You Must Do the Things You Think You Cannot Do” – Eleanor Roosevelt
In September 2017 Forbes added Geisha Williams to their Fortune 500 list. She is the first Latina to sit alongside other prestigious names of the 500 biggest companies in the US. Ms. Williams a 56-year-old Cuban immigrant steering the wheel of PG&E. The company with 20,000 on payroll is a major natural gas and electric energy company based in San Francisco.
In March 2018 for the second time, ALPFA released a list of the most powerful Latinas in business. The list of mega successful Latina executives has nearly doubled in the past year. Women are sitting in C-Suites of large corporations, as well as running their own businesses as entrepreneurs. In 2017 women made a significant impact to the economy by contributing to much more than half of US’ consumer spending. Today, we’re infiltrating corporate America from the inside getting an opportunity to be leaders in various industries. This is in despite the fact; we make about 80.5 cents for each dollar a man makes according to recent US Census data.
Ms. Williams tops the list of most powerful Latinas and is in great company. Other names include Grace Puma, Executive Vice President Global Operations of PepsiCo responsible for managing a multi-billion dollar operation. Another accomplished professional is Myrna Soto, Global SVP and Global Chief Information Security Officer at Comcast. Nina Vaca is also highlighted as Chairman and CEO of the Pinnacle Group. They are one of the biggest workforce solutions firm providers in the country, Latina-owned. She can add to her resume Director of several Fortune 1000 companies and an induction into the National Minority Business Hall of Fame. Lastly, Anilu Vasquez-Ubarri, Managing Director, Chief Diversity Officer and Global Head of Talent at Goldman Sachs . The world renowned firm is a leading global investment powerhouse hiring the best talent. The list of names go on, worthwhile taking a look if you want to feel inspired.
I was born and raised in New York City, daughter of Dominican parents. Growing up, female role models in my community were scarce. There was limited exposure to intelligent, strong, business-minded and confident women of Latino descent. The idea of a woman having a spot at the conference table with a group of men wasn’t born, yet. Unfortunately, some cultures still hold a similar mindset. Movement toward change has been slow. Perfect example were comments made by Qatar Airways CEO regarding the inability of women to do his job because it was too challenging. Apparently, it is his opinion only a man could lead the company. He publicly apologized for his statement today (A-Ha!).
My reading on these women’s accomplishments led me to ask myself some questions that could help me determine if I’ve genuinely, wholeheartedly tried everything possible to obtain the success I desire.
The first part of the task was to figure out how I defined success – not society’s definition. I don’t have an interest in keeping up with the Joneses. The picture of success for me is about personal fulfillment and adding value in some way not only in my life but others’ too. It signifies having an ability to provide financial security for myself and my daughter. Lastly, a bonus would be turning my skills, gifts and talents into a useful career. I’d like to be doing something that will mentally challenge me, increasingly making me stronger both internally and externally. I used to think this was a tall order but the more I read, more convinced I become that we set our own limitations of what is possible. Guilty as charged, I had been doing it for years for fear of failure. A desire to be all things to all people forced me to give up trying to reach my goal. The need to take care of everyone else first, hoping there would be room for my needs later down the road. I wanted to be the perfect mother and wife without dropping any of the several balls I had up in the air. Guess what? I dropped the biggest one, ME! If I don’t have the confidence in myself to set and achieve the goals, it will never happen. The good news is that it’s never too late. We are fabulous, capable and ready to thrive! We just have to want it badly enough.
Life is a journey, although it might seem long, it’s really not. We blink to find a gray hair, a wrinkle, our children in college and time on the clock running out. Time doesn’t wait, neither should we. Don’t wait too long before you start working on achieving your definition of success. Do the thing you fear most, once we’re vested there’s no going back.
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