Guillermo Merelo joined the Diversity Works New Zealand team last month in the role of Diversity Manager.
Guillermo is a HR specialist with more than 20 years of experience and a strong background in public management and policy. He has worked as an academic researcher and is a published author on integration and inclusion. We’ve asked him all the tough questions so you can get to know him better.
Tell us about your background I am originally from Mexico City. Although my parents were always around, I grew up with my grandmother, my aunts and female cousins; most of them were single mothers in a very conservative society so from very early in my life I became an ally of feminist causes. It is probably because of this that I decided to go to law school, to fight injustice. Nonetheless, while I was studying I got a job in HR and that is how everything started. Once I got my law degree, I decided to pursue a Masters in Public Management and Public Policy with a focus on HR and Diversity in the Public Sector, studying in both the United States and Mexico. When I got back to my country I was appointed Executive Director of the Electoral Service in Mexico City. That was a very challenging position but was also the opportunity to apply everything I had learnt about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Once my appointment was about to end my husband and I made the decision to have an overseas experience so we moved to New Zealand where I was accepted at the University of Auckland to do my PhD. My research there was mostly about migrants’ integration and inclusion to New Zealand.
What’s the most interesting job you have ever had? Probably it was my first job as a middle manager in a public hospital. It was a very complex role that required understanding so many different views, relationships and understandings of something I did not know anything at that time. Moreover, there I understood the notions of community work, development and public value. It was also my first contact with HR practices.
What do you love about New Zealand? Three things: 1) the sense of egalitarianism people enjoy here, 2) The amount of ethnic cultures and their expressions specially in Auckland, 3) Kiwi yoghurt and ice cream, probably the best in the world.
What’s your perfect Sunday? Morning in the office, from there, lunch in the CBD, a walk in the Art Gallery and a movie later.
What are you currently reading? A biography of Wittgenstein.
What’s the one place you have never visited that you would like to travel to? The Solomon Islands, because I love the Pacific and I am curious.
Why have you chosen to work in diversity and inclusion? Because I have been “the other” way too often. I know how it feels.
What are you looking forward to about working at Diversity Works New Zealand? Everything.
Who inspires you? I have so many personal heroes it would be difficult to pick one.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? A programme on innovation and creativity in the Civil Service my team and I designed 10 years ago.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Never eat watermelon after 6pm.