CHLI Connect Series
By Janae Diaz
On April 23rd, the CHLI Interns had the opportunity to meet and speak with Isaac Reyes, the Vice President of Government Affairs at Target and a member of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) Corporate Board. Isaac discussed his experience with both the public and private sectors and shared his insights into practices that make a leader worth following.
At the outset, Isaac related how his professional background contributes lessons learned to his everyday work and shaped his perspective on the importance of corporate responsibility. His family background developed his desire to work in support of causes he values. This desire is part of why he enjoys his current position with Target, a company that practices civic engagement by promoting voter education and participation.
Isaac went on to describe his time contributing to political campaigns as some of the best experiences of his career. Working in a campaign environment developed his ability to “put out fires” while still ensuring the progression of a whole project, which became a transferable skill that he continues to apply.
Consistently learning new skills and seeking to grow as a professional was a consistent theme of Isaac’s professional history, and he encouraged us to do the same.
On the topic of leadership, Isaac emphasized the importance of identifying good team members and relying on their strengths. Empowering and highlighting the work of others to lift them up is what makes someone a good leader.
Isaac’s perspective resonated with me. Through my internship experiences with the office of Congressman Tony Gonzales (TX-23) and the Global Public Affairs office of UPS, I was fortunate to be a part of two different team environments. In both experiences, great leaders stood out by trusting their team and promoting their successes.
Isaac’s closing words of advice were an encouragement to each of us: use your network. He explained that it is only by utilizing the networks available that our generation of Hispanic/Latino young professionals will rise through the ranks and contribute to a future with more diverse board rooms and halls of Congress.
As I look forward to a career as a foreign affairs professional, I know that my network will play a significant role in shaping my career. And I believe that Isaac’s advice for good leadership applies well even when I am not in a traditional leadership role. Building a world with more diversity in the voices contributing to policy and commercial conversations requires relying on my network to help me find opportunities while also helping those in my network advance by promoting their successes.