thought and business decisions at the enterprise level allowed me to contribute at a higher level in my positions. Second was participating in the Accelerated Leadership Program at New York Life. This time around, more than strategy and business management, the lessons were centered on leading and managing people, which is critical at this time in my career.
What do you like to do outside the office?
I like to run in the summer and eat in the winter! I like to explore new places, near and far, particularly since I’m new to Connecticut. I also like to read and take trips to California to see family—and my dad and I take an annual vacation together. I’m looking forward to trying my hand at a hobby I learned with my dad when I was growing up—restoring old wood furniture.
Is there a cause that’s important to you?
I have two: the cure for cancer and education. My mom died of cancer at the age of 47, so I’m a big advocate of prevention and early detection. I look forward to the day when cancer is a thing of the past.
I was encouraged to attend college—actually it was insisted upon me—and I was awarded scholarships that helped me get started. I may not have pursued the path I did had it not been for a high school teacher who guided my dad and me through the process shortly after my mom died.
So now I look for opportunities to speak to youth about the importance of education. For example, this summer I’m going to speak to the graduating class of the 4-H Juntos Middle School program in North Carolina.
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