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Transcript- Episode 106: Bettering Our Cities for the Future Workforce With Alfred Fraijo Jr. The Founder and Partner of the SOMOS Group Episode 106

Nov 7, 2023

00:00:00 Alfred

That's a piece that I think is really critical, is to better understand what your ultimate mission and value is. If you are really focused on imagining a universe where that student that comes to your campus is the most prepared to absorb information and be successful as a student. And that student has issues around housing, challenges, or housing insecurity, then your obligation may be to begin to tackle that. Particularly if you're a landowner, a property owner.

00:00:34 Christina

The workforce landscape is rapidly changing, and educators and their institutions need to keep up. Preparing students before they enter the workforce to make our communities and businesses stronger is at the core of getting an education.

00:00:47 Christina

But we need to understand how to change and adjust so that we can begin to project where things are headed before we even get there. So, how do we begin to predict the future?

00:00:58 Salvatrice

Hi, I'm Salvatrice Cummo, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at Pasadena City College and host of this podcast.

00:01:06 Christina

And I'm Christina Barsi, producer and co-host of this podcast.

00:01:10 Salvatrice

And we are starting the conversation about the future of work. We'll explore topics like how education can partner with industry, how to be more equitable, and how to attain one of our highest goals: more internships and PCC students in the workforce.

00:01:25 Salvatrice

We at Pasadena City College want to lead the charge in closing the gap between what our students are learning and what the demands of the workforce will be once they enter. This is a conversation that impacts all of us: you, the employers, the policymakers, the educational institutions, and the community as a whole.

00:01:44 Christina

We believe change happens when we work together, and it all starts with having a conversation. I'm Christina Barsi.

00:01:52 Salvatrice

And I'm Salvatrice Cummo, and this is the Future of Work.

00:01:56 Salvatrice

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Future of Work Podcast. I am your host, Salvatrice Cummo. Today, we'll be talking about how land use law affects educational institutions and the communities around us. We will also learn about what it's like to go from working at a big firm to starting your own and creating change in the field.

00:02:18 Salvatrice

With that said, I'm very excited to welcome Alfred Fraijo Jr, founder and partner of the Somos Group. Alfred secures and negotiates land use entitlements for complex housing, infrastructure and mixed use development projects throughout California.

00:02:35 Salvatrice

He provides legal advice to clients pursuing innovative, urban renewal projects in the inner city and other sectors with emerging markets. Alfred's real estate and land use expertise and problem-solving extends to structuring and overseeing public-private partnerships and permitting multi-family, housing, commercial, mixed-use, green energy facilities, and college university master plan developments.

00:03:05 Salvatrice

Wow, Alfred. Hi, good morning.

00:03:10 Alfred

Good morning. Great to be with you.

00:03:12 Salvatrice

Good to be with you too. I am so excited to dive deep in some of these questions about what led you here, how you source talent, what's new. So, thank you for sharing your morning with us.

00:03:25 Alfred

Absolutely. I'm excited to talk about land use in particular, Salvatrice, because it's an area of work that growing up and even as a college student I was not aware of. So, to the extent that we can get other folks engaged and informed about this important industry, I'm thrilled to be able to share that.

00:03:46 Salvatrice

How about we start with my famous question that I'd love to ask all the time, because it's an interest to me, not only to our listener, but to me too, is what led you here? Tell us about your career journey. What led you to the wonderful world of land use attorney?

00:04:00 Alfred

Awesome. Happy to do that. Really the answer to that question starts with my growing up in Boyle Heights. I grew up in the east side of LA, raised by immigrant parents. And really, growing up in a community that has a legacy of historic disinvestment, I would say, and also a legacy around particular land use decisions that historically, didn't factor communities of color.

00:04:27 Alfred

So, Boyle Heights has a disproportionate amount of industrial areas. The typical that we know about are freeways and also a lack of green space. But growing up and being involved in community projects, for me was an important element of my awareness around civic engagement.

00:04:46 Alfred

So, civic engagement was really important to me. I was really fortunate to get involved in a youth leadership program that was organized by our then council member, Richard Alatorre. And council member Alatorre had this youth group, it really opened my eyes to activism and the work in politics.

00:05:05 Alfred

So, I decided to go to college and be involved in the political process and in government. I focused on government and I thought if I want to go into and be a civil servant and be in government, I need to understand how laws are made, and how they're enforced. And so, I decided to go to law school.

