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CNET en Español: The 20 most influential Latinos in tech

For the third consecutive year, CNET en Español showcases the 20 most outstanding, creative and talented Hispanic professionals working in the US technology industry.

CNET's Spanish-language sister site, CNET en Español, has assembled its annual list of 20 Latinos working in technology. As in 2014, this year's list includes a group of men and women leading teams in high-profile companies in and beyond Silicon Valley.

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The task has not been easy. It's already difficult to find Latinos in senior positions in large corporations -- and finding them in the field of science and technology is even harder. As we said last year, the expression of finding a needle in a haystack could be rewritten to say that something is "more difficult than finding a Hispanic in the tech industry."

Of course none of this detracts from the enormous talent, commitment and creativity of all the professionals who are part of this list -- quite the opposite.

In celebration of this year's Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 through October 15, and of CNET en Español's second anniversary (September 19), we have selected 20 Latinos who are making their mark in this competitive industry. (Here's the full text in Spanish on CNET en Español.)

This year's list covers a wide range of positions, experience, skills and, of course, stories. It includes six women, and professionals from Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Americans of Hispanic origin. They work in companies and organizations ranging from AT&T, Oculus, Microsoft and Sprint to NASA and the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). We have a manufacturer of smartphones; two NASA engineers (a Mexican and a Venezuelan); a creator of drones; a "wizard of holograms" at Microsoft; and even a philologist responsible for giving life to Intel's virtual assistants.

If you want to meet and know more about them, check out the gallery below (in Spanish):

It's difficult to single out one of these professionals, but the stories of Pilar Manchón (of Intel) and Silvia Vásquez-Lavado (eBay/PayPal) are excellent examples of the effort, dedication and talent that characterizes this group. Manchón, born in Sevilla, Spain, founded a successful virtual-assistant firm that was acquired by the chip giant. Vásquez-Lavado, a Peruvian executive, was able to turn her traumatic childhood into the guiding force that propels her career and personal projects.

How did we find them? This was a team effort. After the publication of our 2014 list, the team behind CNET en Español began a search for this year's candidates by asking and gathering information from each one of them. A voting process ensued to make sure we all agreed on the most notable candidates. To be sure, these are not the only talented Hispanics we found in the tech industry -- many of those included in last year's list could have very well made it to this year's selection -- but this list provides a good glimpse at the talent and diversity of origins, stories and experiences that constitute the backbone of these professionals.

The characteristics and traits we sought in these professionals included: origin (Spain or Latin America, or Hispanics born in the US); working in the US or at a company with operations in the country (for this reason it took us three years to include Hugo Barra, one of the most outstanding Latin American industry leaders whose company, Xiaomi, just began operations in the US this year); and those who are in senior positions, involved in the decision-making process or playing key creative roles (designers or engineers). We have also included some names from last year's list (Sprint's Marcelo Claure and DDM Brands' Luis Sosa), although the rule we have set is that no one will make the list for more than two consecutive years.

Here is CNET en Español's 2015 list of the 20 most influential Latinos in tech (in alphabetical order)

  • Alicia Abella, Assistant Vice President, AT&T
  • Cindy Alvarez, Director of User Experience, Yammer (Microsoft)
  • Thaddeus Arroyo, CEO, AT&T Mexico
  • Alfredo Ayala, Principal Technical Staff at Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development
  • Hugo Barra, Global Vice President, Xiaomi
  • Arturo Béjar, Former director of engineering and head of the anti-bullying and etiquette division, Facebook
  • Rafael Camargo, Project leader Google ATAP / Project Ara
  • Marcelo Claure, CEO, Sprint
  • Leandro Graciá Gil, Project leader, Cardboard Project, Google
  • Alex Kipman, Technical Fellow, Operating System Group, Microsoft
  • Ramiro López Dau, Director and Animation Supervisor, Oculus VR
  • Pilar Manchón, Director of Intelligent Digital Assistance & Voice Intelligence, Intel
  • Andrés Martínez, Director, Small Spacecraft Technology Program, NASA
  • Evelyn Miralles,Principal Engineer/Lead Innovator at NASA JSC
  • Jordi Muñoz, Cofounder, 3D Robotics
  • Rafael Reif, President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Ileana Rivera, Senior Director IT, Cisco
  • Luis Sosa, CEO and Cofounder, DDM Brands
  • Silvia Vásquez-Lavado, Principal of Enterprise Technology and Financial Systems, PayPal
  • Marcos Weskamp, Head of design, Flipboard