Diane Garcia belongs to the 1% of Latina executives breaking the glass ceiling. As the Chief People Officer for Congruex, a multi-national digital network engineering and construction provider with 4,800 employees, she is one of the few Latinas serving in a senior or executive leadership role today. With 12.8 million Latinas in the U.S. workforce, there is a critical need to advance and elevate Latina executives like Diane and their important contributions to the future growth and sustainability of the enterprises they lead.
From her new executive office in Boulder, CO, Diane sits down with us to share her C-suite mindset and the visionary and strategic perspective she brings to the decision-making table.
Here is a Latina executive leading.
This interview was edited for clarity and word count.
What does it mean to “be ready” to take the next step in one’s career?
It’s all about connecting with people who have experience in what you want to do. By being around other people who are where you want to be, you start to believe “I can do this.” If I have the experience and the background, the only thing holding me back is me.
And then you gotta go for it, with the attitude – You got this – Just to run towards it.
What’s one way you got in your own way early in your career?
As a Latina growing up, and I laugh at this today, I remember bragging about how I was a chameleon. I could fit into any environment. But, as I got older, I realized I had lost sight of what was really meaningful to me.
Today, I’m much happier when I can actually be open and share who I am versus trying to just assimilate and “be part of the team.” It was a huge eye-opener for me when I realized people actually want and respect you more when you do that versus just trying to appease what they need.
As a leader in the C-suite position, what do you hope to bring to this table? And why do you want to sit at this table?
Congruex is an engineering and construction company designing and building communication networks, both broadband and wireless. What’s so exciting about Congruex is that we are enriching how people live and connect, whether it’s our kids, hospitals, companies, or communities—we all need access to digital communication.
In my current role as Congruex’s Chief People Officer, I come in with a unique perspective in the telecom industry. I look at not just how to get the work done, but how do you get the work done so that our people are engaged, happy, and want to give it their all.
There’s a huge opportunity for us to ask critical questions like:
- How do we be more planful and proactive by forecasting what we need in terms of talent?
- What are the skill sets we need today and how do we start planning for the next three to five years?
- How do we make sure we’ve got the right people in the right roles and they feel empowered to play their position?
One of the biggest values I can add in my type of function is getting employees excited to see how their work is aligned and can positively impact our business results.
What is that thread from early Diane to the Diane that is now taking her place in the C-suite?
I always come from the mindset of: “I want to be part of the solution.” That’s my power. That’s my competence. By keeping this perspective, instead of getting stuck in a powerless position, it drives me to seek different viewpoints to come up with unique ideas on how to solve complex issues.
In your career, you have stepped in and out of the workforce because you decided to prioritize family. Can you share a little bit about why that was important to you?
I had three kids in 18 months (yes, I had twins if you’re doing the math). I’ve taken two breaks as my kids have grown up because that’s what was right for me. It was during those breaks that I finished my MBA, went through the Latino Leadership Institute and served on the advisory board of Mile High United Way. I was probably busier than I ever had been.
I’ve always had this ebb and flow of trying to balance what’s needed for my family and what’s needed for me. It’s very non-traditional in terms of what many executives have done, but it just worked for me because I never lost sight of my personal values and professional goals.
It is hard when you’re going back into the workforce. For me, I was able to do it because the people I’d worked with in the past helped me get back into the workforce.
But when you get back, it’s as if you had never left. I was able to step right back in and if anything, I was more refreshed after having the opportunity to develop myself and really get myself ready for that next role.
In your experience, how do we advance more Latinos into positions of management and leadership?
It goes back to development and access. Programs like the LLI help us as Latino professionals understand our value and show us how to build our confidence to lead in an authentic way.
I also believe anybody who has the drive and openness to learn has the capability of leadership. Many of us have had to overcome many adversities and yet continue to be inspired and motivated by those challenges. As a leader, I would much rather have somebody with those attributes of perseverance because I can teach them the technical pieces of the job.
About Diane Garcia
Diane Garcia is the Chief People Officer at Congruex. With more than 30 years of HR and business experience, Diane is known for her proven ability to lead transformational efforts in fast paced and dynamic environments. She is passionate about creating a culture of performance and aligning people’s objectives to the Company’s business objectives. Most recently Diane served as the Vice President of Human Resources at Crocs. Diane has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Colorado Boulder, and a Masters of Business Administration from Regis University.
Congruex was formed in 2017, with Crestview Partners, to take advantage of historic demand for digital connectivity in the United States. Congruex integrates leading broadband and wireless engineering and construction companies into a single, turn-key platform encompassing program management, engineering, construction, and network continuity services across the United States. For more information, please visit www.congruex.com