Latina IBM exec Maria Hernandez, one of 12 recipients of this year’s Hispanic Women of Distinction in South Florida award, offers advice to other Hispanic women
When Maria Hernandez took an internship at IBM during her junior year in college, she probably never expected that she would climb up the corporate ladder so quickly or so high. But thats in fact what happened, as she moved from Systems Programmer to IBMs Chief Innovation Officer – Latin America. She was the first Latina to have been elevated to this position.
But this transition from keyboard jockey to front-line executive has a back story. When she was nine years old, her family moved from Cuba to Spain. After three years, they then settled in New York, where she eventually gained a degree in Management Information Systemsher calling card for that career-building IBM internship. And for the past nine years, shes lived in Florida.
For many, she now represents the quintessential American dream: an immigrant who studied and worked hard to earn her bona fides. After all, she says, I didnt become an executive when I first started out as an intern or when I was hired into IBM. It took hard work, perseverance, access to opportunities and the support of my mentors to get to where I am today.
Despite this humble statement, shes now being recognized for her many achievements, being one of 12 recipients of this year’s Hispanic Women of Distinction in South Florida award. She will officially be honored for her hard-earned worth on Friday, August 15, at the Signature Grand in Davie, Florida, an event thats sponsored by Latina Style National Magazine and Bank of America.
More than 60 nominations were submitted, and Maria was unanimously selected by four judges based on her application. The judges dont even know each other, so it is truly based on the recipients service and their ability to continue their heritage and traditions, says Elaine Vasquez, president of We Do Events, the events producer wife of the awards founder, the late Dr. Erwin Vasquez.