For Hispanic Heritage Month, members of our Hispanics or Latinxs at AlixPartners employee resource group (HOLA) explain the unique family atmosphere of the Latin American Practice Development team.
AlixPartners’ Latin American Practice Development team (LAPD) initiative was established in the early 2010s in response to increased restructuring interest and several significant projects in Brazil.
The team initially consisted of a handful of consultants discussing ways to build brand awareness in the region. But growth and interest in the LAPD took off with the opening of AlixPartners’ Buenos Aires office and the creation of HOLA. It is now one of the largest business development (BD) programs at the firm, supporting numerous high-impact engagements including recent wins with Aeroméxico and Ford.
But beyond generating business opportunities, the LAPD has created a community that members say is unique compared with other BD programs they’ve been a part of.
“It’s a meeting you don’t want to miss,” noted David Head, a Managing Director and the former Buenos Aires local market leader. “Everyone who supports the LAPD and HOLA does it voluntarily. They’re not doing it for any other reason than to make this a better place to work.”
The team meets monthly to discuss top news from Latin America, provide updates on existing, potential, and upcoming engagements, and share professional development and speaking opportunities. Members also give presentations on topics like Mexican insolvency law and fraud risk in the wake of COVID-19, and the group manages a growing library of best practices and how-to guides.
"It has a family feel to it, and I've never been able to figure out if that is just because we all like each other so much, or if we've benefited from that aspect of Hispanic culture that is focused on teamwork and family." – Brad Hunter on the Latin American Practice Development team
The agendas are packed, but members describe the meetings as lighthearted and fun. “There’s an undercurrent within the group about showing off our favorite Latin food and drinks,” Isabel Kunsman, a managing director based in Washington, DC, said. Most meetings devote some time to the latest fútbol results, particularly when Brazil and Argentina square off.
Fernando Silva, an SVP based in New York, describes the team as a microcosm of Latin American business culture.
“There’s this very clear understanding in Latin America that life is not all about business, even though they’re very serious about it,” he said. “I think there’s the same mentality in the LAPD where we talk about business seriously but make sure that we enjoy life at the same time.”
This familial feeling has also made the LAPD a fertile ground for professional development and mentoring.
According to Isabel, the fact that the group is organized around a geographic region facilitates a lot of cross-community collaboration. For engagement leaders like her, it means access to internal industry experts with an understanding of local cultures to staff on projects. For junior members in the group, it opens doors to different kinds of opportunities across service offerings and industries.
The LAPD also works seamlessly with HOLA, which is primarily focused on recruiting, retention, and professional development of AlixPartners’ Hispanic and Latinx employees, to support its members.
“We challenge members of HOLA and the LAPD to find ways within these organizations to meet their development goals,” Brad Hunter, a director based in Dallas and one of the founding members of the LAPD, said. “If we need to create something in LAPD to help them do that, we’re happy to do that as well.”
Ultimately, the multi-pronged success of the group is the result of the overlapping passions and experiences of its members.
“There’s this mutual understanding amongst everybody that Latin America is not an easy place to do business,” Fernando said. “But then there’s this warmth to the culture that makes it such a joy to work down there.”