female leadership men in board room

ALPFA Yvonne Garcia what is missing in female leadership?

Yvonne Garcia female leadership

Yvonne Garcia, SVP of Global Head of Client Solutions and PMO at State Street Corporation, and National Chairwoman, Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) (Courtesy of Yvonne Garcia)

Do women have particular talents that might help them develop female leadership skills –more compassionate, innovative, team and community building oriented? In a very harsh business environment where companies are only interested in financial results, female leadership has been a struggle for women in general and Latinas in particular. So what are women missing in order to achieve positions of leadership?

About this significant topic, we interviewed once again Yvonne Garcia, SVP of Global Head of Client Solutions and PMO at State Street Corporation, and National Chairwoman, Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), to share some of her viewpoints in preparation for the Most Powerful Latinas Summit, co-sponsored by Fortune Magazine and ALPFA to take place in New York City.

Yvonne has risen to the higher ranks of leadership as both a global corporate leader and a national civic leader.

At State Street Corporation, she guides a high performing global team that provides end-to-end services for Fortune 100 companies in the financial sector by delivering superior service to clients and deploying cutting-edge technology and operational processes.

As the National Chairwoman of ALPFA, Yvonne has led the organization to increase ALPFA’s membership to a record high of almost 80,000 members since the first time we interviewed her in 2014.

Are women better leaders?

“To answer this question, I think in terms of talents women have that help them become better adept at leading,” she told “For instance, women often perform with great creativity and inclusiveness because they tend to solicit broader opinions. These abilities are known to build more cohesive teams,” she stated.

Although generalizations are not always precise, Yvonne sustains that women excel at empowering staff because they encourage openness, and usually make themselves available to the people they manage.

Experience shows that in a world where results are largely defined by motivated and cohesive teams rather than by products or brands, female leaders are very well equipped to encourage people to go the extra mile for achieving excellence,” she said. “Being open and accessible, and leveraging and celebrating differences –which defines strong skills at hiring and managing diverse teams–, and usually unafraid to ask for input, female leadership is gaining real momentum and presence,” she shared.

woman leading meeting female leadership

Still a controversial issue, studies tend to agree that these abilities, talents or skills seem to be largely the result of different neural connections in the male and female anatomy of the brain.

“These differences make women hardwired to be multi-taskers, something any mother or teacher could have told you. Most women excel in social skills and emotional intelligence, which I believe allows us to be creative and innovative; abilities all industries value because they are becoming more and more critical in achieving results,” she said.

Other conditions favoring female leadership

In addition to their talents, natural abilities and skills, other conditions are beginning to support female leadership development. With more women in the workforce and slowly gaining access to middle management roles, it seems that society is definitely moving in the female direction.

“Women now earn more college and graduate degrees, and we make up more than half the workforce,” she added. “Although ‘in theory’ we are closing the gap in middle management –a pipeline to the C-suite –, the pay gap and the lack of a support system still continue to exist in large scale according to research,” she said.

college graduates female leadership

Women accounted for 47 percent of the labor force and 38 percent of all managerial positions in 2011 (BLS, 2011), and have made slow but steady progress in some levels of corporate leadership, with 16 percent of board seats of Fortune 500 companies being held by women –a 40 percent increase over 2000 (Catalyst, 2005, 2012), studies show.

“Companies that employ women in large numbers are showing greater increase in performance and profitability than their competitors on every measure,” Garcia affirmed.

Similarly, company boards with women are more profitable but the argument does not seem to support increase of female leadership. “This is ironic,” Garcia said, “because according to the Anita Borg Institute, ‘Fortune 500 companies that include the sustained representation of at least three women board directors significantly outperform those with no female directors,’” she shared.

So what is missing in female leadership?

Women currently hold only 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and the same percentage of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. So what do we need to do to break these glass ceilings?

  1. Get comfortable with risk:

“First and probably most important,” Garcia said, “is to get comfortable with risk. Women are taught from birth to be risk-averse, as I discussed at ALPFA’s National Convention two years ago in the Atlantic’s article on the confidence gap, ‘they approach work with a different mindset’ — one which values exactness, tight deadlines, and perfection of finish over experimentation and rough prototyping,” she shared with

“Women shouldn’t be fighting for a place at work; they should be inventing, designing, prototyping, and coding a new idea of work—something not based on an out-dated belief about gender roles in society.”[1]

  1. Gain confidence:

“Success, it turns out, correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence, as authors Kay and Shipman sustain. We need to have no doubt that we are more than good enough to lead; that we deserve the promotion and that we are as capable as our male counter parts,” Garcia affirmed. “We need to have no doubts about ourselves and make it a part of our being and that of our daughters and our staff and our networks,” she said.

“As managers, we need to emphasize this to our junior staff and help them gain the confidence to grow without penalty, as men have done for many years to their protégées who were not born with greater leadership abilities,” the ALPFA leader sustained.

