Tell us about your upbringing, education, family background--some experiences of you as a youth, your dreams and wishes growing up.
I grew up in the nation's poorest congressional district; where heat and hot water and pretty clothes and new shoes were a distant dream. My father was a minister and my mother a social worker and nothing was more important in our family than a great education and making a difference for others.
My journey from the barrio to the boardroom became possible because so many others invested in me. Highly committed teachers helped me survive a tough inner city high school with 4,000 students where security officers wore riot gear and tattered and decade old books were shared by two or three students. Through the activism and benevolence of people whose names I will never know, I attended Wellesley College, at age 16, on a full scholarship. There I got exposed to a future I couldn't even begin to imagine for myself and it changed the trajectory of my life.
How and why did you get to work in PepsiCo? Could you share some stories of your career there and some previous positions you held?
More than ten years ago when Latino Leaders first interviewed me, I was living the entrepreneur's dream, running the international merchandising company I founded; designing, negotiating and closing multi-million dollar deals with some of the smartest buyers in the world including Walmart, Costco and Disney. As one of the few Latina CEO's in this arena, I soon became tapped by my customers to help them navigate and harness the opportunity of an explosive Hispanic demographic shift.
Those experiences served as a springboard for me to begin to work closely with C-suite executives of Fortune 500 companies in how to engage diverse workforces to support their business strategies.
PepsiCo was one of the early companies I advised at that time. For 12 years, I served as a member of its Ethnic Advisory Board. One of the accomplishments I'm most proud of from that time, especially given my entrepreneurial roots, is having played a critical role in expanding a platform that helped PepsiCo elevate its prominence not only as one of the most diverse companies, but also as a company that creates opportunities for minority-and women-owned businesses through an annual spend that has come to exceed $1 billion.
When I joined the PepsiCo family in 2014,1 did so because of PepsiCo's extraordinary commitment and legacy in bringing...