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Moving Forward, Welcoming & Connecting: A Leader’s Journey

Lighter skinned woman wearing black and smiling with blog title moving forward on the right.

‘¡Bienvenidos! ¡Pase, Adelante!’ – Welcome, come on in! Feeling connected and belonging allows us to feel comfortable and bring our authentic selves.

“We must use our lives to make the world a better place to live, not just to acquire things.

That is what we are put on the earth for.” – Dolores Huerta   

ADP is proud to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM) by recognizing the cultures and the histories Hispanic Americans contributed through generations in this country.  

This year’s theme is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation, which means making positive impacts together. We connected with Isabel Espina, Vice President of Product Development, WorkMarket. She’s a dog-lover, a traveler, and a leader who always focuses on paying it forward.  

Here’s her lens on giving back to the community.  

Moving Forward, Welcoming & Connecting: A Leader’s Journey  

By Isabel Espina, VP of Product Development

Isabel and her family in Abu Dhabi
Adelante, in Spanish, means to move forward. It is also commonly used to welcome someone into your place. ‘¡Bienvenidos! ¡Pase, Adelante!’ – Welcome, come on in! Latinos value family as a source of strength and protection. Welcoming others and making them feel at home is part of our DNA. The sense of family and belonging is intense and is not limited to the immediate family but the extended grandparents, cousins, friends, and friends of friends. 

These families very often extend to our work families. Feeling connected and belonging allows us to feel comfortable and bring our authentic selves to the experience. ‘Estás en familia’– you are part of the family. You are safe, and we have your back. These values were core to my experience growing up. 

I was born in Cuba during the height of the Castro Revolution. My parents were the first from their respective families to leave, seeking freedom of expression and opportunity. They left their homeland and family for a better life in the United States. They wanted their daughter to grow up with freedom and opportunities.

We arrived in Spain in December, a time of year meant to be joyous and surrounded by family. Instead, we were alone in a foreign country. Fortunately, we had kind neighbors who welcomed us into their homes, helped us with warm clothes, and invited us to ring in the New Year. They even showed up on January 6 (Feast of the Epiphany) with a small gift that ‘Los Reyes’ had left in their home for ‘Isa.’ This kind gesture from our Spaniard neighbors meant the world to my parents. We were not alone. We had support and felt a sense of belonging. The sense of inclusion gave us tremendous comfort.  

This connection quickly grew into a community that gave us insight into navigating employment in Spain. Although we were not Spaniards, we connected to our neighbors through language, ancestry, and family values. With the help of the newly established community, we thrived in Spain and prepared ourselves for the next leg of the journey to the US.  

The values ingrained in the Spanish culture of family, support, and solidarity translate directly to how we lead organizations. 

ADP’s Research Institute has studied the data and developed a measure of Inclusion Measuring the ‘I’ in D-E-I. They define connection as one’s feeling of being seen, feeling heard, and feeling valued for their uniqueness. The study found that strongly connected people are 75x more likely to be fully engaged at work.  

Isabel and her family traveling to Alhambra
It’s been 25 years since I first came to ADP. Key to the culture here is the sense of inclusion, which is why I stay. I joined to create innovative products, and I did. Every time I hear there are millions of users now with the ADP Mobile Solutions app, I think of the days when I brought it to life with my previous team. Although the app has evolved beyond what we did, I find it rewarding to hear how much people love it today.  


The more comfortable one feels with the team, the better the ideas flow. The creativity and excitement then lead to an amazing product. We must attract a workforce representative of our clients and the communities where we live and work. These communities allow us to understand and provide insights into building better products. 

One way to gain a sense of community is to join and attend events sponsored by a Business Resource Group (BRG). I am an active member of Adelante, a Hispanic community that allows us to connect based on shared values. These may be direct connections because you are Latin American/Spanish or have shared interests in the music, the food, and the culture. What matters is we can come together and share in a community. I can’t think of a better way to grow one’s professional network and learn.

Isabel Espina

In the course of my time with Adelante, they invited me to do a panel to support STEM women and mentor young students. I also recently attended the Grace Hopper Celebration, where I met wonderful women technologists from diverse backgrounds working together to support each other. It was an extremely rewarding experience! I’m reminded of that sense of inclusion I felt when my family first came to the US. I’m inspired to give back to my support network.

As a technology leader, I always think about attracting great talent in this highly competitive environment. Digital transformation and advanced technologies continue to shape current and future jobs across industries. I encourage my team to grow together, meet other associates across different communities, and always support one another.

Giving back to our communities is good for not only our business but for all of us. I invite you to explore ADP and all we offer, including our BRGs. Be a role model, grow professionally, and pay it ‘Adelante.’  

We look forward to continuing sharing stories from Latino and Spanish technologists.  

Interested in Product Development?

Learn more about what it’s like working for ADP here and our current openings

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