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Monthly Employee Highlight: Nelson R. Cortez

Every month, we choose an employee to appreciate their excellent performance and dedication. We run a short interview with them to learn more about them and gain insights and wisdom.

This month, we have Nelson R. Cortez, from our Toronto office.


Q. Briefly introduce yourself: what your role is at ARS and how long you've been at ARS.

A. I am Information Technology Manager at ARS/GEM. My major role is to be responsible for IT network infrastructure for all our offices in Canada as well as in the US. It's been over four years now since I joined the team.

Q. What are some unique parts of your role at ARS?

A. Working with and for all divisions at different locations within the organization definitely has its own unique sides. The main focus is to make sure all locations are always fully functional by maintaining all core systems up to date and preventing any network downtime. The company has been rapidly growing for the last couple of years, and it pushed me to take the organization to the next level. I constantly keep myself on my toes to learn and update myself with ever-evolving new information and knowledge of my profession. There is no other way: You need to be a very active all-time learner for this role.

Q. ARS is a place that promotes the value of teamwork How do you see the value of teamwork in your everyday work?

A. Teamwork is impossible without transparent, effective communication. When two or more people are working for the same cause, undealt and unrecognized miscommunication can severely hurt morale and productivity. Working for a number of different offices and thus different needs, it is a must to make an extra intentional effort to achieve a high level of competent communication. I am very fortunate to work with dedicated coworkers who are in the same boat with this principle.

Q. What is the book that has greatly influenced your life?

A. Downright, it is Dr.Wayne Dyer's The Power of Intention (, I need to tell you how I encountered this book. I walked into a bookstore and saw a book that was about to be fallen from the bookshelf. I immediately pushed the book in and then walked away. Strangely enough, I kept feeling that I had to go back to that bookshelf and take a look at the book that I just saved which I did. The rest is history. I appreciated this book very much that I even attended Dr. Dyer's seminar when he came to Toronto.

This book is like a caring friend who genuinely wants you to be your best self and live a life of meaning and true contentment. It teaches you how to set your intentions that are aligned with your life goals, how to keep yourself in tune with them, and actively utilize them to shape your life. Dr. Dyer's teaching has definitely influenced my life including my career.

Here is one of my favourite quotes from the book: "Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change."

Q. What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

A. My own son is currently working towards a career in Information Technology, the same field I am at. I tell him to stay focused and disciplined. Know the difference between the important and the urgent and choose the important. You don't want to let the urgent things crowd out the important, things that truly matter.

I use this analogy of 'toolbox' which my son is very much familiar with. Every 'experience' you gain is like a tool that you collect in your toolbox. You get to walk your life with this toolbox of which tools you will frequently take out and use for different circumstances and challenges. Therefore, first, make sure you get good experiences. Not every experience is the same. Second, don't be afraid of making mistakes or even failing. If you make mistakes, it only means you are not really trying hard enough. Failings after trying your very best become the best tools in your toolbox and they will make you stronger and wiser. Last, don't neglect the small, still voice from within. Many times your heart knows the best answer so listen to it carefully.

Q. In the past few years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

A. First, it is to have a healthy balance between work and your own time. It is impossible to work smart and effectively when you don't take sufficient time to rest, get refreshed, and have quality time with your loved ones (in my case, it is my family).

Second, don't forget to respect other people. I will never forget the time when a colleague of mine I used to work in the past came to me and thanked me for having taught him to say 'good morning' to people first thing in the morning when coming into the office. He said that simple thing has changed his life. We come to work to get our jobs done but we must never be disrespectful in any circumstances. Be kind. Be courageous enough to be honest.

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