00:05:24 Alfred

I went to law school with an idea that I would be a civil rights attorney. That I would be involved in working to protect the underrepresented in our judicial system. And my first summer Salvatrice in law school, I was really fortunate to be able to intern with a non-profit called the Greenlining Institute.

00:05:46 Alfred

The Greenlining Institute is based in San Francisco at the time, it's now in Oakland. And it was founded on the premise of combating historic redlining. So, systemic disinvestment by financial institutions in communities of color. So, there were literal maps that guided bankers on where to lend money and where not to lend money.

00:06:12 Salvatrice


00:06:12 Alfred

And those maps really informed access to home ownership, access to small loans for businesses, communities of color were within those red areas. Those were the areas where banks really avoided investment.

00:06:24 Alfred

And the organization was designed to ensure that these banking institutions that are regulated by the federal government did a better job at investing in communities of color. And so, it was an advocacy group.

00:06:39 Alfred

It was also a civil rights group. It challenged these large institutions around their community reinvestment act obligations, and ultimately, created an important reform around investment in community development by these large institutions.

00:06:54 Alfred

And so, I joined the non-profit and my awareness around the issue as it relates to real estate investment, particularly in low-income minority communities, was a huge educational opportunity for me.

00:07:09 Alfred

And I understood that lawyers could really influence the way local government, the way developers identify projects and opportunities for investment. And I could advise them around the investment in these low-income minority communities.

00:07:24 Alfred

And so, I found my calling. I saw this nexus between the law and advocacy, community organizing, and social justice. From that moment until today, my practice as a lawyer has been really centered around community development. So, it's been a great journey.

00:07:42 Salvatrice

That's amazing. That's an amazing story. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing that. I too took it down some notes about what you were sharing. For those who are listening who may not truly have an understanding about land use law and both the negative and positive effects it has on a community as respects to development, can you share a little bit more about what exactly land use law, when does it come into play? What does it look like and how does it negatively or positively affect a community?

00:08:15 Alfred

Absolutely. Happy to do that. So, let me first try to provide some background on it. So, land use law is really a branch within the practice of real estate law. And real estate law in California is really oriented around transactions or business agreements that relate to the use of real estate.

00:08:36 Alfred

So, the very typical transactions that would be within the real estate law umbrella would be purchase and sale agreements, round lease agreements, license agreements. Anything that touches dirt, I like to say, has to do ... those particular contracts lawyers will be involved. And a branch within that area is the actual opportunity to use the property based on local laws and regulations.

00:09:06 Salvatrice


00:09:06 Alfred

And that's what we refer to as the use component. There are laws that govern the kinds of uses that could occupy real estate in California. The general structure around that is written into the California Constitution, which says that local government, meaning cities and counties, have the power to govern the uses on real estate no matter where that property is located.

00:09:33 Alfred

So, you can imagine, for example, commercial corridors, industrial corridors, single-family residential areas, et cetera. All of those are shaped by the rules that dictate how much you can build, what type of housing you can build, or commercial uses you can build, etc.

00:09:54 Alfred

And all of that is written into local land use rules. That, as I mentioned, are typically dictated by either counties or cities. And those are found in the zoning code of the local municipal code. And that's really the area of law I would say that we operate under.

00:10:16 Alfred

We take those sets of rules and help our clients navigate how both to use them and whether or not they need particular modifications to achieve their business objectives. It might be building a hotel or building a new residential tower, or building office and what we refer to as mixed-use development, which is a combination of different uses. And that's really a growing area.

00:10:41 Alfred

Now, I would say that most anything that's built on real estate has some nexus to these particular rules. And so, historically, as you can imagine, those rules were written in the ivory tower or city hall chambers. And only certain influential individuals had the power or had the authority to really affect how these rules were written.

00:11:08 Alfred

And I mention that because my work has really been about democratizing that process, about including a diversity of voices on how land use laws should be both written and enforced. And really, fundamentally, it's about the future of cities.

00:11:28 Alfred

How do we imagine growth in cities? How do we think about investment in our infrastructure, whether it's transportation or public spaces and green spaces, whether it is imagining commercial corridors that perhaps may be designed in a way that serve small businesses or ensure walkability and safe streets and sidewalks. All of those things - how those ultimately developments happen, have some connection to the work that I do as a land use attorney.

