A handsome man who vaguely resembles one of his heroes, Teddy Roosevelt, James R. Huerta is an inspiring business leader.
With a varied and exceptional career trajectory, he also brings his talents to bear on helping the Hispanic community through his work on the national board of Prospanica. LBT is delighted to spotlight this Cuban American.
What is your background? Where were you born/raised?
I am of Cuban descent and born and raised in New York.
What were the significant experiences/events that shaped your young life?
As a child living in Astoria, Queens, most of my time when not in school was spent playing sports. Fortunately, my friends and I lived next door to a school yard which provided a place to play all sports, from stick ball, to touch football, basketball, and softball, among many others. As a youngster, sports taught me the power and feeling of being a part of a successful team – there were lessons learned during this period that did not become obvious until I became an adult.
Were you bookish? Sporty?
Even though English was my second language, I always liked learning, but playing sports was always the underlining desire. I guess you can say I was a bookish jock.
Can you tell us about your experiences as an immigrant?
My father came to the US as a young man, leaving his childhood sweetheart, my mother, in Cuba,. Once here, WWII started. He had a choice to return to Cuba or serve in the US Army – he chose the latter. He was a decorated WWII veteran. Our family was very Cuban and retained our culture so although I was born in the US I was in a household of immigrants.
What was your education trajectory? What did you study?
My education followed my interests, and those were to make money, understand how companies achieve greatness, and how I could join a team like that. My undergrad studies were focused on finance and my graduate work was in management.
What has your career path been? What jobs have you had?
Based on my academic preparedness I have been extremely fortunate that what I bring to the table is professionally industry agnostic. Because of my interest in how companies succeed and how to build winning teams, with some hard work I have accomplished many things, reaching levels that have taught me much about business. I have held senior positions in many industries – mining, entertainment, commodity trading, trade finance, etc. I have run departments for Fortune 100 companies and international banks as well as running successful smaller companies.
Tell us about your business.
I currently have two main businesses. I am the managing partner to The Nessa Group – a consulting company celebrating its 11th anniversary and I run and have an equity share of a safety company out of South Dakota, VSA Plug Saver. For the last four and half years, I have been a Commissioner of Economic Development for the City of Stamford, CT. In addition, I hold numerous positions on an engagement term with Nessa clients. The Nessa Group is a full-service consulting firm, meaning we operate as a firm that brings to the table knowledge of all disciplines needed to run a successful company. Our key mission is to bring our clients to an understanding of the importance of Interdisciplinary Communication.
Tell us about your work with Prospanica.
My involvement with Prospanica formerly known as National Society of Hispanic MBA (NSHMBA) started in 2000. I was going through a personal loss and needed an outlet to channel my attention. A close friend had been after me to help the Hispanic Community – he wanted me to get involved and recommended that I find an organization that could benefit from my skills and where I could learn more about my culture. I contacted NSHMBA and it all fell into place – I could do something for my Hispanic community while exercising the training that I have learned and practiced over several decades. I have been a member ever since, serving as a chapter president NYC and consultant with the National organization, was the business development individual for a magazine that we launched, and currently I sit on the National Board of Prospanica.
What are your hopes for the Hispanic community?
My aspiration for the Hispanic community is that we continue to be there for our young and future leaders. Our community is growing at rates that will truly define our importance to our country. We Hispanics come from many cultures, but we do have commonality in areas that will be the foundation for taking our rightful place in America.
What inspires you in general?
Successful achievements by people who see a need and are willing to make the sacrifices to make it happen.
What is a favorite author or creative person whose work brings you joy?
This is a hard question to answer, I really can’t say that I have a favorite. There are many who I relate to, whether fictional, non-fictional, business and/or government. I am inspired by subject matter – for instances I have read many, many versions of The Art of War and I am a Teddy Roosevelt admirer. I guess I would have to say that if the author or creative person identifies an understanding of leadership and commitment, I will read what they have to offer.
Do you have a favorite quote that you use for inspiration or motivation?
As I stated above, I am a Teddy Roosevelt admirer (an understatement) – I will read anything that he wrote and anything written about him – so I love two quotes among many from TR:
“The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he/she shall be able and willing to pull his/her own weight”.
“Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort”.