Cristina Hernandez, a graduate of Harvard Law School, shares her journey since graduating. She went to law school for three years and graduated in 1995 then went into private practice. After getting married and having two kids, she became a law firm partner in Wisconsin. Cristina decided to move to California and started working with Renee Meyers in 2012. She still practiced law, but she began working as a consultant on diversity, equity inclusion, and eventually became her VP handling all of her clients. Six years later, they were working with Netflix, where they started the Diversity, Equity Inclusion practice at Netflix. They worked at Netflix for four and a half years, and later became the chief diversity officer at Synopsis, a semiconductor company with 18,000 engineers and employees all around the world.
Christina’s journey has been marked by the rapid pace of change in her life and the world in which she works. She has experienced both personal and professional growth, and is now looking forward to continuing her journey in the legal profession.
Cristina explains what DEI means outside the U.S. and talks about the challenges of addressing diversity in the US, particularly in terms of gender, LGBTQ, and disability rights. She highlights that while efforts may work towards more women, African Americans, black, and Hispanic individuals, there are also other forms of diversity that exist globally. Gender oppression is a global issue, manifesting differently in different countries.
Cristina highlights the importance of being curious, thinking critically, and being open to experiencing differences in various cultures. She shares an example from her time working with Netflix colleagues in Japan, where she had to listen hard and be humble about understanding gender differences playout in various workplaces. She talks about the global implications of Black Lives Matter and explains that colorism is a real issue worldwide, manifesting in different ways and affecting people of color, and how it is crucial to learn from each other’s experiences.
She also touches on the need to understand the complexity of different perspectives and work together with these differences. She mentions that caste oppression is another complex issue, with socio-economic differences playing out in almost every country differently. Disability rights are another area where companies like Microsoft have been pushing for improvements, but accessibility varies greatly around the world. Cristina emphasizes the importance of understanding and respecting diverse perspectives in order to work towards a more inclusive and equitable society.
How to Integrate DEI in the Workplace
Cristina offers background information on the DEI space and goes on to explore the adoption of DEI in the workplace. She explains that employee resource groups and bias training are important for creating fair workplaces, but they are not the only factors to consider. Companies need to invest in their systems and practices, as these are the sticky things that last for a long time. Companies often get involved in these efforts for defensive, curious, or customer-based reasons. Systems that impact people include hiring, development, promotion, and mentoring. She mentions Joan Williams, a professor at the University of California in San Francisco, who has written an amazing book about bias interrupters and various practices around hiring. Cristina emphasizes the importance of writing down evaluations to mitigate recency bias and ensure accurate recall. Onboarding and promotion processes should focus on understanding generational differences and taking down barriers to welcoming employees into teams. Development and promotion systems should be structured around development and selecting high potentials, and ensuring everyone gets access to mentorship. Cristina explains that sponsorship is vital for progression and can be either explicit or implicit. It involves leveraging personal capital to ensure success, but it cannot sponsor someone or move their career along.
In terms of mentorship, Cristina identifies the difference between mentorship and sponsorship, and why one size does not fit all. She talks about the various different ways of making this work.
Singing as an Opportunity to Transcend Division
Cristina shares her lifelong passion for singing, which began with her father who was a choral conductor. She sang throughout her schooling and college. After moving to Los Angeles, she joined her husband’s choir, which brings her joy and a sense of fulfillment. She now commutes to Silicon Valley three days a week, and she finds herself enjoying being with other people. Cristina also shares her experience of transcendence in choirs, where she feels a sense of unity and hope. Choirs are generally made up of people from different backgrounds, and the only thing used is their voice. This moment of transcendence is a testament to the power of human beings to come together and create something beautiful. She believes that this opportunity to transcend through art is sorely lacking in today’s divided society. She takes this inspiration into her work, as it gives her hope and inspiration to be with people from different backgrounds making beautiful things.
Cristina’s passion for singing has been a significant part of her life. She believes that the opportunity to connect with others through music is a valuable skill that can help bridge the gap between individuals and create a more inclusive and meaningful world.
Influential Courses and Professors at Harvard
Cristina mentions Bernard Bailyn’s class on Constitutional History and how it offered transformative debate and discourse in a different kind of way through the lens of history; she also loved Greg Nagy’s The Ancient Greek Hero, and professor Julian Bond.
07:17 What DEI means outside of the U.S.