00:12:04 Alfred

And so, for me, it was really not only an important area, because it really dictates the future of cities, but I found myself having a unique role in being able to connect my clients to those decision-makers in city hall.

00:12:20 Alfred

And what I found was that the more voices you have at the table to be able to articulate the needs of communities, local government is better informed, and therefore, better policies are proposed and adopted that support those communities.

00:12:35 Salvatrice


00:12:36 Alfred

One example Salvatrice that I'll mention is the work that I'm doing with institutions that are focused on education. So, as you know similar to the institution you work for, there's a number of educational organizations, nonprofits and universities and colleges that have a large footprint, a real estate footprint.

00:12:56 Alfred

And so, we've been advising those large institutions about how they can grow within their real estate footprint in a way that both meets their need, whether it's growing student population or the need to build housing for faculty and students.

00:13:12 Alfred

And as a plan, their development and growth, one component that's been really important is their partnerships with those local governments that have a say in how that growth should happen and where. And so, I'm often negotiating those types of both relationships and agreements between these larger institutions and those stakeholders, call them government, neighborhood associations, homeowners associations, et cetera.

00:13:40 Salvatrice

Got it. I mean, working for a public entity like ours, and maybe this might be getting too much into the weeds, but what hurdles are we faced with as a public entity who's looking to reimagine their existing footprint and or expanding it?

00:13:57 Salvatrice

I think that there are a lot of public institutions that are in a position right now where they have a footprint that is either underutilized or is currently being reimagined. And I guess what I'm trying to ask is like the level of difficulty or the level of feasibility around a client who might be in the private sector, a private university versus a public entity like ours.

00:14:23 Salvatrice

Is it similar? Are you finding that public entities have more flexibility even though it's a highly bureaucratic environment and high policy-driven environment?

00:14:36 Alfred

I love that question because it really touches on the work that I do on a day-to-day basis. And the way that I think we can think about that is there's both opportunities and challenges with public institutions like you mentioned. The challenge, I think, is that you have to operate within the structure of what's authorized under state law as a public institution.

00:14:58 Alfred

And so, that's really the starting point. That can be, I would say, highly regulated and bureaucratic. And so, I talked to my colleagues about it, and it's like job security for me because it gives me a chance to be an advisor on how to think about those rules. But ultimately, I think it results in better projects.

00:15:19 Alfred

But here's, I think, on the other side where the opportunity exists. And I think that that opportunity starts with the conversation with the decision-makers in each campus to really think (and this is the important part) what is their obligation as a stakeholder in the community?

00:15:36 Salvatrice

I like that.

00:15:37 Alfred

What is their role?

00:15:39 Salvatrice


00:15:40 Alfred

Oftentimes, public institutions are really, as they should be, really focused on educating that student. And they don't think of themselves as a property owner. They don't think of themselves as an anchor institute in a larger ecosystem that really impacts the way communities are either healthy or not healthy.

00:16:00 Alfred

So, I think of real estate as a tool for bettering communities from that standpoint. So, one example of that is the way that the campus is designed. Is it designed to be a fortress, to be exclusionary from its neighbors? And we can think of local institutions that are designed that way. Or is it designed with an eye of inclusivity?

00:16:24 Alfred

How are the public streets and roadways designed so that they are inclusive? How's the open space created so that we can be inclusive of perhaps the kids that live in the neighborhood? Is there an opportunity to think about facilities that could be used by local neighborhood groups in addition to faculty and students?

00:16:45 Alfred

And so when you start those conversations, you think about really those opportunities of elevating that institution as a stakeholder and a generator of benefit in a larger way.

00:16:59 Salvatrice

Got it.

00:17:00 Alfred

The other piece that I think is important is the issue of sustainability. When we think about growth on campus, we really need to be aware and cognizant of climate change and climate adaptation. And fortunately, larger institutions, because they have the academic background, are highly informed of the existential challenges that climate change has presented for organizations in California and throughout the world.

00:17:25 Alfred

And so, thinking about future growth and campus planning with an eye towards environmental sustainability is really critical. That means thinking about resource use, thinking about how we allocate sustainability targets for efficiencies for each individual buildings, how we think about water reclamation and water recycling, how we think about the green space and how that potentially leads to better air quality, not just for the students, but also for the residents in the area.

