When Luis Soto joined the team at the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) in November 2021, he knew he had found his dream job as a data analyst. What Soto did not know is that he would also find a new extended family.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Soto, now 26, has lived in the Rockville, Maryland, area since the age of 5.
“I have not gotten a chance to travel back (to Argentina) yet, but am certainly planning to,” Soto said. “I still have family over there, so it will be nice to see relatives in my birth country again. Argentina has some of the best food you can have — if you’re willing to try new things.”
As a data analyst, Soto enjoys working with numbers … but it was not the career path he originally planned to follow. After graduating from high school, he attended Montgomery College in Rockville, where he initially studied art animation before switching his focus to computer science and information systems.
“I found a love for business and data management,” he shared. “I transferred to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and got a degree in information systems. I love networking and working with data. Working with numbers and making inclusions based on numbers was something I really liked.”
In his current role, Soto helps support the TCA Profitability Program (TPP), an exclusive business performance improvement initiative provided by the association. In addition to helping new members with the onboarding process, he reaches out to individual members to help get them situated and answer any questions they may have.
Soto, who is knowledgeable in Python, C++, SQL, and noSQL, also has some advice for those who may be seeking a role similar to his.
“Keep all of the knowledge you learn in college,” he advised. “In a lot of majors, you hear people say that they didn’t really use a lot of what they learned in college, but with data analysis and information systems, it’s incredibly relevant. I was surprised to learn how much I learned in college was applicable to this job. Keep it fresh and practice it constantly. Remember your queries. That is invaluable information.”
Perhaps even more than being able to work in the data analytics field, what makes Soto’s role special to him is the people he works with every day — other members of the TCA staff, along with association members across the country.
“I love the people here,” Soto said. “All of the members are very nice. They are very, very invested in what they do, and they love what they do. They are all very welcoming in terms of helping someone like myself. I’ve always been a people person and I’m very extroverted. When we do conventions, meeting people face to face, you get to hear a lot of stories. Hearing where people come from is very heartwarming.”
Looking to the future, Soto says he hopes to be on the forefront of new technology in his field, noting that just a couple of decades ago the role of “data analyst” did not even exist.
“Twenty years from now, wherever technology may be, that’s where I want to be,” he explained. “I want to do exactly what I do now, but with newer technology that will allow us to do it better, more easily, and more effectively.”
Soto may have found his passion in data analysis, but he has not lost his love of art animation, an endeavor he still pursues in his free time.
“My love for art did not suddenly vanish,” Soto said. “I just happened to like data analysis and working with computers and technology and networking more.”
When asked about his favorite aspect of working for the TCA, he reiterated the association’s sense of family and community.
“I love the staff,” Soto said. “Everyone here at the TCA is so nice. Shana (Gipson), who is new here as well, says she feels right at home. They are all just so nice. Having a great work environment makes everything all the better.”
UP CLOSE WITH LUIS SOTO
Place of birth: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Most humbling experience:
Growing up, I took most things for granted. It wasn’t until I got to college, when my parents really sat down to talk to me about all the sacrifices they had undergone to get to this country, that I really gained some perspective of my place in the world. After that, I realized that one day I was going to have to make some hard decisions and that I’d have to be prepared for the worst and to make some sacrifices if push came to shove. Life is unexpected.
People say I remind them of: Michael Peña
My guilty pleasure: Making art
My greatest challenge as a professional: Adapting to new challenges
I would never wear: Birkenstocks
I have a phobia of: Large bodies of water
A goal I have yet to achieve:
I have yet to create something big I can put my name on and be proud of.
The people I’d invite to my fantasy dinner party:
Joseph Gordon Levitt, Q Hayashida, Seba Jun, Yann Tiersen, and Mads Mikkelsen
The last book I read: “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Bea
The last movie I saw: John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” made in 1982
My favorite song: “Metamodernity” by Vansire
One word to sum me up: Unconventional