Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month: Carlos Armas
Carlos Armas is Treasury Prime’s Vice President of Technical Operations. Carlos leads a team that manages a wide range of duties including cloud services and DevOps, IT support, developer support, technical compliance and information security. The team’s main goal is to ensure the business is operating optimally with strong emphasis on security and privacy. Prior to joining Treasury Prime, he spent more than a dozen years as a DevOps consultant with Roundtrip Networks. Carlos began his career leading network services for one of Cuba’s biotechnology institutes.
You spent a lot of your career in consulting, including with Treasury Prime. What made you decide to join?
I’ve known Chris for a long time — we worked together on an eCommerce website in 1998, the year I left Cuba. I sensed Treasury Prime was a great opportunity, and believed that it could be something special.
I told my wife that if I didn’t join and Treasury Prime took off I’d be mad at myself and that if I joined and it didn’t work out, at least I know that I worked really hard towards a goal. At that point, my wife said it sounded like I had already made up my mind. So I officially joined Treasury Prime and while I’ve technically been a full-time employee for about two and a half years, I’ve been with the company since early 2018 as a consultant.
And now you work for Treasury Prime in Canada. How did you end up there?
Back in Cuba I had little opportunity to improve my life both professionally and economically. When the opportunity to leave for Canada in 1998 presented itself, I took the chance. I initially lived for a couple of years in Ottawa, but I missed the sea too much. I moved to Vancouver on the Pacific coast, and that’s where I settled. I love Canada.
While the Cuban diaspora is huge — I think you can find Cubans anywhere on the globe, including Iceland and New Zealand, where a friend of mine now lives — the center of it is obviously Miami. Whenever I go to visit, I’m always asked, “Why Canada, it’s so cold!”. I have to say though, when it gets rainy in the Vancouver winter, a visit to family and friends in Miami is a welcome respite.
You didn’t leave Cuba until you were 30. What was it like growing up there?
One thing I really remember about living there is that it was relatively carefree, especially as a kid. I grew up in a small town and remember getting home from school, dropping my bag off with my grandma (it’s common for there to be multigenerational households in Cuba), have a snack (where my grandma would chastise me for not eating enough at lunch), and go out to play with my friends. On my block, I remember there were 17 of us and we’d play a game similar to baseball, fly kites, and more.
I also remember nights of long blackouts. The adults would play dominoes by makeshift lights and it was a special honor if a kid was allowed to watch — but only to watch in pure silence. TVs were also not very common, so growing up, we’d all pile into whichever friend’s house had a TV and watch cartoons.
How did your experiences in Cuba shape you?
Because I was born a few years after the Cuban Revolution, my life experience was strongly influenced by it. Of course there’s a lot to this moment in history. There had been racial discrimination against Afro-Cubans and after 1960 there was a big push to eliminate that.
I remember growing up in a place where race was not a factor in deciding who would be your friends, classmates, and neighbors. I loved that.
And of course, I remember all of the delicious home-cooked food, with tostones and fried plantains being my all-time favorites. I have a friend in Miami who makes tostones for me every time I visit. And I drink a lot of Cuban coffee while there as well.
Why is it important to you to celebrate your heritage?
I think it’s important because it is the core of who you are and where you are in life today. But I think sometimes you become so accustomed to your culture that you don’t always appreciate it.
Being away from Cuba and witnessing the interest that others have in my culture and where I’m from reignited my own interest in my heritage. People point out to me the things that they’re interested in and what they’d like to learn about, and seeing my culture from their perspective has helped me pay more attention to that aspect of myself. Over the years, I’ve spent more spare time reading Cuban literature and listening to Cuban music. Most importantly, I'm learning about an important part of Cuban history that I had not been exposed to due the political environment in Cuba when I was living there. It’s like rediscovering my history and culture.
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