Latin Business Today is featuring individuals in the workplace that make a difference at all levels.
With an IT career spanning over 20 years, Noel Lacayo has a unique perspective on the technology field and has a deep understanding of the complexities around enterprise technology.
Name: Noel Lacayo
Title: Senior Solutions Engineer
Major City Where You Work: Atlanta, GA
City Where You Live: John’s Creek, GA
Please, share your personal and cultural background with our readers.
Born in Miami, FL to a Cuban mother and Nicaraguan father, my upbringing was mostly Cuban with just the right amount of Nicaraguan. I was raised in Miami Lakes, FL where I attended elementary school through high school. In high school is where I met my wife, Melissa, and we have been together ever since.
Please share with us a current typical day or week in your everyday personal life.
A typical day is getting up, helping my wife get the kids off to school, and then get prepared to start working, which varies from day to day. After work, a typical day consists of doing whatever needs to get done as far as my family is concerned. That can consist of shuttling kids around to sports, helping with dinner, or supervising our older kids as they complete their chores. If it’s a really good day, it will end with sitting on our porch with my lovely wife with a drink in my hand while listening to music.
Please share with us a current typical day or week in your everyday professional life.
This one isn’t so predictable. My job is a different job every day! Some days I am out seeing customers, taking them to lunch and learning all I can about their business to see how I can help them achieve their goals. Other days, I am speaking at events being a general evangelist for technology. Other days, I am home all day on calls and staying up to date, which is getting increasingly more difficult in this revolutionary time we are in. I have to be deeply knowledgeable in all aspects of our digital world.
Tell us why you do, what you do, for a living.
I get to use my 20+ years of experience in technology to revolutionize some of the largest customers in the world. I know what IT departments are going through. I have lived and breathed it. I know what kept and keeps me up at night. I know what worked for me and what didn’t. I am passionate about what I do which to me makes it easy to go to work every day. When you are passionate about something, you will do well at it. The fact that I can contribute and play a role in the digital transformation of some of the largest companies in the country keeps me doing what I do.
Tell us about the factors that shaped your career and business aspirations.
Oh so many! From cross country relocations to getting involved in businesses that I knew nothing about. I consider every decision, every project, every endeavor a learning experience that will shape you as a professional. I was never a coder. I learned how to code on my own and developed a platform that would later grow larger than I ever thought possible. It taught me things that brought me to where I am today even though that project had nothing to do with my full time job. I always take every challenge, every obstacle, every adventure, as a way to further myself both professionally and personally.
How did you end up in your line of work? Was it accidental or were you strategic about it?
Very strategic! I shifted jobs and responsibilities on purpose to get more exposure to different parts of the business. I got criticized when I would leave companies or change roles but in the end it’s the reason why I know what I know.
Share how you balance the work-life challenges…what have been the rewards.
This was always a huge challenge for me, mostly because I love what I do and I am someone that worries about doing a job correctly, 100% of the time. And for many years It was hard to balance my work/life challenges. Sometimes because I was fortunate that my wife stayed home and did such a great job at taking on so much with our kids. But as they started to grow, I realized that there is so much more to life than work.
The minute I had the opportunity to shift to a role that allowed me to spend much more time with my wife and kids, I jumped on it. It took us to move away from our extended family but it allowed me to be a part of their lives so much more. If I had to say something now, it would be make work decisions together. I always have and it has helped us achieve a great life that has brought our family much happiness. I have turned down opportunities to make more or to move to other countries. While professionally that might have not made sense, as a family man, the end result is a harmonious life where our planning and sacrifices have netted us great results and a great quality of life.
What advice would you have for other Latinos in the business sector trying to make it day after day?
Just to be you. I have had the unique perspective of being a Latino working for large companies outside of a predominately Latino city. I have worked extensively in parts of Texas, Georgia, Alabama where I was the only Latino in large groups. I never stopped being me. I was never ashamed of being Latino nor did I ever mask my ethnicity.
I also think it’s important to remain open and get to know as many cultures as you can. One of the benefits of being relocated several times is learning that every culture is beautiful in its own way and when you live in the same place forever you naturally start to get uncomfortable when you deal with anything out of your comfort zone.
I am blessed to have given my kids the chance to experience different cultures, different ethnicities, while still knowing who they are and where they came from. Part of growing in your career is the ability to handle some situations better than others and to be a leader no matter what your role is. Being open to different cultures is part of that. So in summary, Be yourself, be open, and be a leader, no matter what your role is.
Do you think you have ever truly “made it” in life?
I think “truly made it” is more of a personal journey than a professional journey. Most eventually figure out that a title, a car, a house, or a big bank account aren’t what measures if you have “made it”.
To me its more about the impact you have in this world, on others, on your kids, and on your family. That’s not to say nothing else matters but I treat everything, including my job, the same way. And I believe that alone has played a part in me getting to where I am today. I try to look at everything with a positive attitude and I try to be a pleasant person all the way around. People notice and it takes you to great places. While it’s important to have a great career and do well in that aspect of your life, you cant “truly make it” with that alone.
What is your favorite quote/saying? Give us your own personal quote to commemorate at LBT.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
“Time is the one thing you can’t get back, use it wisely. Learn something new, solve something that will make your life or someone’s life easier, expand your knowledge daily. Using your time to complain is accomplishing nothing.” – Noel Lacayo
Did your ethnicity create any obstacles for you? Any advantages? How so?
Very rarely, but at times in certain situations where I was the only Latino…it was harder to level set and start small talk with someone that would prefer someone that was not Latino. But, I always considered it my duty to change people like that and feel I have been successful at it overall.
What inspires you in your work life? What turns you off?
Progressing my career, supporting my family. Learning and mentoring others.
What turns me off? I am a pretty positive person so that’s not easy to do, but more than anything is people that are rude or unappreciative.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Keep doing what you are doing! Even when others have more free time or win in the short term by taking shortcuts, keep doing things right. Hard work wins in the end. Keep working hard for the right reasons and not just for a paycheck. The paycheck comes naturally and grows when you are passionate about your job.”
Anything else you would like to share.
Overall what the business world is starting to see less of is general manners and respect. As a Latino this was the root of our upbringing. The business world runs on relationships, you can’t have a successful career or a successful business without having good relationships with people that are rooting for you. Treat everyone with respect, regardless of their position and title.