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Congrats to Alyssa Gutierrez, our 2019 Flavio Castillo Award winner!

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION  | 

Our ¡HOLA! employee network group (ENG) recently honored Alyssa Gutierrez with its fourth annual Flavio Castillo Excellence Award. The award was established in memory of Flavio, a partner in our financial services assurance practice in our Chicago office, who passed away unexpectedly in March 2016.

Flavio was instrumental in creating a vision for ¡HOLA!, and worked diligently to advance the ENG's mission. Known for his passion for achieving excellence, Flavio worked to empower Hispanic and Latino employees with the skills, relationships and resources they need to grow their careers at RSM.

Alyssa is one of those empowered employees. In 2016, she endured an abrupt breakup with someone she had been with for 10 years, which caused stress to Alyssa and her family, and made it hard for her to focus at work. “At the end of 2017, I looked in the mirror and felt like a shell of someone I used to know. I lost my sense of identity, but ¡HOLA! quickly taught me that I was worth far more than my ex led me to believe.”

Alyssa attended the 2018 Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) convention where she met Sergio de la Fe, ¡HOLA! national co-leader, who left an imprint on her that night. “He spent his dinner getting to know me, and it was an interesting time because I was still trying to get to know myself,” she said. “What inspired me was how he climbed his way up to becoming a board member at our firm but never lost sight of who he was—a boy from Hialeah. In simply speaking to me at dinner, I felt so important and empowered, and I wanted to pass this feeling along.”

Motivated to get more involved with ¡HOLA!, Alyssa worked with the South Florida Culture, Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) champions at the firm and coordinated internal and external events, including hosting ALPFA student chapters at local offices. “Having gone from failing classes to passing CPA exams on the first try, I felt I had several lessons to share with students.” Throughout her involvement with ALPFA, she unexpectedly became a mentor to a couple of students, which she says has truly been a symbiotic relationship. “I learned how to listen with a purpose, which definitely helped strengthen my personal relationships. I would ask my students more developed questions to understand their thought process. Essentially, I wanted the students to feel like they had someone they could relate to who was rooting for them.”

Alyssa’s commitment to students was recognized when she was appointed director of student affairs for the ALPFA Miami professional chapter. “I have increased my student reach, and now have a relationship with two chapters in South Florida. Since earning this title, I’ve met with both chapters to set goals for the year and identify how I can help the chapter accomplish them.”

The former Fort Lauderdale ¡HOLA! champion at RSM asked Alyssa to take on the audit senior role on her public client. Although Alyssa had never worked on a PCAOB audit, she was up for the challenge with her newfound confidence.  

At the team dinner celebration, Alyssa applied what she’d learned from her ALPFA mentorships and took time to learn more about the engagement partner’s story. “She was intrigued, and asked to co-lead work for a new public client.” Through this engagement, Alyssa had the opportunity to travel abroad to test internal controls for this client.

“It hasn’t always been easy and I haven’t done it alone, but in less than two years I built a foundation for a fruitful future,” she said. “I simply can’t put into words my eternal gratitude for this firm and its people for allowing me to see that I am Alyssa Marie Gutierrez, and that is something to be proud of. And being named the recipient of this award? That’s far more than I could have imagined.”