Ricardo Marquez

Olivier Tattegrain

Sept. 26, 2023

“Seeing the passion from people who wake up every day to change the world, it’s cool to be a part of that — to know that if a breakthrough happens, you were part of helping the people that created that is pretty incredible.”

- Ricardo Marquez

 

Name: Ricardo Marquez

Title & Department: Senior Human Resources Specialist

How long at PPPL: Since 2016

 

Thriving in Human Resources

Ricardo Marquez never considered a career in human resources (HR) when he was younger, but the past seven years as a human resources professional at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) proved that HR is a field in which he thrives.

Marquez came to PPPL as a human resources assistant and is now a senior human resources specialist, where he is given the opportunity to help staff members every day. “I love helping people and making a difference, and Princeton gives me the opportunity to actually make an impact,” Marquez said.
 

Connecting with others

Marquez was born in Camden, New Jersey, and lived there for half of his life until his family moved to Pennsauken, New Jersey, where he graduated from Pennsauken High School. Marquez lives with his wife, Katherine, in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. He has two daughters and two twin step-daughters: Serenity Marquez, 24; Alyssa Marquez, 13; Kassandra Torres, 25; and Katelynn Torres, 25.

After high school, Marquez joined Bloomberg and worked his way up the ranks, starting as a receptionist and ultimately becoming the North American manager for front-of-house services, where he was responsible for brand management.

Marquez was laid off after 17 years during a restructuring at Bloomberg and began searching for new opportunities. A former manager recommended a job in HR at PPPL because of Marquez’s friendly personality and ability to connect with others.

He was initially unsure about changing to a career in HR, but he thought the position at PPPL was only temporary and it would be a good way for him to get his foot in the door of a new industry and figure out whether or not he liked it. “It was kind of kismet,” Marquez said. “When I started in human resources at PPPL, I really thrived in it.”

He quickly learned that he enjoys helping others and making a positive impact. “We spend so much of our lives at work, so anything I can do to give staff members a more pleasant experience and make them want to stay because they know they’re being taken care of is what brings me to work every day and keeps me growing in my career,” Marquez said.
 

Describe your job:

“I’m a senior resources specialist, so my responsibilities on the team are to handle all leave of absence, including any leave of absence outside of vacations. I’m also responsible for HR projects and process improvements. I’m the website manager and creator of the HR intranet site and manage all of the team’s technology. When employees come to me, they know I’ll do the best thing for them while also taking care of the Lab.”
 

How has the HR department changed since you joined?

“When I started, there were about six people in the HR department, and currently, there are 15 people in the department,” Marquez said. “Back when the department was only six people, everyone came to my wedding. They were like family to me, and now, with a larger team, it’s harder to keep that kind of close-knit relationship, which is why keeping consistent direction is one of our biggest priorities.”
 

Three things about yourself:

  1. “I’m a former professional salsa dancer and instructor. I’ve also taught dance at the university and PPPL events.”
     
  2. “I’m a musician. I primarily play the drums as well as the trumpet, and I’m a singer-songwriter. Music and the performing arts in general are a very big part of who I am as a person, even culturally with my Hispanic heritage.”
     
  3. “I’m a martial artist. I’ve done capoeira, which is a Brazilian martial art, the one that looks like breakdancing. I helped found a school in Philadelphia with a master from São Paulo, Brazil. I’ve also done wing chun kung fu with one of Bruce Lee’s original instructors.”
     
Ricardo Marquez salsa dancing with Deedee Ortiz at the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality + Cultural Understanding

Ricardo Marquez dancing with Deedee Ortiz at the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality + Cultural Understanding. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

In the past, Marquez helped lead a Hispanic Heritage Month campaign at the Lab. Marquez is adamant about dispelling the idea that Hispanics are one homogenous group that lacks variety. “My approach to Hispanic Heritage Month is the same as when I teach people salsa,” he said. “I don’t only teach to Latinos; I teach it to anyone who wants to experience the joy of dance. Once you learn it and start dancing with us, you aren’t Black, White, Asian, Greek, Jamaican or whatever. You are a salsero because you are taking part in and celebrating the culture. To me, that sentiment is what Hispanic Heritage Month is about.”
 

What does working at PPPL mean to you?

“Whenever I tell people at the Lab about what we’re doing here, they’re always blown away by the scale of it all. Seeing the passion from people who wake up every day to change the world, it's cool to be a part of that — to know that if a breakthrough happens, you were part of helping the people that created that is pretty incredible.”

Ricardo Marquez with a wax sculpture of Albert Einstein. (photo by Ricardo Marquez)

Ricardo Marquez with a wax sculpture of Albert Einstein. (Photo courtesy of Ricardo Marquez)