Strategy, Results, Success – Yvonne Garcia
By Gloria Romano-Barrera
Yvonne Garcia relates how her childhood fascination with sales led her to a career in the financial industry.
The talented, dedicated and passionate New Yorker with Dominican and Lebanese roots loved everything about sales from a young age. From book sales in front of her home at the age of seven to role-playing as a bank teller, Garcia knew she had an apt for business.
“Whether it was selling my sister and brother’s belongings or observing bank teller transactions at our local branch, I realized how much I was intrigued by the transaction of currency and exchange of products and services,” she recalls.
From bank teller to Chief of Staff to State Street Chairman and CEO, Ron O’Hanley, Garcia’s ascent is still evident.
In this role, she acts as an adviser and point of triage to O’Hanley and his senior management team for all employee, client, regulatory, and investor-related initiatives. She assesses inquiries directed to the CEO, and provides oversight, management and guidance for each. She also drives strategic executive-level client engagement with clear and targeted messaging. Beyond her responsibilities as Chief of Staff to O’Hanley, she is also the head of employee communications globally, spanning more than 39,000 employees in over 26 countries. She is responsible for driving unified and seamless internal communications of key strategic priorities, and for ensuring the voice of the CEO is clearly communicated and, as appropriate, cascaded to all levels of the organization.
“Ultimately, I am responsible for the strategic execution of the internal and external engagement platform for our Chairman and CEO, Ron O’Hanley, and that every engagement he participates in is streamlined, effective, efficient, and value-added for all involved,” she shares. “With this in mind, and in partnership with him and many other stakeholders, I have made several changes to our approach to his engagement since assuming my role. Two examples come to mind. First, we have launched several new employee engagement series, each hosted by him and segmented by a target audience to allow for more intimate, meaningful interaction. Also, we often experiment with different communications vehicles and platforms in order to ensure that our messages resonate globally with all segments of our employee base.”
In addition, in her role as Chief of Staff to O’Hanley, Garcia thoroughly focuses on understanding the goals and strategic vision set forth by him.
“I study every word he says, including his speeches and other forms of thought leadership he shares in order to gain a keen understanding of his mindset and vision, which in turn allows me to drive true alignment across the enterprise. I have also gained an extraordinary mentor along the way in Ron,” she shares.
With a background in finance, a strong work ethic, and passion, Garcia points out how she along with her team have prepared for the current COVID-19 pandemic. When the crisis hit, one of State Street’s first priorities was to develop policies and procedures to shift operations in a way that would allow most of the company to work from home.
“As a global company, we are accustomed to virtual connections, but have never experienced a 90 percent remote workforce,” she shares. “As such, it became my priority to find ways to keep employees informed and engaged while enabling their ability to remain productive, and more importantly, safe. Beyond the current crisis, leading with empathy and purpose has always been one of my priorities, and this time is no different. As an inclusive leader, I always make a point to collaborate with other leaders across multiple functions, including human resources, real estate, marketing, operations and global security. This level of collaboration enables me to ensure that the appropriate and necessary information is cascaded throughout the organization.”
Another key area of focus for Garcia is to ensure that State Street is representing, embracing, and celebrating employees of all backgrounds.
“I consider myself a constant champion of diversity in the corporate environment and strive to ensure that messages from our CEO are culturally relevant to employees in our organization,” she shares. “I also speak regularly at many community and industry forums calling for and celebrating diversity in the workplace.”
Garcia maintains close ties with other leaders in the Latino community, both locally in Massachusetts and beyond. After close to 20 years volunteering for the Association of Latino Professionals for America, (ALPFA), the largest Latino professional organization in the country, which led to serving as the National Chairwoman, Garcia remains on ALPFA’s national advisory board, and now also chairs The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network, which has provided Garcia an additional platform to lead with purpose and intentionality, including opening doors for other professionals throughout the Latino community. To that effect, she also implemented diversity metrics within the Women’s Advisory Board for the first time in the Chamber’s history.
However, what she is most proud of is having served as the co-founding Chair of Milagros para Niños, an initiative at Children’s Hospital in Boston dedicated to serving the Latino community and helping children of modest means gain access to life-saving medical care. Since its inception, over $14 million has been raised, allowing Garcia to help countless children in the U.S. and abroad.
“It is one of my proudest accomplishments,” she states. “Knowing that our efforts can have such a direct impact on the health and wellness of the children in our community is priceless. When thinking about what really matters, the miracles performed by Milagros para Niños, and first responders everywhere, in my opinion clearly exemplifies true leadership in action.”
But this is not surprising, as she also brings to her career the life values instilled in her by her parents who migrated from the Dominican Republic to New York over 60 years ago. From giving back to reinforcing the importance of a strong work ethic, Garcia believes these values have been the foundation of her journey.
“My mother worked full-time as a medical technologist in a hospital in Harlem for 37 years and my dad was an entrepreneur,” she shares. “Throughout the years, my dad was always steadfast in his support of my mother’s career. Both of their examples of leadership and determination provided me with the foundation I needed to be a confident, independent leader.”
Garcia speaks three languages, is a global leader, sits on numerous Boards across the country, has run nine marathons – and
counting, all while raising two children. And yet, she still feels like she hasn’t even gotten started. “I still feel like I have so much more to accomplish in my life, including one day becoming a CEO myself.”