To celebrate Latino Appreciation Month we spoke to our North America People Hub Director Tulany Doglio. Tulany was raised in Panama City and has worked with us since 2019, where she’s played an instrumental part in hiring for our brands and attractions in North America…
Hi Tulany, first of all tell us a little about yourself…
I was born and raised in Panama City, Republic of Panama. My country of birth is mostly known for The Panama Canal, it’s rich fauna and flora and the warmth of our people. I was fortunate enough to grow up bilingual. In fact, I spent a lot of my school years around my maternal and paternal grandparents who mostly spoke to my sister and I in English. We practised our Spanish, which is Panama’s official language, on the weekends with my parents. This is why I am often asked why I don’t have a strong Spanish accent when I speak. I have my family and cable TV to thank for that!
I attended bilingual schools and completed my engineering and master’s degree in Panama as well.
I am married to my best friend, Kevin. We met while we were both working for Caterpillar. I was an early hire in Panama and he was travelling back and forth from the US to set up Caterpillar offices in Panama. The rest is history 😊 I moved to the US and we had been residing in Illinois until late last year, when I found the opportunity to share my magic at Merlin Entertainments in Florida! We recently settled in to our new home in Florida and have been enjoying the weather, closeness to my baby nephew and all that Florida has to offer (sans COVID).
I am the oldest of two. My sister also lives in Florida so finding this role with Merlin was a huge plus. I get to spend more time with her and her family, which includes an adorable two-year-old boy named Cayden who brings so much joy to the family.
Although I did not have any children of my own, I do have the privilege of enjoying grandma-hood! I have 3 daughters through marriage (Kara, Jenna and Kelsey) and one of them made me an abuela to Nori Ann about 3 years ago. Two more grandbabies, baking as I type!
Before you joined us, what were you doing?
Most of my work experience has been with global companies. Before joining Merlin, I help set up an HR Shared Service Centre in Panama for big yellow (Caterpillar). I held several roles while at Cat, including that of HR Manager and Six Sigma Black Belt. When I moved to the US, I worked a few years for a media company and learned a lot about the digital world. Most recently, I worked for a nationwide construction company based out of Illinois as their Senior HR Manager. Earlier in my career, I did some interpreting and translation, which I believe further expanded my English vocabulary.
So, what brought you to Merlin Entertainments?
After being in my previous role for a few years, I was ready for a new challenge. I quickly realized I would have to expand my search area because the job market in the area I was living in was very dry. Kevin and I agreed I could look for opportunities in any place warmer than Illinois! As luck would have it, I came across the advert for the People Hub Director role at Merlin Entertainments. The advert caught my attention right away. I had kept an interest in going back to shared services and the opportunity to help build something from the ground up was enticing to me. As an added benefit, Florida checks the “warmer than Illinois” box, my sister is here and there is so much to do in the area!
I had never heard of Merlin Entertainments before so I did some research, got even more excited about the company culture, values and future growth plans –and decided to apply. Being able to be a part of an organization and culture that puts making lasting memories with our guests at the forefront is so refreshing.
How did an engineer end up in HR you ask? Well, I decided I am an engineer that enjoys working closely with people. Having the ability to influence an employee’s experience with an organization is fulfilling to me. The HR world is continuously challenged and evolving and I enjoy being a part of that. I get to flex my process improvement/ problem solving muscles within this discipline as well.
What’s it been like going from the construction industry to the entertainment industry?
It has been a welcomed change. Refreshing. There are similarities in the seasonality of some of the activities in both industries and how it impacts workforce planning, hiring, retention, engagement and so on. I am enjoying learning entertainment and theme park lingo and having an opportunity to work among such talented and creative individuals.
What is your role all about? What do you enjoy? What’s your biggest challenge?
In my role as People Hub Director I get to lead a group of talented professionals that support the HR needs of leaders, MCs and team members across North America. I see myself as the orchestra conductor, adjusting instruments, making sure our “music sheets” (processes) are top notch and keeping harmony across our lines of business.
What I enjoy most is being a part of building the culture at the Hub and the opportunity to develop others. I would say that my biggest challenge is reminding myself that bringing others along a change process takes time -it’s a journey. Change is not always easy, and the Hub has introduced a lot of it in a short period of time. Still, I believe in what the shared services model can do for Merlin North America and I embrace this challenge head on!
As someone with Latin American Heritage, what has your experience been like working with us?
From the onset, I perceived an appreciation for diversity and expressing individualism. The interview stage was engaging and welcoming. Many team members had been hired for the Hub by the time I was onboarded, and it was quickly evident that some time and effort was set forth to try to build a strong team. I love the fact that many of my peers both locally and globally are bilingual and come with a wealth of experience that they can “show up with” at Merlin. I can be my authentic self at Merlin and that is important to me at this stage in my career.
What do we do well when looking after our Latin American staff, and what can we improve on?
Firstly, I think we recognize the fact that we have many staff members of Latin American heritage. We take diversity of background, thought and experiences into account when searching for the best talent to join our teams and the Latinex population is a large part of that pool. Hearing/seeing Hub employees address a Spanish speaker in the language they are most comfortable in when they contact the Hub will never get old for me. In our space at the Hub, we take pride in having several hubmates of Latin American heritage.
I would follow the above by adding that I would like to see even more initiatives around uplifting our Latinex staff locally and globally.
As someone with Latinex heritage, what’s been your biggest challenge in the world of work in the USA?
I have been fortunate in the sense that my Latinex heritage has served as a booster in my career in Panama and now in the USA. Because of my heritage and growing up surrounded by so much diversity while in Panama, it’s made me really conscious and appreciative of the importance of being open to other cultures, tolerant and understanding.
Now, I must confess that there is a stereotype in the USA of what a Latinex person “looks like” and “sounds like”. This is slowly changing as we all become more educated, but I definitely benefit from my developed 2nd language skills and that has opened many doors for me career wise.
As a person of colour, and as someone with Latinex heritage who is now working as a Director, do you ever feel extra pressure within your role, to represent and inspire other people with similar backgrounds and life experiences?
Yes, I do and I don’t mind it. I am proud to be able to contribute in representing and inspiring others with similar backgrounds and experiences.
Particularly at Merlin, I am fortunate to have been hired into a very visible leadership position as a woman of colour as well as an immigrant during a time where people have such strong opinions about all of those things. Because of this position I have the opportunity to not only positively impact changing the narrative for Latin American women in the US workplace, but also the opportunity to help others around me become stronger allies to those with different backgrounds and countries of origin in the world of Merlin Entertainments.
Would you recommend Merlin Entertainments as an employer?
Yes, I would. My experience at Merlin so far has been rewarding. Challenging on most days, but in a good way (smile). It is fast paced and people centric and I enjoy both. I think that current and future Merlin staff have a great opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of those we strive to make smile!
If you could leave everyone with one message, what would it be?
Be OK with being uncomfortable. It leads to change and growth. Diversity of thought, background and origin enriches our lives. Don't be scared to unlearn stereotypes.
You have the power to create your own narrative. Adopt a positive and healthy approach to thrive in a workplace that isn’t always thinking of including you.