In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Campaign US is spotlighting Hispanic executives from across the industry. This interview with Jaime Suarez, CEO and co-founder of MACH9, has been lightly edited.
What is it like to be a Latino/Hispanic in the advertising industry?
I think it’s both a privilege and a responsibility. Being Mexican I always put the name of my country at the highest regard, but also responsibility because unfortunately there are not a lot of Latinos in key executive positions. So, subconsciously I always push myself to demonstrate how capable we Latinos are.
How has it changed since you first started?
I observe a very diverse and inclusive environment, which compared to a couple decades ago is very pronounced and visible. This is great news. I still believe there is a lot more room for improvement in bringing more Latinos to executive leadership positions. When you come from a very challenging environment like Mexico, in terms of limited resources and exposure, you are forced to be creative in order to maximize every single opportunity. You need these types of profiles in any management team as we are trained from birth to problem solve.
How would you like to see brands honor Hispanic Heritage Month this year?
I think it's important to honor any heritage, but it needs to be genuine and real. Words don’t make the cut. Deeds speak millions, thus pushing the agenda of diversity in top management positions is an example to measure success.
What is something you love about your culture?
I love the food. On a more serious note, the candidness and openness of Mexican culture is something I am very proud of and translate into my day-to-day life. In addition, the appetite to demonstrate how capable Mexicans are is something very honorable, which speaks about our work ethic.
Where has the advertising industry made progress with diversity and inclusion? What still needs to be done?
Many ad agencies have done admirable efforts to diversify through means of hiring efforts and effective organization planning. They need to focus on recruiting talent from more Hispanic countries and tap great minds that originate in these communities.
How would you like to see your culture represented in the industry and by brands?
The diversity among Hispanics and Latinos is not very well understood by many organizations. I would hope to see more brands prioritize acknowledging the many backgrounds that make up the greater whole and see campaigns built around these positive and inclusive sentiments.