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CNH’s George Alvarez talks diversity and inclusion, mentorship during Hispanic Heritage Month

Posted: October 2, 2023

George Alvarez’s professional life is all about connection.

The 35-year-old father of two is a security architect for the onboard vehicle product at CNH Industrial, considering the connected vehicle through a cybersecurity framework—but beyond that, he’s interested in the networks that link professionals together in the modern workplace.

Alvarez is highly involved with the Chicago section for SAE International, managing its social media presence, and he’s the Chicago chapter secretary of Raices Cyber, an organization that aims to create a pipeline for Latinx and Hispanic students to education and career opportunities in cybersecurity. He’s also taken an active role in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at CNH, leading the charge to establish a multicultural employee resource group (ERG) and serving as its president.

“I think it’s very important for myself at this point in my career to be able to be present and approachable for people at the high school level and at the college level—and even with my peers or interns at work,” Alvarez said. “There were always opportunities and people who gave me encouragement or advocated for me, and those little pushes and nudges are what put me in the spot where I am today, so I try to do that for others just to make sure that we keep that opportunity going.”

Alvarez will tell you that his path has been a winding one. After earning his degree in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois Chicago in 2010, he began his career at Navistar. There, he became interested in cybersecurity and pursued a master’s degree in information security at Lewis University. At the time, vehicle security was only a burgeoning technology, and Alvarez was an early advocate forging the path in commercial vehicles.

During the week of COMVEC, Alvarez shared his experience as part of a mentorship event, talking to high school students about pursuing a career in automotive engineering.

“One of the things that I said right off the bat is along the way, I had my wins, and I had my losses. I had the stagnation, and I had the frustration. But when I zoom out over time, it’s an ascent,” he said. “And along the way, some of the mentors I had were strong advocates for SAE, especially in the first few years when I was working at Navistar, and they encouraged me to go to conferences like COMVEC or to take a deeper look into standards to better understand them and lead the industry through expertise.”

As his connections grew, Alvarez observed the power of having perspectives from multiple backgrounds and the role his own upbringing as the child of Mexican parents played in his growth as a professional. He’s also seen the need to consider DEI as technology progresses, including things like a need to train AI to recognize darker skin tones or understanding different international infrastructure, among other concerns.

With this in mind, Alvarez became more involved with the diversity and inclusion efforts at CNH and raised his hand to help form and lead its first multicultural ERG. Through the ERG, the group has recognized cultural celebrations to create a more inclusive workplace and provide an opportunity for people to connect and share their ideas and experience.

“One of the things we’ve found is that we all have these nice cultural stories, and we all resonate with each other,” Alvarez said. “This is true not only within the ERG, but with cybersecurity stakeholders as well. It’s helped me build my skills with empathy and understanding that as long as we know how to talk, then we can figure out our problems and how to move forward.”

Though it’s only just the beginning, Alvarez can already see the positive momentum building. And no matter what’s next, you can bet he’ll be leading the charge toward progress, one connection at a time.