00:17:55 Alfred

So, all those things are what we incorporate into a strategic plan and a strategic focus for that institution. The last thing I'll mention is that all of that doesn't happen in a vacuum.

00:18:09 Salvatrice


00:18:09 Alfred

There are other laws, both local and state that mandate the study of how new development impacts the environment. So, we think specifically about the California Environmental Quality Act as an important statute. CEQA, is a big part of the work that we do. Because it requires that before any decision is made around future growth, that those potential environmental impacts be considered.

00:18:34 Salvatrice

Thank you for sharing that, because I got so much golden little nuggets from just your response to that question. I took so many notes. But one of the things that I've experienced is these conversations, or the obligation as you put it, our institutional obligation as land use owners to the community, oftentimes, like these conversations do not start or even entertained unless there is something driving, which is typically a bond that was passed.

00:19:05 Salvatrice

And so, now, we have the funds to do it. I know we're going off script here a little bit Alfred, but like how do we get public institutions to really talk about this, whether or not? Or start democratizing the process as you shared earlier?

00:19:22 Alfred


00:19:22 Salvatrice

How do we engage in those dialogues ahead of the curve so that we are well-prepared? I mean, are you seeing any institutions or any of your clients that are really working proactively around their obligation versus waiting for that one moment where there's a bond issued?

00:19:41 Alfred

Another great question, and I'll answer that through a specific example of the work that we're doing here at Somos. We have the incredible privilege of working with the LA Community College District. LACCD is, as you may know, Salvatrice, the largest community college system in the nation.

00:20:02 Salvatrice

That's right.

00:20:03 Alfred

And they started this journey around thinking of themselves as this anchor institute and using their real estate for a larger good because of the need that their students had for housing.

00:20:17 Salvatrice


00:20:18 Alfred

So, they started evaluating and doing surveys, and what they discovered was that over 20% of their student population was housing insecure. Almost 20% had food insecurity as well. And that really forced a reckoning within the institution to reimagine what their mission was when they talked about treating the whole student. So, when an institution says, "Hey, our educational outcomes depend on the health and well-being of our students ..."

00:20:52 Alfred

How does housing influence the health and well-being of those students? How does having food insecurity influence the health and well-being of the students that ultimately lead to educational outcomes?

00:21:03 Salvatrice


00:21:04 Alfred

So, it was a really important conversation to have. And I would say that's a piece that I think is really critical, is to better understand what your ultimate mission and value is. If you are really focused on imagining a universe where that student that comes to your campus is the most prepared to absorb information and be successful as a student.

00:21:27 Alfred

And that student has issues around housing, challenges or housing insecurity, then your obligation may be to begin to tackle that, particularly if you're a landowner, a property owner. And LACCD, the community college district, at that point, had not contemplated a bond, had not considered a ballot measure that would allow them to raise capital for housing development.

00:21:52 Alfred

But it was that initial conversation and seeing, okay, if our mandate is to treat the whole student, then we have to really tackle the issue of housing. And so, it started with those series of questions, which ultimately led to the ballot measure that was voted overwhelmingly by the voters last year that will enable them to build housing. But it was those initial conversations that I think are really critical.

00:22:14 Salvatrice

That's a beautiful example. That's actually a stellar example. And I think we're barely scratching the surface as public institutions around housing insecurity for students. It's direct link to educational outcomes. I think we have a ton of work to do still around it, a lot of which might initiate change in policies and processes and just the way we even conduct business as an institution.

00:22:38 Salvatrice

But thank you for sharing that. Thank you for sharing that. That's a really great example. I want to shift gears just a little bit because you said something, you said the Somos Group. So, I want to kind of shift gears a little bit, Alfred, and share with our listener how you went from a large firm to starting your own firm, the Somos Group.

00:22:58 Salvatrice

And I suspect I understand the driving factor behind it just based on our dialogue. But tell us a little bit about what drove you to build Somos.

00:23:08 Alfred

Absolutely. Happy to talk about that, and it's an exciting journey. So, thank you Salvatrice, for the opportunity to share my story. My hope is that it motivates other entrepreneurs because ultimately what we are forming is really a new company, and a new way of being an advocate for clients.