09:32 The definition of colorism
13:06 Caste division and disability inclusion
15:53 Business drivers that drive companies to hire a chief diversity officer
24:48 Systems and processes recommended to clients
26:09 How to mitigate recency bias
30:08 Formal mentoring programs and measuring success
36:61 The power of singing in a group
Will Bachman, Cristina Hernandez
Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to the 92 report conversations with members of the Harvard and Radcliffe class of 1992. I’m your host will Bachman. And I’m so excited to be here today with Christina Fernandez. Christina, welcome to the show.
Cristina Hernandez 00:16
Thanks. Well, I’m so glad to be here. Good morning to you.
Will Bachman 00:20
Good morning. So tell me about your journey since graduating from Harvard.
Cristina Hernandez 00:27
You know, it’s funny when you told me this was your first question. Um, I thought, Oh, I could speak the whole hour on this. But I thought I’d just kind of give it a high level overview of, you know, my journey, which has been interesting, I think, you know, I graduated and went to law school at Harvard Law School. So I didn’t venture far from the yard, I went up to the law school for three years and graduated in 95. And, you know, went the private practice route for a long time. And, you know, got married, had two kids, you know, did the very typical corporate kind of practice. Um, my ex husband, that is part of the story. I was class of 90. And he’s a professor in Wisconsin. So I’m from Boston to Wisconsin, in the early 2000s, and became a law firm partner there and did the whole thing. And then it grounded 2010 2009 and 2010, I got divorced. And my now has been Jeffrey Bernstein, whose class of 89 at a at a choir reunion. For anyone who knew me in college, I sang in the Collegium. And we had a big 10 year or sorry, that 10 year, we had a big retirement party for Jim Marvin, in 2010. And Jeff, and I reconnected there and decided to start dating and then eventually decided to get married. And this led to a series of big life changes. I decided to move to California, which is where Jeff is, is living. And so that’s where I live now in Southern California. Never thought I’d do that. Because my law firm didn’t have a California office, I resigned my law firm partnership with poached generally don’t do. And found myself moving to California and not applying to big law firm jobs. And I thought this was curious, like, okay, so what is holding me back from continuing on the track that I was going on before. So I called a woman named Renee Meyers, who was Law School Class of 85. I actually met Renee, my first year of practicing law, first day of practicing law in 1995. And she was running a group that time called the Boston law firm group, which was working on diversity in the legal profession. And my third year paper in law school was on affirmative action and diversity in the legal profession. I was very interested in access to the legal profession. So I started working with Renee, as a lawyer, I hired her a few times to work with my law firms. And so I found myself in this moment in 2000, plus trying to figure out my next move. So I called my friend Renee and I said, Brene, I just want your advice, because her name is everybody. And she said, you know, you’ve probably continue practicing law to pay the bills. But why don’t you come work with me? And I said, Okay, so in 2012, I jumped ship, I still did practice law to pay the bills. So if you look at my LinkedIn bio, you’ll see I worked with a couple of small firms. But starting in 2012, I started working as a consultant on what’s now known as diversity, equity inclusion, and work with Brene basically apprenticed with her for six months, and then started doing consulting and advising and keynoting with Rene and her in her practice, and eventually became her VP handling all of her clients. And then as a result, you know, six years later, we were working with Netflix, and Netflix wanted to start their di practice and said, Why don’t you come to Netflix? So I went to Netflix with Rene in 2018. And we started the EDI practice at Netflix. At that point, Netflix was only about 4500 employees. I don’t know folks know Netflix is not a huge company, people wise they only crossed 10,000 Like a couple of years ago. So we established the the DI practice that Netflix, which is which is incredibly fulfilling a tremendous honor to work at that company. I did that for four and a half years. And earlier this year, I, you know, last year started getting calls to be a chief diversity officer. And I really had to think about, like, do I really want to do this, really like my job, really love my mentor love working with her, and decided it was time. So I left Netflix in February of this year, and became the chief diversity officer at a company called synopsis, which is a semiconductor company that actually is about 18,000 engineers, we don’t do manufacturing, we do kind of up think about a semiconductor, we figure out how to get data on to the chips, we figured out how to architect the chips, for maximum impact, and we secure the chips. So we have a highly educated workforce, you know, 18,000, engineers, most of whom have masters and PhDs. And the majority of our folks are not in the US. So I feel really privileged to be able to work with colleagues all over the world. So it’s quite a change from a girl who grew up in Colorado, who had never traveled really internationally until I went to college and went to Mexico, really never traveled outside of North America until I went to Netflix. So it’s been quite a journey for me, especially these past 10 years, just the the rapid pace of change in my life and the rapid change in our world in the space I happen to be working in. So it’s been quite a journey.
