Judith Garcia Galiana, Vice President, Global Service Centers, 3M and National Board Chair for Prospanica
A Road of Opportunities
By Gloria Romano-Barrera
A 30-plus year veteran in diverse businesses and international markets, Judith GarciaGaliana’s career began as a process engineer at 3M’s Rivas manufacturing plant in Madrid, Spain. She then moved to roles with increasing responsibility in technical support, sales, and marketing. In 1997, she became the first woman to serve in the Operating Committee for 3M Iberia. Today, the energetic and dedicated Latina serves as 3M’s Vice President for Global Service Centers, and National Board Chair for Prospanica, the largest U.S. association for Hispanic professionals.
“I never thought I was going to be a vice president and traveling the world,” she shares. “I knew that I wanted the experience of living abroad and work with people of diverse nationalities. I always wanted to have an international scope in my job. That has been a dream of mine.”
Born in Madrid to a professional violinist and an engineer, she recalls how her mother traveled a lot as she played for the national orchestra. For Garcia Galiana, traveling across the world and working with other cultures became a reality.
As Vice President at 3M, she supports the company and its 100+ subsidiaries worldwide by providing all services, from Finance to Sourcing, HR, IT, Taxes or Customer Service.
While she managed to grow and excel as an engineer, Garcia Galiana’s defining moment that changed her career trajectory happened early on when she visited customers that were utilizing the products the company she worked for carried on. It was then when she decided to move on to the business side. Years later, she added to her academic background an MBA, which led to opportunities that propelled her career in business.
Today, she holds an MBA from the IESE – Universidad de Navarra and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the ETSIIM – Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain. In addition to her native Spanish language, she is fluent in English and French.
Other leadership positions she has held include Managing Director for 3M Turkey, Six Sigma Director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa; Global Vice President for the Home Care (Scotch-Brite) Division, Vice President for Change Management.
Garcia Galiana’s road to success in the United States has been a challenging one as she had to adapt to different views and cultures, especially that of being Latina.
“It was when I came to the U.S. when I realized and saw how many wonderful professional Hispanics there were, but I witnessed there was this kind of barrier for them to go to the top,” she states. “I’ve witnessed that many times. Then I said, ‘well I am a Latina, so what can I do about it’”. Garcia Galiana hopes that by being an example and a role model in a male-dominated world, she is making a difference. “I am a Latina and I am a woman,” she states. “Make the best out of it, and be part of the community, but never hide your attributes. I can be a role model just by being who I am. Since I started my career an even while studying, I’ve been a woman in a man’s world, and a young person. I’ve witnessed some behaviors, attitudes and some comments since the very beginning. It was a conscious decision that I was not going to pay attention to it. You are who you are, don’t worry about the comments.”
Focused on working hard and delivering results, she achieves her target by working collectively with her team. Passionate for her work, she believes it is her responsibility to walk the talk.
“I like what I do, but I have to be engaged and include my team in all I do,” she states. Eager to connect, get involved, and give back to causes she is passionate about, Garcia Galiana is also impacting the community by leveraging Prospanica’s vision and mission. “Be the leading catalyst for Hispanic professional achievement” and “To empower and enable Hispanic professionals to achieve their full educational, economic, and social potential.”
“It’s been 30 years since we started and we have a clear mission,” she shares about Prospanica and her role as National Board Chair. “I am very proud of Prospanica and all that we are doing. We have a very clear focus in mind to help the Hispanic professionals achieve their full potential. I have been very fortunate and I am very grateful for all the opportunities that I’ve been given.”
From scholarships to hosting conferences, summits, educational programs and University chapters such as the most newest program at the University of Denver, the Prospanica Board Leadership Program, a program for professionals to learn about becoming a board member, Garcia Galiana is proud to be a part of Prospanica.
Her success and leadership has been widely recognized by her peers and community as she devotes her time and passion to give back.
“Judith is an accomplished global leader and is one of the most humble leaders I know,” says Thomas Savino, president of Prospanica. “Judith brings powerful global senior executive experience and problem solving to the board. A resident in the U.S. for 10 years, she brings fresh thinking to the challenges we face in accomplishing our mission. Her values of transparency and integrity have had an influential impact on our leaders and partners. A servant leader, who regularly travels to Europe, Asia, and Central America, Judith has dedicated countless hours to the organization”
In addition to Prospanica, she also takes time to volunteer for causes that matter to her. She is the Executive Sponsor for the Latino Resource Network at 3M, which includes 400+ employees of Hispanic/Latino origin and serves on the Board of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Her advice is to take risks and to never be afraid of taking challenges. “ Why not take the risk and do something different,” she shares. “If I don’t like it I can always go back and do the previous. I have been in the backline and I always learn something. You go and make an impact. Continue to expand and show that everything is possible. Sometimes we put the barriers on ourselves a little bit. We have to break that.”