Growing CareersAs senior global diversity and inclusion manager at NielsenIQ, Angel Diaz ’16 creates opportunities for diverse talent to thrive in corporate America.
By: Meghan Kita Thursday, October 21, 2021 08:17 AM
Angel Diaz ’16. Photos by Joshua Fernandez
In 2013, Angel Diaz ’16 shared her story at a rally in Bethlehem. She was born in Venezuela, and her parents brought her to the United States when she was 3. She attended high school in Easton and enrolled at Northampton Community College. She applied for and was accepted to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but at the time of the rally, she had no clear pathway to citizenship. That’s what the activists at the rally were hoping to change.
Among the attendees was Adrian Shanker ’09, executive director of Allentown’s Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Center. He approached her afterward and encouraged her to transfer to Muhlenberg when she finished her associate’s degree. She told him it wasn’t financially feasible.
“As an undocumented student, I didn’t have access to scholarships, FAFSA, state support—none of that,” Diaz says. “I had to pay for my education in cash.”
Still, he convinced her to apply and helped connect her with then-Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Chris Hooker-Haring and Director of Financial Aid Greg Mitton. The College offered her a generous amount of financial aid to complete her bachelor’s degree in business administration. It was the first in a series of interconnected events that ultimately led her to her current position as senior global diversity and inclusion manager at NielsenIQ, which provides data analytics for consumer packaged goods (CPG) clients.
“Every moment in my career has been a catapult to the next one,” she says.
For example, while at Muhlenberg, Diaz contacted Hispanic Heritage Foundation President and CEO José Antonio Tijerino (pictured, above) as she sought ways to help with the humanitarian crisis at the border. He invited her to attend that year’s Hispanic Heritage Awards in Washington, D.C., and Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Diversity Initiatives Robin Riley-Casey sponsored her trip. During that trip, Tijerino offered Diaz a full-time position as his executive assistant to start the following semester, in the spring of her senior year. The College’s Semester in Washington, D.C., program allowed her to finish classes while she fulfilled that role, and she was immediately promoted after graduation.
While she enjoyed the work at the nonprofit, she knew that, to grow, she needed to be outside her comfort zone, in a larger organization. When she was ready to move on, Tijerino, who was on Nielsen’s Hispanic Advisory Board, helped make the connections that led to her move to corporate America. Diaz started as a university recruiting specialist on the media-insights side of Nielsen in March 2017. Since then, she’s been promoted three times, even as the company split into Nielsen and NielsenIQ (in January) and NielsenIQ was sold (in March).
In her current role, which she started in June, Diaz has been juggling a few major projects. One is the launch of a 12-week data-analytics training program for college students called NielsenIQ University. The inaugural class of 120 students will be split into groups and tasked with solving real-world problems for real-world clients (Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal and Coca-Cola, to name a few) using NielsenIQ insights. The spring-semester program seeks to identify talent, including diverse talent, early on in college—sophomores and up can apply—and get students access to tools and insights that will make them the next diverse data analytic leaders in the CPG industry.
Diaz’s other major projects have her working closely with NielsenIQ’s nine Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). (She’s held leadership positions in the Hispanic Organization for Leaders in Action ERG since she started in 2017 and is now its regional leader.) She helped plan a new conference for 600 ERG leaders from around the world that took place in October. Programming included opportunities to brainstorm how the ERG groups could support the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, to further develop leadership skills and to speak with the company’s C-suite executives. She’s also working to build a program called the Diversity Leadership Network, inspired by a two-year rotational program for recent graduates she used to oversee.
“I’m trying to strike the hard balance of not only attracting and retaining top diverse talent but putting them on the fast track to help accelerate their careers,” she says. “Many of these individuals, like myself, perhaps lacked mentorship, access, common business acumen and understanding of how to navigate the corporate world. My goal is to create programs that will help them navigate the learning curve and accelerate their careers so that they have as fair of a chance as their peers.”
It’s been a busy year for Diaz—not only was she promoted this summer, but she became an American citizen about a month later. A challenge of the new role is that there’s so much work to do. She continues to seek out opportunities to develop professionally while helping mentor new, diverse talent looking to do the same. Her job requires passion and patience, she says, but she wouldn’t have it any other way: “This is a personal dream to get to do this every day. Coming from being undocumented and getting to hire people who are DACA recipients, to really live that mission of making not just the CPG industry diverse and equitable but making corporate America diverse and equitable, that’s incredibly rewarding.”