Will Bachman 06:38
Well, that’s a lot of material for us to explore.
Cristina Hernandez 06:41
Yeah, sorry, there’s a lot.
Will Bachman 06:45
One, I’d love to start with, what does D I mean, outside the US, I mean, in this for listeners in the US, we have a sense of what you know, di efforts might work towards a, you know, more women more, you know, African Americans or black or Hispanic, potentially, but and then some cases you might get into, you know, other forms of diversity. But outside the US tell us a little bit what that might mean.
Cristina Hernandez 07:17
It’s a great question. So. So, caveat for folks around the world, you probably have experienced this, you know, there’s a lot of US companies that have expanded globally, like, you know, Google, obviously, you know, Mehta who have, you know, have large di practices, and typically historically, those kind of things extension of the US globally. And to your point, like there’s there’s we have different some issues, they’re really pretty different in the US historically, I mean, obviously, we have, unfortunately, gender oppression is global. So we do look at gender oppression globally, it does manifest differently in different countries. The the situation about folks in the US that are black, indigenous and other people of color is very different than other parts of the world. The same with LGBTQ folks around the world, unfortunately, that oppression is also global. But the way I think about it is, yes, there’s absolutely differences between amongst countries. And it’s incredibly important for us to recognize that like, yes, gender oppression is global. But it’s really important for us, instead of presuming what that means to be curious, and to really think and ask questions, and to be open to having things be different than you expect. And to experience it differently. So I’ll use an example I did a lot of work at it with my colleagues in Japan, at Netflix, and worked for them for over a year on a leading inclusively project. And I found myself really having to listen hard and really be pretty humble about just learning how, for example, gender differences play out in various workplaces, in Japan. And for me not to apply kind of my 50,000 foot view of what I thought it was to what it is, and I still don’t have proximity enough, but it’s that humility about it. So there are these differences you have to be aware of. And at the same time, there’s translatability of experience. So I’ll use what happened in 2020. With George Floyd and breonna, and Black Lives Matter is, you know, that could have been interpreted and hat was interpreted as a very us event. And it was but it had global implications for reason. First of all, colorism is real around the world and it manifests in different ways around the world. And so people of people who are are darker candidly, can experience colorism wherever you sit,
Will Bachman 09:59
I’m sorry. Yeah. and give us a definition of colorism just for people. Yeah, great question.
Cristina Hernandez 10:04
You know, someone’s gonna be listening from our class and gonna say, I’m gonna come up with a better definition because we’re very smart people colorism is, is present in almost every society, not all. But it’s, the whiter you are, the more privilege you have, the more opportunity you have, the darker you are, there can be prejudice against you, you can see this in, in skin whitening products that exist in a lot of different cultures, you know, what you get, you get lighter skinned, you’re considered to be of a higher class, there’s, there’s a lot of that, and I’m making a lot of generalizations here. And it’s not uniform around the world. But it’s a way of connecting that it can matter. And it manifests in different ways it can be manifested as a way to kind of speak against indigenous folks. So that colorism is basically it, it is what sounds like it’s folks who are lighter skin getting more privileged in society versus folks with darker skin. So the lessons of Black Lives Matter. If you if you bring the why have it to people globally, you can connect it with local experience, but not impose it. And that was hard. That was really hard. And conversely, we can learn a lot in the United States from the experience of others and other countries. And so it’s not just us kind of saying look at what we’re doing here in the US, don’t you want to learn from us? Which can not feel great for folks in other countries. But it’s also conversely, we want to hear about your experience. So that’s a long way to answer actually a really complicated thing. Well, which is how do we talk about difference in a way that respects all the players involved that and lays the groundwork for the possibility of moving forward without, without buckets. I mean, ultimately, that’s what people want around the world is, please understand my lived experience, please understand the complexity of it, please understand that it’s different from yours. And how do we figure out how to work together with all of those differences being president and so I as a US person, I cannot impose my worldview. And I need to learn about theirs. And conversely, they need to be open to mine.
Will Bachman 12:24
So is there some degree for like other countries, they may have, you know, beyond the gender and LGBTQ, which might be, you know, less represented around the world, right. You know, in some countries, there might be like, some locally oppressed minority, that’s just not really a big thing in the US. But in that country, it’s like, I don’t know, like Turks and Armenians or something, right? Or, you know, India, like, untouchables or, for example, or is it kind of customized to the local country? Where there, you look at what sort of underrepresented groups they have?
