Like many Ontra employees, Alondra Tristan (call her Tristan) found her way to Ontra via the legal profession. In her role as customer engagement associate, she plays a crucial role helping Ontra devise solutions for customers. Tristan is very outgoing and loves meeting people, so if you run across her, be sure to share what lights you up…and feel free to do so in either Spanish, English, or Korean – all languages Tristan has under her belt.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, Tristan talked to us about her background, her path to Ontra, and how her Hispanic heritage has shaped her values and outlook.
How did your career journey bring you to Ontra?
As a kid, I wanted to be a lawyer or an astronaut. After taking AP Physics, I ruled out joining NASA.
I worked as an administrative assistant at an insurance firm while attending the University of Houston, but that wasn’t preparing me for a law career. So, I got a job as a legal assistant at an intellectual property law firm, and was eventually promoted to a paralegal role. Graduating in the middle of the pandemic shook up all the plans I had made for myself.
I didn’t want to attend law school right away, so I moved to Minneapolis and landed a job as a legal assistant at a big law firm. That’s when I learned the reality of being in the field and working long hours.
Missing my family and friends, I decided I wanted to move back to Houston and began looking for different opportunities. That’s when I came across Ontra. I applied for the customer engagement manager (CEM) position. It was a big reach because I had no experience managing accounts, so I didn’t get the job. But Ontra reached out about the entry level version of the job a few months later. I had already interviewed with Frank DeSimone and loved that we shared so many experiences and ideals.
What is your role at Ontra?
I am a customer engagement associate, and was actually the first one at Ontra. I formally started my position in July 2022 and since finishing orientation, am now in contact with customers. I mainly support Frank DeSimone and his strategic accounts, as well as accounts transitioned from CEMs.
The job is a great fit for me. I’m an extrovert and love to figure out fixes to problems and how to make people’s lives easier – it’s just a matter of listening to what isn’t working for them.
Which of Ontra’s values resonate with you and why?
I was born in Mexico and raised in Texas, and collectivism is a big part of my culture. That includes respect for peers and elders.
Collectivism ties into the Ontra respect value. Everyone in a company shows respect for each other and we’re all working toward the same goal. It doesn’t make sense to treat others differently based on hierarchy.
There’s mutual respect between me and my manager Frank. I can talk to him on both a personal and professional level. Being open with each other in this way reinforces the teamwork concept.
What does Hispanic Heritage month mean to you?
I grew up in Houston, one of the most diverse cities in the US. I was around people from many heritages and learned so much. So, I appreciate that months like this – including Asian and Pacific Islander Month and others – allow people at work to learn and honor these different heritages.
At the same time, Hispanic Heritage month groups all people of Hispanic descent under a single label. I’m from Mexico, and my experience is completely different from somebody from Cuba or the Dominican Republic. I love seeing how cultures come together and recognize mutual – and also different – struggles.
How has your culture inspired you and influenced your career?
Many aspects of my culture inspire me, but especially respect for all and the collectivist spirit, helping each other reach a mutual goal in a caring way. It’s about focusing on the greater good, and that’s been my experience at Ontra. Everyone works together as a team.
At big law firms, it seems everyone focuses on where they are headed personally in their career and what they’ve personally accomplished. At Ontra, it’s about where we are going collectively, and what we are accomplishing together.
According to your LinkedIn profile, you speak English, Korean, and Spanish. What prompted you to learn multiple languages and does this proficiency come into play in your role at Ontra?
Spanish is my native tongue, and I learned English watching cartoons and taking English as a Second Language lessons.
When I was pursuing a Bachelor of Arts, I tested out because of my Spanish language level. This gave me the opportunity to go outside of the courses offered and not worry about the grade I earned. That gave me the freedom to take a language without worrying about making mistakes while learning, and I chose Korean. I learned through the Korean Embassy in Houston. I don’t speak the language well, but I can read and write and would be able to get around if I took a trip to Korea.
My experience learning languages makes me open to other cultures. As I encounter people of different backgrounds, I take a few minutes to get to know them. That’s really helpful in building community in a remote-work environment. I might reach out via Slack to learn more about a colleague’s cute cat that I saw on the “Animals at Ontra” channel. Or if I see that a coworker and I share an interest, I’ll reach out so we can talk about it.