00:23:25 Alfred

So, as you mentioned, I say I grew up in big law. I was a lawyer at a large law firm based in Los Angeles. I was the first of many positions. I was the first openly gay associate to be elevated to partner. I was the youngest partner to be elevated to equity partner at my firm. And I was the first Mexican-American to serve on the executive committee of one of the largest law firms in the U.S.

00:23:54 Alfred

And I mention that because in many respects, that's what motivated me and kept me there. It was what I felt was an obligation to continue to keep those doors open so that I was not the only one. I may be the first one, but certainly not the last one and not the only one.

00:24:12 Alfred

So, it was really, for me, meaningful to be able to break those barriers and ensure that we had a place at the table. Whether it was for greater representation in our Latino community, or greater representation in our LGBT community, and lived experience.

00:24:28 Alfred

I mentioned early on in our conversation that I grew up in Boyle Heights. I grew up housing insecure. I grew up, as I mentioned, really a product of those decisions that were being made around the use of land.

00:24:41 Alfred

And so, I finally was at a perch where I was influential and had the ability to really transform the way that we thought about this area of law. And I'm really proud of the track record we had.

00:24:50 Alfred

But more and more, I was called upon by my clients to help them deal with these extraordinary challenges that I felt really required a multidisciplinary approach. In other words, lawyers alone could not solve these challenges or these problems.

00:25:08 Alfred

It really required a team of experts. And historically, I was calling on my friends and my peers in other firms, in other companies (many of them were not lawyers) to join me in developing the best strategies for our clients.

00:25:24 Alfred

And so, a couple of years ago, I imagined a law firm that would be comprised of both lawyers and non-legal professionals that could work together to solve the biggest challenges facing our large institutions and facing our cities.

00:25:39 Alfred

And so, that was the original sort of concept of Somos Group. We were formed earlier this year. I have an office in Los Angeles, and I have an office in San Francisco, two of the largest urban centers of California.

00:25:56 Salvatrice

Nice, yes.

00:25:56 Alfred

And we're excited. What I imagined as a multidisciplinary platform is exactly what we have here. And the reception and response from our clients has been tremendous.

00:26:07 Salvatrice

Excellent. Are you hoping that your approach, this multidisciplinary approach that you know that you're not testing but doing, you're doing with Somos Group, that that's what influences the field? Or how are you envisioning Somos influencing the current field?

00:26:23 Alfred

Well, it absolutely is transforming the way that law is practiced. Because historically, the practice of law was confined to these like blue-chip institutions.

00:26:35 Salvatrice


00:26:35 Alfred

I'll tell you one particular story as it relates to the practice of law, and that is the genesis behind law firms, was that about 150 years ago, a group of lawyers got together to pitch in, collect their capital, and purchase a law library.

00:26:55 Alfred

And the law firm concept came out of that idea that you would aggregate and pull your resources to acquire these really expensive books that held all of the statutes (in this case, it was in Massachusetts) - state statutes and local codes.

00:27:12 Alfred

And so, the concept of a law firm was really oriented around the access to information. And what's happened in our modern area is a complete revolution on accessibility of information. We have this fancy platform called the internet, where everyone has access to municipal law that we talked about, to state law, has access to case law - cases that have been published, decisions by the judicial system.

00:27:42 Alfred

And so, that has really led to this democratization of information. And so, lawyers are no longer the gatekeepers of this coveted information. Everybody has access to it. And so, it really calls upon our profession to imagine themselves differently in how they serve their clients.

00:28:05 Alfred

Our clients no longer come with us for access to information. They come to us for access to ideas. And I think that that's the next era of revolution. It's the revolution of ideas and it's a competition of ideas. And I believe strongly that the ideas that will prevail in making the biggest change are those that come from a group of multidisciplinary experts.

00:28:32 Alfred

We've started talking about this issue as it relates to diversity. We know that diverse groups are more productive and more effective if they have more women representation, more obviously gender representation, but cultural and race representation, they're much more productive and much more creative.

00:28:50 Alfred

And Somos Group is a reflection of that. It's a manifestation of that concept that the more diverse you are, the stronger and perhaps, more creative you can be. And certainly, our clients, I think, benefit from that concept.

00:29:04 Salvatrice

Yeah. I can see it, I can hear it. You've inspired me, Alfred. I may want to change my own profession and go into law at this point.

00:29:14 Alfred

Come join us.

