This Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month at Airtable, we are very excited to share a bit about another one of our Latinx & Hispanic coworkers. Without further ado, here is an interview with Jose Martin de Vidales Biurren, our Senior IT Systems Engineer.
What is your name, role, and pronouns, and how long have you been at Airtable?
So, my name is Jose. My pronouns are he/him. My role at Airtable is Senior IT Systems Engineer and I've been at Airtable for six months now.
What is your favorite thing about working at Airtable?
That's a great question. I love working at Airtable because everyone is compassionate with others and super supportive. That's something that I love and I haven't seen at other companies. Everybody's there to help you, even if you make a mistake. People are supportive and try to get the best out of you—it is amazing.
I don't see the people I work with as coworkers, but as friends. I wake up every morning excited about talking with everybody on the team and working on a product that I really love and I use every day. Even when I'm not working, I use Airtable for tracking my personal projects.
I also love working at Airtable because our product is doing a lot of good things for others. Seeing that organizations are using Airtable to plan support for the Napa fires, for example, is extremely rewarding.
What’s an interesting fact about you?
I speak a language from the Basque region in Spain that is not known by many people—Basque. It’s only spoken in certain regions of the north of Spain and the South of France.
I was born and raised in Pamplona, a small town in the north of Spain. My dad's family roots are Castilian and my mom's, Basque. I feel honored to have a mix of different roots within Spain.
Do you identify as Latinx or Hispanic or both? And why?
I identify myself as Hispanic and Latinx. Some people refer as Hispanic to people of Spanish-speaking descent while Latinx is a person "of Latin American origin or descent."
For me, it is more about letting people know that I’m proud of my roots no matter what word I use.
What is it like being a Latinx/Hispanic person in tech?
I think it is challenging. Some companies that don’t have a strong background with a diverse workforce are more inclined to being biased in favor of non-Latinx/Hispanic employees.
I have seen it in my community, where we have to work harder to gain people’s respect. I think there is this invisible barrier where if you aren’t part of a group that is already established, you need to prove yourself before you can get included because of some prejudices. That’s totally unfair. Being Latinx/Hispanic provides so much value to any team. Most of us have struggled through learning a different culture, moving to a different country, and being separated from our families. Being rejected or discriminated against makes us stronger, more passionate, and more open-minded.
When I first moved to the U.S. eight years ago, the first few months of applying to jobs and doing interviews were exhausting. I thought that I was getting rejected due to being a foreigner or due to my accent. But after having to give up so many things just to pursue my dream, I wasn’t going to give up that easily. I think those challenges that some Latinx and Hispanic face every day are what make us stronger.
Airtable has a strong diversity and inclusion culture, but not all tech companies out there do. Some employees have to work twice as hard so that they can be respected by others, or to get even the same paycheck as other peers doing the same work. During the past few years, there has been a lot of work related to equal pay and compensation discrimination, but there is still more work to do.
What brought you to the U.S.?
I came here to finish my master's and I was going to be here for only nine months. As part of the requirements of my master's, I had to complete a three-month unpaid internship. After so much applying, a company offered me the internship. Funnily enough, while I was starting to pack my things and go back to Spain, the company that offered me the internship offered me a full-time paid position along with a working visa for a few more months. Those months became a few more years, and here I am.
What does "Unity in diversity" mean to you?
Even if we came from different parts of the world, we were sharing the same struggles, dreams, and motivations.
I will share a little story about my first few weeks in the U.S. I barely spoke English and I was terrified to speak with other fellow international students. I didn’t have any friends, so I decided to invite my fellow international classmates to a picnic where each person had to bring some homemade food from their countries. The first few minutes were a little bit tense, but once the first person started talking about their own challenges of studying abroad, finding a way to get a visa, or how difficult it was for them to communicate with others due to language barriers, we found that even if we came from different parts of the world, we were sharing the same struggles, dreams, and motivations.
That was really eye-opening for me. I felt really vulnerable the first few weeks, but putting my prejudices aside, I ended with a group of friends from all over the world, from different ethnicities and cultures, that had more in common with me than some people back home.
What’s your favorite Latinx or Hispanic food?
It's called "tortilla de patata” (Spanish omelette). It's an omelette made with eggs and potatoes, optionally including onion—which I always add. Some people like to add ham (another favorite), cheese, and/or roasted peppers.
Every time that I fly to Spain to visit my family, they welcome me with a tortilla de patata with some jamon Ibérico (Iberian ham). Once I have the first bite, all the exhaustion from the trip goes away.