Cristina Hernandez 13:06
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, caste oppression is an interesting run, right? Because you first of all, it’s really complicated. I certainly don’t know enough about caste oppression. And it’s not limited to India, there are other countries with caste. And so it’s really it’s really thinking about when we say caste, what do we mean? It’s being curious about how it manifests. It’s understanding that it’s going to be a little bit different. But caste is a good example. It doesn’t exist everywhere. It can be very location specific. socio economic differences play out in almost every country differently. I think that’s a differentiator that we have to be really paying close attention to. Disability. You know, it’s something that some companies talk a lot about, like Microsoft, they, they’ve been really pushing disability rights for quite a long time. And it’s something that varies greatly around the world. There’s disability hiring quotas in many countries. That’s not true. In the US, US, we have the ADEA. And so there’s a lot more accessibility, but not certainly nowhere near perfect. That’s very different around the world. So but you do get really country specific. So I’m going to Armenia for the first time in October, we have a large site in Armenia and your Yvonne. So I’m going to do some homework. And I’ve been asking a lot of questions because I know we do a lot of work with women in Armenia, and it’s not just like, I want to understand, you know, what are the barriers and drivers to women’s access to being in tech in Armenia? You know, are they similar? Are they different and I want to understand more about other groups in Armenia and their access to to workplaces. And every every day learn something new like I learned the other day there’s an I can’t remember exactly which country it is in Europe, I want to say, Italy, where you know, in order that you they have disability hiring quotas or hiring requirements. But in order for a workplace to be recognized for it, the person who is disabled has to go seek a certification from the government. And that sounds kind of benign, like go get this certification. But if you’re in a society that stigmatizes disability, and you have to go get a government certification, that you’re a disabled person, not quite sure the laws are doing what they’re supposed to do to get access to people with disabilities in the workplace. So there’s all sorts of complexity like that. And being a lawyer is super helpful in that regard, because trying to understand the complexity of systems is absolutely key to the work I do. And the law absolutely taught me that I’d
Will Bachman 15:53
love to hear you talk a bit about the kind of business drivers that are driving large companies to create an office like yours and hire a chief diversity officer. And I imagine there might be several strands. One may be for their image with consumers, right? So they might say, you know, consumers are gonna care that this company has a diverse, you know, workforce, diverse executive team. So even if it didn’t improve business performance at all, like we need to do it for our customers. Another reason might be like, a compliance, like, okay, you know, like, you mentioned a quota, you got to meet certain quotas and certain compliance requirements in certain countries. So we just need to do it because, you know, regulatory reasons. Another reason that could be independent of the others might be, we have like strong evidence that, you know, a more diverse workforce is actually going to come up with better ideas, be more innovative, have better intuition, to what, you know, customers will respond to, and so will actually perform better as a business. Even if there was no compliance reasons or customers didn’t care, we would do it because it just gets better results. There’s probably some other reasons I’m not thinking about, but talk to me about, and maybe some companies will check more boxes or wait other reasons more heavily than others. But I’d love to hear kind of behind the scenes, you’re probably need to actually, you know, justify your existence as a team, right. And companies are, you know, at the end, they’re doing this kind of, you know, cost benefit analysis for everything they do. So, talk to us about some of the cost benefit analysis and what’s driving companies to, you know, to drive these programs?
