Gaining New Skills
The Corporate Elite 25 listing is rife with examples of another trait people must have to make it to the C-suite. As Mr. Gallegos explained: "The individual must have a 'can do' attitude, and not shy away from challenging situations that help an individual learn new skills, gain new experiences and be set apart from other employees."
Ramon Baez, vice president of information technology services and chief information officer for Kimberly-Clark, has over the course of his 25-year career, assumed increasing responsibilities for information and data management. His skills and expertise were recognized in 2009 when he was appointed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and confirmed by the state's Senate as director for the state's Department of Information Resources.
In addition to his duties as director of government relations and business development for Raytheon Co., Edward Munoz was appointed to the California Workforce Investment Board by then California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mr. Munoz served from 2009 2011.
Patrick Apodaca, senior vice president and general counsel for PNM Resources, served a stint as associated counsel to the president from 1977-1981 under Jimmy Carter.
Such experience in the public sector can be invaluable for a corporate executive to understand the interactions between the corporate world and the governing world.
Looking for the CEO
Sixteen of the 25 executives on the 2012 Corporate Elite list are employed by Fortune 500 companies. Last year, 17 of the 25 on the list held positions at Fortune 500 companies. But as yet, no Fortune 500 company has a Hispanic CEO.
"I think it is difficult for anyone to be named a CEO of a major publicly traded company," Mr. Gallegos told HispanicBusiness magazine. "I do think for a variety of reasons, including a lack of visible role models, it will be difficult for a Hispanic to be named a CEO of a major publicly traded company, but I hope it will occur in the not-so-distant future."
That could be Brightstar Corp. producing the first Hispanic CEO. It fi led paperwork in April 2011 to go public and its revenues might be enough to help it slip into the top 500 when the IPO occurs. While that would be no small feat, Brightstar is a Hispanic company, started in 1977 by R. Marcelo Claure who continues as its chairman and CEO. The real breakthrough will come when a Hispanic becomes CEO of a non-Hispanic-owned corporation. The boardroom could be the best place to start.
Mr. Gallegos explains: "I also think an increase of Hispanic representation on the boards of publicly traded companies will improve the likelihood for a Hispanic to be named a CEO of a major publicly traded company."
As our annual look at Fortune 500 board of directors shows, Hispanics are making steady but slow progress in populating corporate boardrooms. In 10 years, the number of Hispanics who are directors on Fortune 500 corporate boards has grown from 69 to 92. Together, the 92 hold only 2.1 percent of the estimated 5,463 board seats for Fortune 500 companies.
Up and Coming
On the horizon, the outlook for more Hispanics moving ever higher in the corporate structure is bright. With Hispanics at 16.3 percent of the U.S. population, with their growing influence in the marketplace and with more business professionals emerging, representation of Hispanics at all corporate levels can only increase.
For those emerging professionals or for those Hispanics about to enter college with thoughts of entering the corporate world, Mr. Gallegos offers these tips: "Focus on the tasks that are immediately before you, but ensure that you are developing skills that will help you to be successful in your next position. Have a game plan, determine what is necessary to execute it, and work to achieve it. Don't be deterred by small setbacks. Your career is a journey, and small setbacks (although they can appear devastating in the moment) are really learning experiences that we all have had."
For those just starting out on their career journeys and for those whose journeys are well under way, HispanicBusiness magazine's 2012 Corporate Elite 25 on the following pages can serve as excellent role models. They provide all the proof that's needed that breaking into the corporate offices of America is eminently obtainable.
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