00:29:14 Salvatrice

I'll tell you, strategy development and idea generating and problem solving, gosh, it's so much fun. It's so much fun. It's hard work. It's very, very hard work.

00:29:25 Alfred


00:29:25 Salvatrice

But I love the concept and momentum in which you're vocalizing and saying, "Look, we are no longer the holder of information, that doesn't exist anymore."

00:29:38 Salvatrice


00:29:38 Salvatrice

That doesn't exist anymore. And still, there's that mindset.

00:29:39 Salvatrice

I mean, it still kind of exists, that mindset of even those within the profession saying, "Gosh, well I'm the holder of all information."

00:29:46 Alfred


00:29:46 Salvatrice

"So, come to me." And it's just like, "Well, no information is readily available. It's open access."

00:29:53 Alfred


00:29:53 Salvatrice

And so, individuals and clients are looking for a thought partner-

00:29:57 Alfred


00:29:58 Salvatrice

That can navigate them through it, drive a map - write the map, drive the map, and get them there. Because there's so much value in that.

00:30:07 Salvatrice

And I think that the industry (and correct me if I'm wrong, Alfred) has a long way to go to embracing that new evolution kind of where lawsuits and attorneys-

00:30:21 Alfred

In all areas.

00:30:22 Salvatrice

In all areas, not just in land use, but in land use law, but in all areas of law. It's definitely kind of like a new feeling. And I would also suspect that there's this accessibility. I have access and I don't need to have a specific status to access minds like yourself and others on your team.

00:30:46 Salvatrice

So, I feel that even just this brief time that I've had with you, that there's an accessibility that is like no other firm that I've encountered. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like you welcome that accessibility for all clients regardless of-

00:31:03 Alfred


00:31:03 Salvatrice


00:31:04 Alfred


00:31:05 Salvatrice

Status, all those words.

00:31:07 Alfred

Exactly, all those words, but all those barriers, right?

00:31:11 Salvatrice

Correct. Correct.

00:31:13 Alfred

Both systemic, meaning institutionalized, but also personal. We grow up with understanding the world around us and there's plenty of information out there that indicates whether or not we can feel included or we can have a sense of belonging, or a sense of power and agency.

00:31:31 Alfred

And I would say that that word is really meaningful to me, a sense of agency, because it's an acknowledgement that we have the power to change the world. That we have the power to be able to change our environment. And historically, communities of color, the information that we get around us, may be the opposite of that. And so, for me, it was really important to try to write a new narrative.

00:31:56 Alfred

And I also want to share with you the point that you weighed in perhaps, emphasize what you were sharing Salvatrice, which is this concept of, hey, there is this new opportunity now that access to information is readily available, and the barriers have in some ways decreased.

00:32:15 Alfred

Is that in addition to that, while information is readily available, I do think that there is a new awakening around this concept that the current systems that we have and the current ways of approaching problems are not working.

00:32:34 Salvatrice

That's right.

00:32:34 Alfred

That we need new ideas and new solutions to really disrupt. We think about climate change as that threat, and we can't assume that we can continue to approach the problems and challenges in the same way and expect a different outcome.

00:32:49 Alfred

And so, I do think that in our industry, there is a willingness, and frankly, as I mentioned, an imperative to think differently, to embrace new ideas and work with diverse groups such as the one that I've created here at Somos. So, I'm excited about that.

00:33:09 Salvatrice

Yeah, I feel it. I feel it. I can absolutely feel it. I'm not even in the same room with you, Alfred, and I can feel it. It's amazing. It's absolutely amazing. And it's infectious because it rings true. And thinking about the group, thinking about the talent that's around you and the team that you've created, how are you acquiring or recruiting or even motivating new talent in this space? And how do you do that?

00:33:38 Salvatrice

And then second part of that question would be, is there an opportunity or have you worked with educational institutions to kind of spearhead that pipeline and motivate the new talent in this direction of what you just shared today?

00:33:52 Alfred

The way that we recruit and retain talent at Somos, for us, it starts with the idea that this issue of inclusivity and belonging is not a special initiative. We don't have a committee formed that is going to study the issue or is going to promote ideas.

00:34:10 Alfred

It is really embedded in everything that we do, in the way that we talk about our work, in the way that we think about our clients, and in the way that we support our workforce, is that we're really searching for folks that not only have the education, but we really value lived experience.

