As Corporate Counsel for Logistics and Energy at DuPont, a multinational products and services company that reaps annual worldwide sales of $30 billion, Ramona Romero has assumed wide responsibilities.
She joined DuPont in late 1998 and is today responsible for overseeing contracts, joint ventures and acquisitions worth billions of dollars each year in the areas of transportation, distribution, supply chain management and energy resources.
Ms. Romero is one of the 25 women honored this year by HispanicBusiness Magazine, as part of its 7th annual Woman of the Year awards.
So, what's the secret to Ms. Romero's success in what has traditionally been a very tough, competitive and male-dominated corner of the corporate world? Senior colleagues at DuPont offer some clues.
"Ramona is a tough and aggressive lawyer who plays to win," said Gary Spitzer, vice president and general manager, DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise.
"I have seen firsthand the value she brings to the team -- she raises the energy and intensity level of people around her because of her passion, razor-sharp legal mind and 'can-do' common sense attitude."
Assumed Presidency of HNBA
Ms. Romero, 46, was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in New York after her family moved to the U. S. when she was about 11.
Armed with a law degree from Harvard, Ms. Romero plunged straight into the world of corporate law, spending 10 years at the Washington, D. C.-based international firm Crowell & Moring, where she handled complex commercial, fraud, and antitrust litigation.
Last September Ms. Romero also took over the one-year presidency of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), a job even she describes as "a very intensive time commitment."
Ms. Romero estimates she puts in about 40 hours a week on association business -- the equivalent of a full-time job for most people.
"It's a labor of love," said Ms. Romero.
She is one of those rare people who can comfortably get by on about four hours' sleep. Which is just as well since she probably needs the remaining 20 hours a day to pack everything into her busy life.
She has long championed the rights of minorities and women, helping to set up and run several programs at DuPont and now at the bar association, where she launched the Hispanic Appointments Project in October.
Interests of Women Promoted
Ms. Romero has been actively involved in a number of community and professional organizations. She spent six years on the board of the American Red Cross in the Delmarva Peninsula and several years with Delaware Futures, a support program for talented at-risk high school students.
At DuPont, which has products in the industries of agriculture, food, construction, communications and transportation, Ms. Romero has advanced the interests of minorities and women within the legal department and among the company's numerous outside partner law firms and legal support services suppliers.
She has developed diversity programs, promoted the interests of women within the company's legal department and in DuPont's numerous outside partner law firms and legal support services suppliers.
Jeffrey Coe, senior vice president, sourcing and logistics, and chief procurement officer, describes Ms. Romero as a "great listener and quick study" who uses balanced thinking, facts and logic to drive arguments.
"Finally, she is not shy. She stays focused on the task and avoids some of the pitfalls that can entrap any of us by pushing through internal barriers in an effective way."
She has also created networks connecting minority and women attorneys inside and outside the company, organized minority job fairs and mentoring opportunities, and set benchmarks to measure the diversity performance of law firms and legal services providers that DuPont deals with.
"We're pushing Hispanics to have a seat at the policy table," she said.
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