PGIM’s Ron Andrews Diversity Scholarship
PGIM is committed to creating a more diverse and equitable workplace where all talent can thrive.
It’s a troubling fact that Latinx employees make up just 6% of the asset management industry*. It’s a statistic that senior leaders across PGIM are actively working to shift by thinking about new strategies to tap into this goldmine of great talent.
In fact, reaching young Latinx talent is a core tenant of the Ron Andrews Diversity Scholarship, a new program that will award $10,000 to self-identifying diverse college sophomores and juniors in PGIM’s 2021 Summer Internship Program.
This month, as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I sat down with my friend and colleague Juan Suris, head of Quantitative Modeling and Strategies at PGIM Fixed Income, to learn about his career journey and his vision for the next generation of Latinx talent.
How did your career path lead to Prudential?
I was born in Pennsylvania but raised in a small town in Puerto Rico. After completing my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, like many other Puerto Ricans and my parents before me, I decided to move to mainland United States to pursue graduate school and career opportunities. While I was not familiar with Prudential, I had a cousin who worked here, and he suggested I apply.
I found my background in technology didn’t fit the mold for people in financial services in those days. While there weren’t very many people I worked with at the time from Puerto Rico, the biggest difference between me and my peers was my education. I felt the pressure to nudge my way in and found that I had to work harder to prove I could do my job.
You’ve worked at Prudential and PGIM for more than two decades now. What’s kept you around?
When people ask me about PGIM, the first thing I tell them is that it’s the perfect place to work if you’re looking for a career fueled by respect and intellectual integrity while maintaining a balance with your personal life. I’m continually impressed at how PGIM affords me the flexibility to be dedicated to my family—my wife and I have three children—while managing an intellectually stimulating and challenging role.
Why is diversity in hiring so important?
It’s my view that we are not doing enough to attract and retain diverse talent. This is not to minimize what we are doing, but we can always do more. Part of the challenge is that it requires a significant amount of time to do this well. To effectively reach the Latinx talent pool, we must go where people are educated and where they live, and that is often beyond our existing recruiting efforts. We need to build relationships with the career departments of universities with diverse populations.
In general, I think the trend toward pushing for greater diversity, at least at PGIM, is more and more focused on diversity of thought. I think that’s a good thing. When I joined the industry, candidates might have been diverse in gender or ethnicity, but they were from the same schools, with the same degrees. Now we hire people with liberal arts, engineering and legal degrees. This is so important if we want to broaden the outreach for who we welcome into the asset management industry.
How will PGIM’s new diversity scholarship make a difference?
What many people don’t realize is that, due to circumstance, being accepted into an internship program doesn’t always mean someone can take up the offer. Let me tell you a story: My wife grew up in a very modest household in Puerto Rico and had an opportunity to do an internship in mainland United States when she was still studying. She had to raise funds to get a month’s rent deposit and pay for a flight to New Mexico. Think about it, that might be a couple of thousand dollars, and for her at the time that was a fortune. But that internship made a huge difference to her career prospects, once you get that first opportunity it plants the seed for future opportunities.
We can put energy in doing outreach to institutions that educate the people we are targeting, but we need to open the opportunities so that more people can take advantage. The earlier we can influence the pipeline, the more candidates we will attract.
Will you be honoring Hispanic Heritage Month this year?
Hispanic Heritage Month is an important means of elevating Hispanic culture and history. The ultimate goal, however, should not be to highlight one specific culture over another, but rather to demonstrate that we all come from different backgrounds and have things to celebrate.
I try to treat every day as a way to share small facets of my Puerto Rican culture with people at work—whether that’s through a joke, or story, or bringing in sweets or cakes (which has the added benefit that people will show up to my meetings). It’s through small gestures that people learn more about me and where I’m from, how we’re different, and of course, how we’re similar. It would be great if society could do this naturally, every day, without having to put a specific I & D initiative behind it.
What advice do you have for Latinx talent looking to get a start in this industry?
One of the biggest elements of my success has been integrity. The culture at PGIM has been a good fit. It takes a lot of time and energy to build trust and a second to lose it—building trust is an essential ingredient. My advice to young talent is to focus on making sure that what you do is building that trust and an image of integrity.
PGIM is identifying diversity scholarship candidates through accepted summer internship offers. To apply, click here.
* McLagan Diversity Study 2020.