I first contacted Yvonne Garcia to write her profile in 2007 as the Experto de Hispanos for About.com, . She impressed me with her assertiveness and dedication to her career, which has grown and blossomed into national exposure. Yvonne is the National Chairwoman for the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA), a 48,000-member organization that thrives to empower and develop Latino men and women as leaders of character for the nation in every sector of the global economy.
This year, over 3000 ALPFA members gathered in the Big Apple to advance the role of Latinos not only in the national stage but also in the world markets. “We had a record-breaking convention this year in New York,” she shared with LIBizus. “Not only has it been the largest convention ever but the one with the most memorable highlights,” she affirmed.
Among the memorable programs was the Women of ALPFA Day, which featured an invitation-only breakfast with guest speakers discussing the global gender gap; panel discussions and workshops focused on soft skill development for Latina leaders; and the Women of ALPFA Luncheon where the accomplishments of Latinas were highlighted and celebrated.
“Our honoree this year for the Latina Excellence Award was Nina Vacca, Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Technical Resources, and Chair Emeritus of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,” Yvonne said. “She talked about her journey to over 2000 attendees during the Women of ALPFA Luncheon,” she said.
According to the ALPFA National Chairwoman, Latinas in corporate are making headways and preparing for landing leadership roles. Knowing the personal sacrifices Yvonne made to build her professional career, a topic of our first conversation back in 2007, I was curious to know if the path has become somewhat easier for the upcoming Hispanic women eager to climb the corporate ladder.
“If anything, I believe it is harder now,” she said. “Although we are more aware of the importance of supporting Latinas to ensure more diversity in the workplace, they are now demanded to make even more sacrifices, working longer hours not only in their day jobs but also contributing to professional organizations,” she said.
ALPFA is committed to lead the support for Latinas through a more concerted effort in finding the right mentors to help those in the pipelines. “This is the commitment we ask from top corporate management; there must be a mandate from CEOs to mentor and train our women in order to build not only technical skills but also to develop leadership strength and charisma,” she added.
At her day job, Garcia, presently the Senior Vice President and Global Head of Client Solutions and PMO of the Investment Manager Services group for State Street Corporation, has global responsibility for developing new client relationships, deploying cutting-edge technology and operational processes, and delivering complex consulting engagements for existing and potential State Street clients.
She was born in Queens, New York, from the marriage of a Lebanese mother and a Dominican father, who came from the Dominican Republic in 1961. Yvonne had diverse experiences growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood but spending the summer months at her father’s country of origin. She learned Spanish as her first language.
Since she was a child, she was interested in the concept of money. At age six she organized a book sale in front of her house. She played with stamps making believe the papers she stamped were bank transactions. Always a saver, even when her brothers asked her to borrow money she would charge them interest.
Yvonne graduated with an MBA from Boston University in finance and marketing and a BA from the Sorbonne in Paris, France, where she lived while studying its economy and culture.
Beginning at the very bottom in sales in 1995, answering calls from customers in Spanish for a small community bank, she was promoted to the department of international staff given her fluency in English and French.
She then moved on to Merrill Lynch as a Financial Adviser and decided to continue her studies obtaining a master’s degree in business administration from Boston University, focusing her career in Finance and Marketing. By that time, she had also started a family and had a small baby. Yvonne found a new passion in marketing that, despite being also demanding, allowed her to manage her time in a more flexible manner.
Yvonne was appointed as Vice President of strategic assistance of the Construction Bank of China in America. In this role, Yvonne and her team were responsible for the creation and implementation of sales processes and service within the bank’s capitalization centers, which included implementation of roles, responsibilities, and tools for the sales force and the management team.
In the midst of her travels to China, Yvonne also spent more than seven weeks in North Carolina, where she acquired her certifications as Six Sigma Green and Black Belts.
She recalls China as the largest professional sacrifice because she had to leave her son to travel to China for three weeks in a row, but was also her greatest professional achievement.
She was then offered a position at Liberty Mutual as the VP and Director of Marketing to consumer market segments. In this role, Yvonne was responsible for the creation and implementation of integrated marketing strategies that resulted in the penetration of selected consumption targets throughout the country.
“I found this role through my network of ALPFA, which opened the doors for this opportunity,” she recalls. ALPFA’s is committed to grow aggressively to 100,000 members within the next two years. Anybody who is seriously devoted to their professional career must consider joining this national organization,” she added.
And she concluded, “Moreover, as the ALPFA Chairwoman in this year’s convention, all the sacrifices I made were well-rewarded when I saw the happy faces of over 40 students who received scholarships in recognition and celebration of their academic achievement and demonstrated leadership skills. We witnessed the talent of Latino students from across the country; they work hard through the year to deserve such important recognition.”