Paychex's Efrain Rivera rises to the top.

Author:Ogden, Jason

For Efrain Rivera, senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of Paychex, taking risks in business and career is not only the reason he got to where he is today, but it's also the embodiment of the Latino and Hispanic culture in modern day business.

Rivera joined Paychex in June 2011 and was formerly corporate vice president and chief financial officer at Bausch and Lomb, a global eye health company. Paychex works with small- to medium-size businesses in the payroll field, working small to big, just like Rivera has done in his career.

But growing up in a large family in Patterson, New Jersey, and splitting his time between the United States and Puerto Rico, Rivera's original goal was to help support his mother, a telephone operator, and his many brothers and sisters.

Living in two different cultures, from the northern state of New York to the island of Puerto Rico, was one of the early experiences that helped Rivera make decisions later in his career that some may call risky, e.g. taking residence in another country to further his career.

Before thinking about a career in international business, however, he worked on his education and tried to make ends meet for his struggling family with a single mother and many siblings.

"I was really less focused on my own opportunity and much more focused on being able to help my mother," he said.

The importance of family is one of the reasons Hispanics stand apart from many other business operators in the United States, Rivera believes.

"I think we're also more family-oriented," he said. "We see many more people involved in the running of the business. It's not just a business penchant but a family enterprise and a source of pride. We need to encourage more Hispanic entrepreneurship in the country."

After high school, Rivera attended a small college in Rochester, far away from the city, to complete his bachelor's degree. But he eventually went to New York University for a law degree and spent a short time as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice doing commercial litigation.

His time in law helped him get with Bausch and Lomb and eventually overseas.

Moving around, spending time in different countries and learning to adapt to changes--plus a willingness to take on risk--all benefited Rivera and helped him work on his career in Mexico.

"One of the unique things about my background is that I spent six years in Mexico when I was working for Bausch and Lomb," he said. "I like to...

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