Cristina Hernandez 17:37
Sure. So, this is going to be a long answer, because the really good question, so I’m actually going to do a little call back into the history of the DEI profession. And I say that with some solemnity, because folks, I think, have really only become aware, kind of from a popular perspective about this work probably within the last five to 10 years. But as I mentioned earlier on, in our discussion, you know, I met my mentor in 1985, and the law firms in the US, and I’m not saying exclusively, but they certainly were grappling with what was called than just diversity and what they were noticing very early on. And this was studies in the late 1990s, that the number of women and particularly the number of women of color, who were associates dropped precipitously in the fifth year of their associate career, so much so that there are thinking 1999 study by the American Bar Association that showed that 100% of women of color that were part of the study had left their law firms. I was one of those, I had left my law firm in my first law firm by that period of time now mine was for a move, but it really begs the question, why are we bleeding out? Then I use that language, you know, somewhat advisedly. But why why are we Why is this happening? What is happening that this particular group is leaving so consistently, and it was curiosity, and you know, frankly, like, when you attract that many people, and it becomes public, you have to address it. And so the law firms have been addressing it for a long time, and they haven’t succeeded, because there’s structural problems that keep the keep everything from being kind of, there’s just structural problems with law firms, because they’re very flat structures. But at that point in time, they really started to look at, okay, what are the what are the barriers and drivers to people’s success in the workplace? Right. So that’s a law firm. Well, fast forward, over the last 30, almost 30 years that I’ve been either directly or indirectly involved in this is that you’ve seen law firms in particular have had chief diversity officers for a very long time. And the investment in those efforts really waxed and waned with the economy. So in the past profession, we’d always say, you know, the first people to go when when the economy goes down is your di team. And that’s, that’s true across corporate space. And I say the reason for that is going to your primary question is that a lot of companies get into this because they, some of the CEOs kind of sense there’s something up, they see trends, perhaps in their out in their outcomes that are like, well, I don’t understand why this group is having a higher attrition. And I want us to think about this more intently. A lot of CEOs really care about this, but they don’t quite know what necessarily happening and they want someone to dig deeper into it. For some companies, that’s reactionary, they’ve gotten sued, and their need to have someone come in and address what is been identified as a problem. Some companies are aware of the many, many, many studies that exist that show that diverse teams where diversity is actually allowed to, to speak difference, can make a more productive result. And what I mean by that is, it’s not just enough to bring people who are different together, it’s allowing people to express different opinions in a productive way, your your results will be slower, but your output will be better. Some people understand that, but they don’t necessarily know how to translate it into the workplace. So it really depends well, and it’s hard for me to like read into every company, you know, for me. You know, when I was at Netflix, I, they had a very strong interest. And I was just thrilled about this, they understood that they were they were reaching every household in the world with their content. And they understood that they were trying to reach a global audience. And in order to reach a global audience in a meaningful way, they had to think about how they need their, their content differently. And so they brought us in to think about their workplace and their content, which was exciting to have an executive team that felt like that, and they didn’t get it right all the time. So I don’t want to say it’s Nirvana, you can Google it, and see that we had problems for sure. And at my current company, I had a really candid conversation about my beliefs on this work. And my beliefs on this work are fairly strong, I would say is, I think that cuz companies, when they think about di, they usually think of bias training, and they think about ERGs. And
Will Bachman 22:41
there’s only one employee research employee
Cristina Hernandez 22:44
resource groups, thank you for thank you for grabbing me, thank you for grabbing me yet employee resource groups which exist globally. And bias training, meaning let’s be aware of our biases. And in my view, those two things are important, but not nearly what is needs to be done to create fair workplaces? You know, we have to think about work individually, like how do each one of our leaders understand their role? And are they making space for people’s voices to be heard? Are they creating trust enough so that people can push back? Are we able to interact interpersonally with each other in a way that allows for that same productive tension and respect. But when companies are deeply under invested, is in their systems and practices, which most going back to your original questions. Most companies don’t fully appreciate, how how incredibly important it is to look at their systems and practices, because those are the those are the sticky things that lasts for a long time. And then your culture. So you’re going back again, to your original question. I think most companies get in it for pretty good reasons. Sometimes it’s defensive, sometimes it’s curious. Sometimes it’s customer based. But the profession itself has evolved a lot. And so I don’t think that folks necessarily understand when you’re really doing this work. Oftentimes, you will not see me doing the work. I’m not out there like having workshops all the time, I’m behind the scenes in the weeds with executives trying to enact some pretty deep systemic change in order to kind of create more of a equitable workplace.
Will Bachman 24:34
Tell us about some of the systems and processes that you have changed or that you typically recommend to your clients that they change when you were more in a consulting type practice.
Cristina Hernandez 24:48
So, so this is where I always give the caveat work like I’m super nerdy about this stuff because I really love complicated systems.
