Today we’d like to introduce you to H Puentes.
Thanks for sharing your story with us H. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in a small town outside of Houston, Texas and I’ve still got a little country in me. In high school, I interned for my local congressman and caught the political bug which took me to DC for college. After college, I had the incredible opportunity to study at The London School of Economics which I jumped on. After completing my master’s degree, I chose to stay in London and took a position in management consulting for private equity and venture capital firms.
After 4 years in London, I was recruited to work with some incredible entrepreneurs at an exciting startup in the Bay area. Eventually, my future wife’s career took priority as she had the opportunity to complete her Ph.D. in Oncology at one of the top research institutions in the world here in San Diego.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Both my parents were immigrants from humble backgrounds, so the road was never going to be smooth, but they worked hard and helped me where they could on my crazy journey. Having the opportunity to learn from people all over the world has enriched both my personal and professional life. I’d say one of the biggest struggles has always been a lack of capital.
Whether it was showing up to university with little more than a can opener and a towel, having to step away from school to work enough to qualify for in-state tuition or the high cost of living in London it seems to always find a way to show up. I think the way that I’ve been able to push through those opportunities is to focus on my goals and stay committed to do whatever it took to realize them. I have always found that as long as I was putting in the hard work it took the universe always found a way to conspire in my favor.
Please tell us about CONNECT.
The startup scene in the Bay area is dynamic and overflowing with talented people, but one observation that stuck with me was that there were not too many people that looked like me. After that experience, I have always sought out the opportunity to change that dynamic even if only incrementally. Currently, I am the Director of CONNECT ALL, the regions first diversity-focused accelerator that operates out of CONNECT DT @ DeskHub but will expand to a new facility located in Southeast San Diego in the fall.
Our mission at CONNECT ALL is to increase diversity among entrepreneurs, executives, and boards of directors. CONNECT ALL believes that startups which begin with diversity at their core will grow to become companies with a fundamentally different mindset and corporate culture. To fulfill its mission, CONNECT ALL focuses on three main objectives: education and awareness to underrepresented groups, outreach and recruitment of diverse early-stage entrepreneurs, and delivering programming and mentoring to those startups as they grow.
Without a doubt, the proudest moment of my career was when the City of San Diego awarded CONNECT ALL a $2.5M grant to expand the CONNECT ALL Accelerator at the Jacobs Center in Southeast San Diego. After standing up CONNECT ALL in early 2016, it was personally very satisfying to receive validation of that magnitude, for the mission, from our elected leaders.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over I would have probably studied Math and/or Computer Science at university. When I was younger I was top of my class in math and now that I have been in tech for a bit I realize that I enjoy learning about computers. It’s difficult to begin your career with a Political Science degree unless you stay in government.
Luckily for me, I went to an incredible school which has helped me tremendously, but if that wasn’t the case, I am not sure where I would be today. On the other hand, if you have a math or computer science degree from any university, the opportunities are abundant and often really cool work environments. With that being said, I am not one that tends to look back too much. I subscribe to the belief that everything is in its right place and time.
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