Nina Vaca, CEO of the Pinnacle Group, has seen her share of crises since she founded the IT contingent labor solutions firm in 1996. But she said those experiences made her more prepared for when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“They say that in a crisis your true character is revealed,” Vaca told Yahoo Finance Presents: Hispanic Stars, a series celebrating executives and leaders in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.
The COVID-19 pandemic, Vaca said, has brought forth some transformations. The deep dive into technology enabled her workforce to work remotely from one day to the next.
“Some of the decisions and learnings that we had in the past have really been helpful,” said Vaca. Overnight, the company was “able to transform our workforce into utilizing technology and doing it in a virtual way.”
Vaca saw her first computer when she was 15 years old. Today her firm serves Fortune 500 clients from all sectors. In 2018, Women Presidents' Organization named Pinnacle the fastest growing woman-owned/led company.
“Who would have thought that I would be where I am? To be an immigrant to this country, to be raised by an immigrant family, to be the first to get a college education, to be an entrepreneur, and to have the successes and achievements that I had, quite frankly, are unheard of,” said Vaca, who moved to the United States from Ecuador with her family in 1990.
She is a champion for women and Hispanics in the C-Suite, and pioneers efforts to involve minorities in science, technology, engineering and math careers (STEM).
“I'm so grateful that I entered the technology industry 24 years ago. And I had a front row seat to understand the impact and the careers that you can have with a career in STEM,” said Vaca.
“It's not just about STEM. You don't have to be a scientist or a mathematician to be in the technology industry. Every sector today is going digital, has a technology component, and so what we have to do is create awarenesses at a very young age,” she added.
Giving back is a large part of her strategy in life, particularly to close the wealth gap for Hispanics.
“My whole mission in life is to improve lives and to help others follow that path as well,” said Vaca.
“For me, it's not about being a Hispanic. It's about being an American and about if we can help the Hispanic community get more, if we create more wealth in this thriving, young community, then we create a better America,” she said.
“I've made that my personal passion to change the perspective of Hispanics in America, to help this community grow and prosper, to lead in a way that inspires people to get involved in business and in technology. That's my personal passion and something that I'll do until my last living breath,” she added.
Ines covers the U.S. stock market. Follow her on Twitter at @ines_ferre