For using tech to connect the world—and make a difference in everyday life
“My personal mission in life is to democratize knowledge through networking and connecting people everywhere,” says Sergio R. Hernández Torres.
And he’s hopping continents to make it happen—from taking on an IT role in his native Honduras to earning a master’s degree in Sweden to becoming a program leader in Dublin.
Hernández Torres was just 17 when he started at TEN Canal 10, working his way up the ladder over the course of nearly a decade. Because he held down a job all through university, it took Hernández Torres seven years to complete his telecommunications engineering degree, leaving him sometimes feeling like he was lagging behind his peers.
“Now I look back and really value that experience,” he says. “Management actually trusted me with a lot of big projects—one of my first had a budget of US$40,000. That’s a lot of money for a 19-year-old to handle. Thankfully, I’ve had a lot of mentors throughout my career development.”
After he graduated in 2018, Hernández Torres saw the project management program offered at his alma mater, Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana Honduras, as an excellent opportunity to expand his skills. “That’s where I discovered the project management profession and that I really wanted to incorporate it into my skill set,” he says. “I learned a lot about interpersonal relationships and being a leader.”
Around the same time, Hernández Torres completed his Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification and then applied to a master’s program in communication systems at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. And once again, Hernández Torres juggled studies and a job, taking a role as a technical support engineer at telecom giant Arelion with customers around the globe.
“It was a great experience,” he says. “Working abroad and having that international experience gives you the expertise to have a broader reach.”
With his second master’s degree in hand, Hernández Torres last year joined Google as a technical program manager in Dublin. His previous project experience is serving him well in his new role working in enterprise connectivity planning, connecting new offices for the tech behemoth. But he’s also relishing the opportunity to learn and grow at a company with vast resources and a future-focused culture. “Everybody’s very collaborative,” he says. “That’s something I like. You can be who you are and ask questions.”
All of his experiences feed his desire to grow. By observing the actions of others, Hernández Torres is able to identify areas in which he’d still like to improve. “I’d like to expand my leadership toolbox. Something that I admire about some of the leaders inside the organization is their ability to be assertive while remaining accessible,” he says.
One skill he has already mastered? Giving back. He serves as the VP of marketing for the PMI Honduras Chapter, flexing his creativity with branding initiatives. Over the past decade, he has also devoted free time to charitable organizations, including United Way and Voces Vitales Honduras, a nonprofit that provides entrepreneurial guidance and opportunities to women. Additionally, motivated by his strong belief in democratizing technology, Hernández Torres is currently participating as a Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) Ambassador for 2023.
“My way of impacting these organizations was helping them become better and more efficient in what they do through the use of technology,” he says. “I was able to implement software that would help them better track their mentees, apprentices or donations they were receiving.”
No matter where his career goes next, Hernández Torres says he wants it to amplify his worldview—and give him an opportunity to continue to be generous with what he has learned.
“Knowledge is only useful when we share it,” he says.
Q&A: Sergio R. Hernández Torres on learning from failure and using AI to build a better world
What project has most influenced you personally?
Before becoming a project manager, I led a new enterprise resource planning implementation. During this project, many situations arose, including conflicts and poor leadership. Fortunately, I had a supportive counterpart who helped me overcome these challenges. Looking back, this experience helped me discover the profession of project management and taught me the importance of soft skills.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Working at Google and being recognized as a PMI Future 50 leader definitely take the top spots. As a Googler, everything you do can have a global impact on everyday lives. As a telecommunications engineer, it’s not just zeroes and ones that are transported—we connect families, carry news, convey emotions through calls and securely relay financial transactions. Being able to do this at a global scale makes me proud.
Fast forward: What’s one way managing projects will have changed by the next decade?
With the development of AI, many day-to-day tasks for project managers will be simplified, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be replaced. As with any new technology, it’s our responsibility to use it effectively and positively to build a better world. If anything, AI should help the project management profession continue to grow over the next decade.