Will Bachman 24:59
Learn Scoble nerds welcome on the show. Nerds welcome
Cristina Hernandez 25:02
nerds unite. I love complicated systems is probably why I love working in private corporate settings. Because I’m very I love figuring out complicated things, and figuring out how to change them in a positive way. So when I look at systems, I think about the systems that impact people. And most people when they think about that, from a diversity and inclusion perspective, we’ll think about hiring. And of course, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of complexity in a large companies hiring practices. And so I think a lot about Okay, so where are the places that you can interrupt bias? You know, Joan Williams is I can’t remember the year Joan graduated from Harvard Law School, but she is a professor at the University of California in San Francisco. She’s written amazing, an amazing book about bias interrupters. And it’s done studies in the corporate setting about bias interrupting and various of the people practices around hiring. And it’s those bias interrupters like Okay, are you? Did you actually write down your evaluation? Right when it happened to mitigate against recency bias, because the further you get away from something in time, you’re you’re kind of your brain is, is losing proximity and won’t necessarily recall the information as accurately you’ll go towards kind of more categories. So there’s different ways you could work there, onboarding, even onboarding onto a team, like how are you thinking about your team composition? How are you thinking about, about learning about your new employee and what they may need? That’s different generational differences, really focus is really forcing this, if you’re going to work effectively with folks of different generations, you really have to be intentional about their onboarding process. How do you how do you take down any barriers to people getting welcomed onto their teams? I think about development and promotion? How are we developing folks? How are the systems are structured around development? How do you pick how are you choosing your high potentials? Are everyone getting access to mentoring? And I mean, everyone like not, you know, I think when people think of a DI person, they’re thinking about focusing on women and people of color and bipoc, folks and LGBTQ folks, I’m talking about everybody, because when you have an inequitable system operating, it operates against the majority as well, that don’t kind of Hue exactly to the established norms. So these systems also operate against introverted men. They also operate against any parent or caregiver. So that’s the kind of stuff I’m thinking about, while even all the way off boarding, like when someone leaves a company, how are we thinking about their off boarding experience? How are we learning from them? So when I think about systems, I mainly think about the systems that impact people in the workplace. But then the, like the advent of artificial intelligence into that whole system is, you know, we’re in a moment right now and in the profession where we have to be just focused incredibly on the left the leveraging of AI in an ethical way in the workplace, so as to not inadvertently disadvantage anybody. So it’s just it’s a lot of stuff around that.
Will Bachman 28:27
You mentioned, making sure everyone’s getting mentorship. How do you put systems in place to ensure that because mentorship is very kind of flighty sort of thing, if you try to impose it from above, it seems like it almost never works. If you just say, Okay, we’re assigning you, you know, Christina is now your mentor. It just it’s always this artificial thing. That seems like it doesn’t work too. Well. It seems that works best when it’s organic and authentic and just more spontaneous. But so how do you like, you know, do you survey everyone’s is like, Do you have a mentor in the firm? And who is it and do surveillance? Like, are you mentoring someone? And who is it like, how do you actually make sure that mentorship is happening?
Cristina Hernandez 29:12
It’s such a great question. And I want to I want to clarify some things I didn’t mention. In other words, with this sponsorship, and sometimes we we conflate the two terms, and I don’t think you are well, but it just for everyone who’s listening, I’m your mentorship is that kind of pairing, and it’s oftentimes a more senior person with a more junior person, although there are reverse mentorships where a younger person will jump will will mentor someone of a older generation. Then there’s sponsorship, which is vital for progression and sponsorships difference. Sponsorship is someone basically saying either explicitly or implicitly. I’m gonna leverage some of my personal capital and to make sure that you’re successful, and I have that capital, which is different than mentorship. You may be mentored by someone who’s not in your group or not. in your, in your unnecessarily in your same area. And that can be very productive. But they can’t sponsor you, they can’t actually move your career along. And you’re quite right, like formal mentoring programs don’t work for everybody. So when I think about it, I don’t think one size fits all. Human beings are hate being put in boxes. So when I think about mentoring, it’s really how, you know, what are the different ways we can go after creating relationships that are mentioned relationships, and for some people, being able to have a formal appointed mentor works great. But what’s been really interesting development over the last several years or so many different technologies and platforms that allow for people to opt into a system where they can kind of get matched to somebody and they can, you know, they can kind of do it, like do self service mentoring, you can have mentoring through through business units. So I kind of think about, there isn’t a one size fits all. So it’s usually an approach that’s multifaceted. And with a lot of testing, like what’s working and what’s not, how do we measure success in it? So it’s, if you’re doing it, right, it’s a lot of different avenues. But it’s also kind of figuring out over time, is it working? And I think that’s where a lot of programs fall short is they’re not building to determine success. And that’s a that’s a big deal. A big question mark in the industry is that how do you know you’re all of these programs are being are successful? When oftentimes, it’s not causation, but correlation? So it’s a lot that’s there, but I think the answer is, well, you’ve got to have a different ways to get at the same. The same thing is people sometimes need someone who they can just go to, to ask the question that they don’t want to ask their boss, and to get candid, truthful responses that they can leverage so they can understand the unwritten rules of the workplace. And everyone should have access to that, because everyone needs to understand the unwritten rules. And so how many ways can get to people to access to others who can give them those unwritten rules? Or to the extent we can make the unwritten rules explicit, so that people don’t need that as much as they otherwise would?
