Juan Otero: Connecting Communities at Comcast and Beyond
As Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) at Comcast Corporation, Juan Otero manages key corporate DE&I initiatives around governance, public policy, and employee engagement. Juan was recently featured in an interview for Hispanic Executive where he talked about the company’s commitment to digital equity, its ability to make an impact, and what the future holds. Read excerpts from the interview and learn more about Juan below.
Q: You’ve specialized in telecommunication issues throughout your career. How did that start and what drew you in?
A: “I was working on technology issues as the Internet emerged and gained momentum in the late 1990s. At the time, policy makers at the local, state, and federal levels wrestled with the value of this disruptive technology, how it works, and how we could or should tax or manage it to create economic growth. Can everyone access it? What does that answer mean for communities of color? It was those questions and issues around equity in emerging technology that drew me in.”
“My dad was a military man. He ingrained in me the notion that anyone can identify a problem. It’s what you do about the problem that matters. I saw this as an area where I could make a difference and bring a perspective and voice to support communities of color not at the table at this critical time.”
Q: When did you first encounter Comcast NBCUniversal and what made you want to work for them?
A: “I first encountered Comcast and the broadband industry while working at the National League of Cities. Broadband, wireless towers and all forms of infrastructure were being rolled out at an unprecedented rate. There were issues with zoning, public safety, and taxing, all implicating local governments. I then moved to the National Governors Association, where I worked these issues from an economic development perspective.”
“At that point, I was considering where I was from a career perspective. It was around a milestone birthday, so I was having a pivotal moment in my life. Being reflective, I realized I had my local, state, and federal education, but never spent time in a corporate entity.”
“I really wanted to join a company authentic in its work in local communities, committed to DE&I, and invested (with both time and resources) in making real change. Prior to joining Comcast, my experiences at the state and local government associations allowed me to peer into the company through our collaborations on policy issues. It gave me real insight on the company’s culture and commitment to partnering with local and state policymakers to develop meaningful solutions on issues impacting the industry, like broadband deployment. This provided the proof point I needed. When offered a job, it was really a no brainer. Fifteen years later, I still consider it home.”
Q: You learned the internal business up close holding various roles in government affairs. What was behind your move to lead Diversity, Equity & Inclusion?
A: “I already was doing some DE&I work in my other roles, but one of the great things about the company is constant opportunities to grow and do different things. It was a chance to do work I care about and leverage my past professional experience, while simultaneously continuing to grow and challenge myself.”
Q: What excites you most about this work?
A: “I’m excited by our ability to drive meaningful change, both internally and externally. For example, being able to apply a DE&I lens to new technology to ensure greater accessibility for people with disabilities, such as our talking remote.”
“I’m also excited to lead our DE&I data analytic work. It is fascinating to not only see trends in workforce, but also to use that data to shape various priorities that include workforce, procurement, civic engagement and community impact efforts. Additionally, I’m proud of our employee engagement work to make us an even more inclusive culture. The issues are vast, but always interesting and that is exciting.”