Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer
Who is/was your most influential leadership mentor and why? One of my first managers. A demanding leader, she has an amazing ability to motivate and lead people toward her vision, always encouraging people to be their very best. She has a unique ability of making each team member feel vital to the success of the entire team, while giving everyone opportunities for advancement.
Who in your family had the most impact on your success? My grandmother. She was a very warm and caring person with a strong presence. Her high expectations and love were equally valuable and both added to my life and success. She always encouraged me to shoot for the moon, but made it clear that reaching the clouds was okay, as long as I always did my best.
What is your definition of leadership? The ability to influence and engage others to get things done. Motivating and instilling in people the desire to follow and support a vision. It’s playing multiple positions as needed, with the ability to leverage the strengths of the team to maximize its full potential.
What is your most rewarding career accomplishment? Early in my career I wanted to leave accounting and enter marketing, but I didn’t know anything about marketing. I was not prepared for the journey. Eventually, I was given the opportunity to enter the field and learn the required skills. I knew I had accomplished my goal when people started telling me how good a marketer I had become. That meant a lot, because I went from not knowing to knowing; from knowing to leading.
What was the defining moment in your life in which you understood your leadership? The day my son was diagnosed with Autism. It was on this day that I learned what it was to lead a team of professionals and to act as an advocate. My son’s life and well-being were in my hands and I was responsible for leading the team to a solution around his educational needs. After a great deal of research and negotiation I was able to leverage the resources and gain consensus around a schooling placement.
If given the chance, would you do anything differently? I would have started off focused on others and not myself. I could have been a more successful leader sooner had I learned earlier in my career to put the needs of others first.
Headquarters: New York City
Web site: www.axa-equitable.com
Primary Business: Life insurance, annuities and investment products and services
Employees: More than 11,000 employees and sales personnel