FirstGenTalent is a study on finance and utility professionals in California. The study includes participants from all backgrounds, with a focus on first generation professionals (FGPs) -- those who are those who are the first in their family to embark on a professional career.

The inspiration

We believe FGPs may hold unique skills that are often overlooked. Likewise, they may experience both barriers and resources throughout their career that non-FGPs may not encounter. However, very little research has been conducted on FGPs. Led by Bernice Maldonado, herself a first generation professional in L.A., FirstGenTalent aims to fill that knowledge gap, and provide groundbreaking research to answer the question “what is the experience of first generation professionals, and how can companies better support and utilize their unique talents?”


A mixed-methods approach will be used, consisting of an online survey followed by a series of phone interviews.
All responses are completely anonymous.

How will the research be used?

The research will be used for several purposes. One will be to share with other first generation professionals, such as through affinity and professional groups, so they can utilize it to support their own career. Secondly, the research will be shared with those in the financial and utilities industries to utilize and help create a workplace that can be even more supportive of FGPs, and better utilize their unique talents. Lastly, it will be used to support companies who are interested in more deeply applying the findings.

Who will get to see the findings?

All research participants will receive a detailed summary of the findings. We anticipate that individuals will find this useful for their own career progression, and leaders will find it helpful for business performance. It will be applicable both to diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and to leadership and high-performance employee programs. Additionally, a less-detailed summary of the findings will be made public at in 2019 for those who did not participate.

About the team

Bernice Maldonado

Bernice Maldonado -- Project Founder

Bernice grew up in a working class family in Southern California. Though her parents had very limited education and her mother was illiterate and unable to speak English, she went on to earn an MBA and successfully land several high-visibility roles in multiple corporations. Having the first-hand experience of starting several steps behind many of her peers, she has intimate knowledge and expertise in providing the skills and competencies that enable individuals to succeed and incorporate their background as a competitive advantage. Currently, she is a strategy consultant and advisor at Growing Forward, a Los Angeles based strategy consulting firm dedicated to maximizing organizational effectiveness and diverse talent management.

Martha Burwell Photo crop.jpg

Martha Burwell -- Researcher

Martha is a social scientist who specializes in diversity and inclusion mixed-methods research. She holds a Master of Science in intersectional gender studies from a top university in Europe, and has designed and led diversity research projects in many industries, including technology, startup, nonprofit, action sports, and event operations. She also holds a business operations background, and helps organizations “translate” their good intentions into reality through the application of diversity and inclusion techniques into day-to-day operations.