As a teenager, Yvonne Garcia wanted to be trilingual. “That’s why I took languages at the University at Albany,” says the senior vice president and global head of Client Solutions, Investment Manager Services Group at State Street Corporation in Boston.
At Albany, where she majored in Spanish and minored in French, Garcia found “a very diverse group of students.” The Queens, N.Y., native adds, “That’s really what, in my mind, is required to be successful – to surround yourself with people from all different backgrounds, skill sets, and interests.” Her roommates on both the uptown campus and Alumni Quad included an education major, a theatre major, and other students whose academic pursuits differed from her own. “It was really nice to be surrounded by them.”
Garcia’s facility with languages, and her experience living with people of other backgrounds, expanded her post-graduate options. She earned an M.B.A. in finance and marketing at Boston University. Later, Garcia was Liberty Mutual’s Agency Corporation director of Marketing and Distribution Strategy, then vice president of Bank of America’s China Construction Bank Strategic Assistance. In the latter capacity, her work took her to China, Hong Kong, London, and Paris.
At State Street, Garcia still travels “a lot” since “my team is global.” She notes: “My group works with asset managers, asset owners, and insurance companies, helping them define their future state-operating model to enable them to innovate and transform. We help them make the right investment decisions and manage data more effectively.”
A Six Sigma Black Belt – a certification awarded by ASQ to people committed to corporate, organizational, and community quality – Garcia is also a busy volunteer. She serves as national chairwoman of ALPFA (the Association of Latino Professionals for America), an organization she joined around 2001. “We work with Latino professionals and students, helping guide them through their academic and professional journey. We also partner with Fortune 1000 companies, helping them to acquire and retain diverse talent and to develop that talent professionally,” explains Garcia, adding that ALPFA has 83,000 members, 41 professional chapters, and 155 student chapters in the United States.
In her work with young people, Garcia emphasizes the importance of education and its “strong correlation to power and freedom.” She says: “I always encourage individuals to go to school. You can be very smart, but if you don’t have the diploma to show, it can be challenging and limiting.”
One thing Garcia tries to impress upon students and young professionals is that they must “really understand the value you bring to who you are. At a very young age, you should know your worth, but also have the courage to act on it.”
Garcia also volunteers with a number of other organizations, including Milagros para Niños (Miracles for Children), a group she co-founded at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2009 to raise funds to support the medical needs of underserved Latino children. ALPFA and The Children’s Trust, a non-profit formed to end child abuse in Massachusetts, have honored Garcia for her commitment to children, the Latino community, and women. In 2015, she received the Women of Influence Award from the Boston Business Journal.
Her high-profile work with ALPFA and State Street Corporation casts Garcia as a role model. At the University at Albany, she looked up to Johnny Webster, then a faculty member in the former Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies. “He was my Spanish professor, and he also mentored me. He guided me through the M.B.A. application process,” Garcia recalls.
Garcia is the mom of a 16-year-old daughter, Izzy, “who’s looking at colleges now,” and a 10-year-old son, Max. “He’s my baby,” she says.