00:34:28 Alfred

And it's a different way of thinking about qualifications. It's a way of thinking differently about someone's resume. If you have overcomed specific challenges or have, like I mentioned, certain lived experiences that are core to the challenges that we're trying to solve, you are the expert.

00:34:49 Alfred

It doesn't mean that you have a doctor degree in that area, but it means that you have the experience to be able to propose solutions. And that's a piece that's really critical.

00:35:01 Alfred

The second piece I would say is that point around agency where we really have a flat organizational structure where everyone is valued, where everyone is contributing to the representation of our clients. And I say, we will give you as much as you can handle.

00:35:22 Alfred

And so, it's not this ... and I think that's relevant. And I mention that because I think it is relevant, particularly for younger generations that are not as motivated by this sort of lockstep promotional process.

00:35:37 Alfred

They're really motivated by having the ability to work on meaningful projects and influence the way that those projects are handled. And so, we often are mindful and intentional in the way that we put our teams together for its specific clients, so that everyone has a role that is fulfilling both from a professional standpoint, but also, from a personal standpoint.

00:36:00 Alfred

And the final thing I will say, is growing up with multiple identities. I mentioned I'm Mexican American. I grew up in poverty. I'm LGBT member, a member of the LGBT community. In many instances, in my experience as a professional, I had to check one or two or more of those identities at the door. I had to navigate and code switch, and that can be really exhausting. It could be really diminishing.

00:36:28 Salvatrice

Absolutely. Absolutely.

00:36:29 Alfred

And so, we're really focused at Somos to make sure that you get to be your whole self every day in the work that you do.

00:36:38 Salvatrice

I love that. And I feel like you've answered my last question, because my question was going to be geared around organizations and companies. I mean, we talked a little bit about the talent, the new talent and upcoming talent.

00:36:52 Salvatrice

Given that this is a future of work podcast and as we prepare for the future workforce, my question to you was going to be what should companies and organizations, what is one key thing that they should be implementing within their own establishments to prepare for the future of work? And I feel like you already answered it, but there might be some more, there might be some more.

00:37:12 Alfred

Awesome. I think that for me, the one key issue is to really be able to communicate your vision and the spirit of your company. Meaning you must have a attitude about the world that is larger than the particular thing that you are either selling or doing. What is that role?

00:37:34 Alfred

And I think that that really motivates people to think of themselves as agents of change in their society in a meaningful way, and having that clarity.

00:37:43 Alfred

The second piece is being able to communicate that message in platforms that are accessible to our younger generations. As a firm, we're really intentional to make sure that participating in this podcast, Salvatrice is such a privilege for us.

00:37:58 Alfred

And I'm grateful for this opportunity because it gets to communicate our story to a broader audience. And that's really so meaningful for us because that's truly what we're talking about, is to be able to share our stories and to be seen. And if you have a company where your employees are able to tell their story and feel seen and heard, you got a winning combination.

00:38:21 Salvatrice

That's beautiful. That is like the best way to sunset this conversation. I love it, I love it. This has been such a beautiful morning. Thank you for sharing your time, your energy, your space with me. I'm very much looking forward to continuing the dialogue at some point beyond the podcast.

00:38:39 Salvatrice

And thank you, thank you. If our listener would like to connect in some capacity, what's the best way they can connect with you? And we'll enter that in the show notes.

00:38:48 Alfred

Fantastic. Thank you again, Salvatrice. It's been a real pleasure for me to participate. I'm grateful for the opportunity. If your-

00:38:56 Salvatrice

You're welcome.

00:38:57 Alfred

Listeners would like to continue to stay in touch. We welcome that as well. We encourage them to visit our website at or reach out to me directly at Thank you.

00:39:14 Salvatrice

Excellent. Thank you so much. Have a beautiful day and we'll connect again soon.

00:39:19 Alfred

We'll be in touch. Thanks so much.

00:39:21 Salvatrice

Thank you.

00:39:21 Salvatrice

Thank you for listening to the Future of Work Podcast. Make sure you're subscribed on your favorite listening platform so you can easily get new episodes every Tuesday. You can reach out to us by clicking on the website link below in the show notes to collaborate, partner, or just chat about all things future of work. We'd love to connect with you.

00:39:44 Salvatrice

All of us here at The Future of Work and Pasadena College wish you safety and wellness.