The Importance of Inclusivity – An Interview with NY Tech Alliance’s Andy Saldaña

Megan Hopkins

 

Executive Director of NY Tech Alliance Andy Saldaña knows a thing or two about the importance of inclusivity.

In his six years at the nonprofit, Andy has transitioned from an event coordinator to an event director to executive director within the past few months.

In his current role, Andy focuses primarily on partnerships and building additional programming for members.

 

About NY Tech Alliance

NY Tech Alliance, which officially became a nonprofit in 2011, is based in New York, focusing specifically on showcasing amazing tech that’s being created throughout the state.

What started as a small New York tech meetup quickly turned into the world’s largest meetup group with 16,000 members.

The meetups, which have been happening for 14 years and counting, concentrate on real-time tech.

His role with NY Tech Alliance seemed like a natural fit for Andy, who has a background in events, tech and large trade shows.

It’s also allowed him to really discover where his passions lie—so much so that he founded his own nonprofit with a friend.

 

About Queer Tech

Queer Tech is a volunteer-run community advocacy group for members of the LGBTQ community working in the technology sector.

In 2019, the Montreal-based group’s main goal is to grow and increase queer entrepreneurs in the hope that in doing so, they can convert amazing queer artists into amazing professionals.

 

The Importance of Inclusivity in the Hiring Process

With inclusivity as part of his life goal, Andy helps NY Tech Alliance work with other companies to help improve their overall health when it comes to creating an inclusive hiring process.

The biggest step for many companies is to build a sustainable ecosystem, creating access for everyone to be involved.

In a city like NYC, the ecosystem is rich. However, many companies are overlooking employees who may not come from an elite school or possess the skills needed immediately.

But according to Andy, although some employees may need six months of onboarding, they could end up as some of your most valuable, loyal employees.

 

“It frustrates me that people boil things down to the numbers. We are not numbers,” said Andy. “We are human beings. Those relationships take time to cultivate.”

 

Specifically, in the tech industry, many potential candidates aren’t looking for an easy job. They’re looking to be challenged.

So how do you find those employees looking to learn more, become better and end up with a company that fits them perfectly?

 

How to Spot Strong Candidates Who Get Overlooked

Resumes are a particular tricky tool for job candidates.

In today’s market, many hiring managers are overlooking strong candidates that don’t have a degree from a certain elite school.

At NY Tech Alliance, Andy’s job is to train companies to look for talent that exists from life experience, backgrounds, etc.

Andy himself is also a perfect example of someone who has turned life experience into a successful career.

Coming from a big Mexican family, Andy never knew how many event planning skills he was gaining as a child. From quinceañeras to big family get togethers, Andy was constantly helping his mom and always had specific tasks.

This life experience not only helped him create phenomenal events as an adult, but also taught him about finance early on in life.

Andy’s question to others is easy:

You have lived your life; what skills have you attained along the way?

He encourages those seeking employment to communicate in as many different ways as possible.

And as for hiring managers?

You’re not just employing one person, but a diverse group of human beings.

 

Looking Ahead Into 2019

Andy sees a few trends on the forefront. While dependent on the market, Andy believes New York City companies will be looking for elite developers.

He notes that the landscape will become more competitive than it already is.

His hope is that companies start to transition back toward a more traditional hiring process, looking at a person and not just at paper.

With so many open tech positions, Andy notes that the NYC hiring rate won’t slow and will, in fact, continue to increase.

The type of jobs that are hiring are changing and it is our responsibility as a city to educate citizens on how to take advantage, says Andy.

It’s important to provide some education on what to look for in a loyal employee.

The trend needs to move towards hiring quality people and training them for the roles you need filled—no matter how long that may take.

The payoff will be worth it in the end.

 

“We can chip away at the problem. If we all do a little bit of chipping, we make big strides,” said Andy.

 


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