Will Bachman 32:20
I do have more questions about the AI. But I want to ask you about some other aspects of your life. And I’d love it if you could talk to us a bit about the role that singing has had in your life. I, you’re the first guest who has gone back to Harvard for a reunion of the Harvard Colloquium. And tell us a bit about, you know, how that was important to you. And oh, my gosh, have you continued to sing? You know, tell us a little bit about that.
Cristina Hernandez 32:47
Okay, so at Harvard, for all of you, my class who didn’t see me very much is because I was over in Holden chapel and pain Hall all the time. So I saying all the time, I ran a tour for the colloquium de Mexico in 91. So I spent a lot of time in the music building, even though it wasn’t a music nature, singing and so my whole life, um, you might my dad was a choral conductor. My husband is a choral conductor. So that’s where it kind of probably people don’t like. But yeah, it’s been a huge part of my life.
Will Bachman 33:24
Did you have singing lessons growing up was your dad, your singing teacher.
Cristina Hernandez 33:28
I just sang everywhere, like I sang. My dad was not my conductor, actually studied piano, like my dad was really big into my playing piano. So I played piano for 10 years. And then decided that that wasn’t doing it for me anymore. Also, my hands are very small. So it was it was becoming problematic. But yeah, I sang all through all through school and then sang through college. My mom is still mad. I didn’t go to conservatory after college. My Jim Marvin, who was my conductor in college, wrote one of my law school recommendations. And it read like, she was such a wonderful singer. It’s like, that’s not going to do what I’m gonna get into law school. Um, luckily, I got in. But it was interesting. So I sang when I lived in Boston, and then I had my first kid and I didn’t sing for 14 years there. And I really lost a part of myself, you know, to be honest, like I just lost a part of myself. So my husband is a choral conductor. And he was also in the colloquium and and was an associate conductor of the Harvard Glee Club. And so he he conducts a choir out here in Los Angeles. And so when I moved out here, I joined his choir, which was hard. I know a lot about choral music, and he’s my husband, so I kind of got what’s in the choir sometimes and not in the choir sometimes, but we worked it out. It’s a fantastic Choir I we rehearse every Monday. we actually start tonight, our new season. And you know, honestly, it just brings me such joy. And in a way that it doesn’t, it didn’t in college, like I don’t have any ego bound up in it anymore. Like in college, I just wanted to be in the best choir and I wanted to be the best singer. And we’re a fantastic choir. And I frankly, have so much gratitude to be seen in a room of almost 100, folks, especially post COVID COVID was tough in our house, because you know, we have a family of music makers here, and we couldn’t go sing with other people or conduct that. So I just feel an enormous amount of gratitude to sing with other people, even more. So now. You know, I have this new job. And I actually live in Los Angeles, I didn’t even say this before I commute up to Silicon Valley, three days a week. And I’m told them, I am not commuting on Mondays, because that’s when my rehearsal is they know it. So I go on Tuesday mornings. But it’s, it’s really, it’s a really important part of my life. And interestingly, now, I still alive, which was just kind of fun. Because again, I was really like all tense and tight and all bound up, but got it when I was a younger person. Now I bet I just, it’s just really joyful, I find myself to be a much better singer than I was when I was a younger person. So it’s, it’s just something I enjoy so thoroughly. Just being with other people. No, and I have
Will Bachman 36:34
great, I’ve read abstracts of some studies, I’ve seen them referred to not I can’t express any expertise on this, but I’ve just you read about studies to talk about there is something very special that happens when people sing in a group. And there’s some speculation by anthropologists about you know, maybe that’s one way we formed tribes or something, something happens where you feel much more bonded to other people, you know, maybe your, your, you know, kind of mental waves kind of get aligned and so forth. There’s something very special about that. I think it’s also applies to dancing in a group. Yes. And there’s some, you know, research maybe around like, you know, tribes like they use this as a form of, you know, tell me, do you experience that I’m not a singer, really, so I can’t expand. Tell us a little bit about if you have that experience, if you feel like more at peace for the day or so after you have your quarrel, practice.
