The last week of September brought with it crisp temperatures and Black and Hispanic business hopefuls in freshly-pressed suits, eager to network, become inspired, or re-connect at “Power of Performance: Leadership at The Next Level”. Other than the accomplished professionals who were honored at Prospanica’s Brillante Awards Gala, Galiana was one of the key figures being recognized at the conference as a whole.
“You upgrade your cars, you upgrade your homes… Well, you just got an upgrade!” The crowd inside of the Prospanica workshop on the first floor of The Pennsylvania Conference Center stood up to cheer as former National Chair Anthony Lopez handed over the allegorical baton of leadership to Judith Garcia Galiana.
When Thomas Savino, CEO of Prospanica came to our office at AL DÍA News to converse before the “Power of Performance” conference kicked off, he specifically mentioned that Latinas are moving “it” forward, emphasizing that previous studies from reputable institutions, such as MIT and McKinsey, have highlighted women- and especially minority women -as being the keys to unlocking the greatest potential at a company.
Though not necessarily a Latina, Galiana- a madrileña -has both the aptitude and attitude to take Prospanica to new heights. Her most notable career performance has been serving as the Vice President at 3M in their headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota. Does 3M sound familiar? If you’re a user of Post-its, Scotch Tape products, Nexcare bandages, or (my absolute favorite) Command Strip products, then chances are your sight has taken ahold of the chunky red 3M logo that has, for so long, provided fundamental supplies for offices and classrooms.
It was in 2009, when Galiana was re-located from 3M in Madrid to 3M in St. Paul, that she first became aware of Prospanica during a leadership convention. From there on out, although she had not become an official member or joined one of Prospanica’s various local state chapters across the nation, she had stayed involved with the activities that Prospanica hosted or were a part of. She felt that the mission of Prospanica and its commitment to develop minority professionals was crucial, and so in 2014 when she was called in by the board and offered a position as National Director, she was “excited to accept”.
Now, Galiana is “a little nervous to be [Prospanica’s] incoming chair, logically”, but is happy and content with the plans she has to “revitalize and professionalize” Prospanica, mainly at the chapter level. “Many of [the chapters] are fantastic and do a good job, but some not so much, and we need to work on those chapters a bit so that they can all reach a higher level”. So far, there are twenty-six states with Prospanica chapters, and in Pennsylvania, the sole chapter is based in Philadelphia.
Other than revamping the chapters, Galiana also wishes to “center [herself] on the National Conference to revise the model, by expanding more to make the conferences more local and to attract more talent, so as to get more people to the venue to meet and network with professionals and link-up with other chapter leaders”. The third improvement Galiana hopes to make in her term as Chairwoman of Prospanica is to spread awareness of the company’s core values and aims, through a “vital” marketing campaign, giving a nod to the media outlets who have been gracious enough to extend free publicity through basic news coverage to “pass along the message to everyone”.
When it comes to being a woman in a high-executive position in the United States, Galiana contends that there “isn’t that much of a difference” between Spain and The United States, though she did point-out that The United States has been more “rapid” in their advancement towards equality in the workplace. She says that one of her character strengths, one of the traits that has brought her so far in her career, has been to “forget” that “maybe because I am a woman I have a professional limitation or an obstacle that someone wants to put my way simply because I am a woman”. Her ability to ignore and to drudge through the sexism in order to succeed is- simply put -admirable, given all of the challenges that task entails.
The phrase that Galiana used most throughout our interview was working “elbow to elbow” (or codo a codo in Spanish), which translates better to working “arm in arm”. Her passion for cradling Prospanica’s future through the spirit of collaboration and making use of the company’s human resources is best encompassed by another cliché, “there’s no I in TEAM”.