“We should be encouraging men to also build a safe supportive environment and cultivate opportunities to develop confidence, the ability to fail without major consequences, as well as the mentoring that creates the habits of success,” she continued.

female leadership men in board room

3. Gender roles at home:

“Women are going to need to create a similar support system for themselves as they have provided for men. Men have generally been afforded the largely unencumbered ability to focus on work and experiment at the cutting edge of innovation. This includes school, work and creation of critical networks,” Garcia explained.

However, she warns women that this decision can come with a price – a new normal. Taking the lead at work and accepting the assignments may require long hours, travel or relocation; financially, women choose more of a breadwinner role and perhaps accept being less of a caretaker or child bearer.

“We need to build and better define our own version of gender roles. As partners we need not to make it an ‘either or’ situation, but this balance does require a new paradigm – a new normal, “she sustained. “It also requires a candid conversation with your family, including children if you are a parent – an understanding of the value this brings to the lives of all involved.”

4. Reeducate women:

Women need to be sponsors for each other!

“I always say there is enough room at the top for all of us! Let’s help each other rise together! Too often, you see women behave as if they are in competition with each other. Bring your team with you. Open doors for others. Incorporate into your individual success the success of other Latinas and women, and lead with a social perspective in your sphere of influence. We are certainly stronger together!” Garcia affirmed.

5. Educate men and help them be part of the cause:

“Men can champion side by side with women to dismantle the cultural and institutional barriers to female success,” Garcia said. “Many men are in the position to open the door for women, and can help us create a new paradigm that will benefit everyone. I believe this will bridge the real confidence gap,” Garcia said. “I personally have benefited from many great male mentors and champions and am a stronger professional and leader as a result.”

What is in Latinas’ future then?

“The great news for Latinas is that many of these researchers took into account how strong-willed, hardworking and purpose-driven women are,” Garcia shared. “Especially Latinas; we manage crisis and change very well, and are turnaround experts,” she sustained.

“To become more confident, women need to stop over analyzing things so much and just act. As a parent, there was never that ‘perfect’ time to have a child. I see many things in life the same way. We will always find an excuse as to why we can’t or shouldn’t take that next step. If we channel our talent for hard work and leverage our innate drive, we can wire our brains differently. What neuroscientists call plasticity, we call HOPE!” the global leader concluded.





[1] Mrs. Smith, Partner at Changeist. Oct 27, 2016 ‘Why We Shouldn’t Teach Girls to Code’

Will Robalino

William Robalino newest Padrino in Editorial Advisory Board

William Robalino, Padrino and member of Editorial Advisory Board

William Robalino, Padrino and member of Editorial Advisory Board

We welcome William Robalino, our newest “Padrino” and member of our Editorial Advisory Board!

I’ve known Will for quite some time through common activities and organizations. He is a dedicated professional to his industry and his Latino community -although, as he tells us in the video below, it was not always his priority.

With a resonant background in Finances, Will has also volunteered in national professional organizations, bringing to them his extraordinary networking abilities and enthusiasm to generate results.

As the Vice President of Prudential’s Annuity Finance Division, a firm he joined in April 2015, William Robalino partnered with management to prepare and communicate results to senior management, supported the review and oversight of Prudential’s captive reinsurer, assisted in the development of the Resolution Plan and other Fed Supervision requests as well as supported other business initiatives including Capital Management and Planning & Analysis. William also served on Prudential’s Hispanic Heritage Network as an Executive Advisor.

William led ALPFA NY chapter as their President from 2011 to 2015.  During his time on the executive board, the chapter grew from 1,200 members to over 3,300 members, tripled the number of corporate partners and professional development programs.

Will Robalino

L to R: Fellow ALPFA professionals Kevin Cifuentes, Josue Nappa, Raquel Polanco, Ray Valet, Juan Cruz, Will Robalino, Jonathan Cifuentes at ALPFA Anaheim Conference 2011.

William is also a member of the MBA CFO Stern NYU recruiting team, the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) and sat on their Corporate Advisory Board.  An active member of Sponsors for Education Opportunity (SEO), he frequently mentors Career Program students during the summer.

William Robalino earned his B.S. in Public Accounting from Pace University in 1993. After graduating from Pace, he started his career at JPMorgan in their Accounting Management Training Program. He remained at JPMorgan until 1996 at which point he joined Lehman Brothers in their Credit Derivatives Product Control Function. A year later, William was given the opportunity to move to Tokyo, Japan; leading the Liquid Market Product Control Functions: Interest Rate Swaps & Options, Japanese Governments & Financing, Foreign Exchange and Futures.

William returned to the United States in 2000. He continued to work at Lehman Brothers and furthered his education by receiving his M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern Business School in 2006, with a concentration in Finance and Management. After 11 years at Lehman Brothers, William joined UBS in 2007 where he supported the Rates and Commodities businesses as their CFO in the Americas, earning his six sigma green belt while leading numerous efficiency projects. In 2013, William was presented with a great opportunity to oversee and help expand the Global Market’s division at BNY as their CFO.

We are excited to have Will as a member of our team and we look forward to great initiatives together! Thanks for giving your time, enthusiam and your expertise to our Latina entrepreneurs, corporate and independent professionals!