Cristina Hernandez 37:31
Oh, my gosh, totally. You know, there’s these moments of transcendence. It’s, that’s the only word I can think of where you’re in a group of people, and you do something together. And it’s just this moment, like you feel it in your heart. And for those of you have sung in choirs, most of us have had that experience. And I’ve talked to people about it in our choir, and it’s, it’s, it’s uniform, like people are there because they get that feeling. And, you know, it’s interesting to me that there is a direct line to what I do for work, because choirs are generally people from all sorts of different backgrounds, if they’re doing it right, and they all you’re using is your voice. It’s the most personal part of you, like there’s nothing between you and anybody else. It’s like a manifesting of your own breath in your air in your sound right? And you’re going with other people, and you’re deciding together to do something to that’s beautiful. And you know, what an amazing what an amazing thing that is that human beings can collectively come together who are so different and make something together. That’s so beautiful. And to me, it’s really it’s a it’s a really hopeful moment. So I I’ve read those studies, I’m not an expert on them. But it’s absolutely my experience. And I think it’s something we don’t have a lot of right now, I think we’re in such a divided society. And we are so segregated from each other, that the opportunity to come together with other human beings to realize that you can kind of transcend something through art is is something that is sorely lacking. And I do take it into my work because I get hope and inspiration from being with so many people who are so different from each other making this beautiful thing. And if we can manage that, and this is why you know, I’m an I’m a true optimist. I believe we can do it in other spaces. And if I didn’t have that optimism, I wouldn’t do the work I do. So I do think that’s totally there. And I think it exists for people on sports teams. I think it exists for people who do anything with other people who are different from them in a creative way. It just, it brings you together. And if we can, if we could take that into other spaces, I think it could be really powerful. I’ve always thought I’m trying to do an activity around singing and inclusion. Someday I’ll do something. It’ll be fun.
Will Bachman 39:51
Other than the Coliseum and singing Were there any other weather courses or professors at Harvard that continue to resonate with you?
Cristina Hernandez 40:02
So yeah, I went to law school because I took a class with with Bernard Bailyn. I was a history major. And he had a class on constitutional history in the law school. And I think it was my sophomore year. And I took that class and I walked over to the law school. And I remember so vividly being in the classroom there. And being just so actively engaged in a discussion where I could get called on any time in the Socratic method kind of thing. And I thought, this is all they say. And I worked so hard in that class and was enormously proud of my B plus. But it was just, to me, I’m really, really transformative moment of just debate and discourse in a different kind of way through the lens of history, which was really exciting for me. Um, I actually loved Greg Knauss heroes. I loved it with everybody else in our classic ticket at some point. I just thought, the way he approached education and learning and connected with popular culture and everything else, it’s not that I didn’t learn things, and you know, it was a gut, whatever. But, you know, I learned a lot in that class. And I appreciated that. It felt easy because he was he made it so tangible. And that’s a real gift. And so in retrospect, is looking back on it, like what a gift that he had for teaching, in my view, that he really was able to convey, convey a topic that could be really dry, dull and boring in a way that made it feel easy. You know, those things, those two classes really stick out for me, you know, i i Yeah, I just had so many great Oh, Julian Bond, I took a class freshman year from Julian Bond. And as a as a fully formed adult, I like I was in a class with Julian Bond and didn’t kind of really understand as a freshman who Julian Bond was, um, and in retrospect, you know, I still have some of my textbooks from my class, I look back at that and think, wow, here’s one of the great, you know, the great, great thinkers of the civil rights movement, teaching me what’s very cool. So, um, yeah, I, I actually completely loved my classes, generally at Harvard. But those three really stick out of memory.
Will Bachman 42:32
Christina, for listeners that would like to follow up with you or find out what you have going on? Would you like to share any links?
Cristina Hernandez 42:41
Sure. So I’m on LinkedIn. So we’ll make sure to put that in there. You know, I retreated from social media in the, in the 2020 election, because I just, I really couldn’t stand fighting with my relatives. It just made me angry with them. And I didn’t want to be angry anymore. So LinkedIn is probably the best thing to do, although I am on Instagram. And my email is good. It’s Christina, dot Hernandez dot 95. At Gmail 95, because 92 was taken. And so I had to do 95 For my law school, because then then YouTube was taken.
Will Bachman 43:19
Christina, thank you so much for joining. This was a wonderful discussion. And I love that you’re still singing.
Cristina Hernandez 43:27
And thanks for having I still can’t get overwhelmed that you’re doing this with so many folks in our class. So it’s been a joy to read everything that you’ve been writing and just to kind of listen to our other classmates. So thank you so much for doing this.
Will Bachman 43:39
Thank you, Christina. And listeners, if you go to 92 report.com You can find those transcripts that Christina was referring to. If you don’t want to listen to every episode, you can read the show notes. You can also sign up for an email and I’ll let you know about each episode as it comes out. Thanks for listening