Executive Speaker Series Highlights Diversity and Inclusion
Vanessa Nazario, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, shared her career and educational journey during the latest engagement of the Berkeley College M.B.A. Executive Speaker Series, held on July 10, 2018, at the Berkeley College School of Graduate Studies in Woodland Park, NJ.
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and raised in Trenton, NJ, Ms. Nazario has been a leader in community development for more than 20 years. She began her career at MECHA, a Hispanic-based nonprofit organization providing home ownership training to families, followed by two decades in various community development roles at PNC Bank. In 2017, she transitioned into her current role with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ.
Ms. Nazario discussed her work to build a “culture of inclusion” for patients and staff through education, policies and procedures at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and offered the following advice to the students pursuing Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) in Management degrees at Berkeley College:
- Say yes. “Always be open to saying yes to an opportunity, even if you don’t have all the answers” and don’t give in to fear, Ms. Nazario said.
- Be the CEO of your career. “What are you doing to manage yourself – to be able to put yourself in places and spaces to get to that next opportunity?” she asked.
- Build your cabinet. “Have a tremendous network of people,” Ms. Nazario said. “I can’t say I got here without the help of people I’ve leaned on.” Your network should be experts in different fields whom you can confide in, and those who push you out of safe spaces.
- Education is important. “Whatever knowledge I acquire, I like to share it and put it forth in the world,” said Ms. Nazario, who holds several Master’s degrees and certificates, and is pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration. Though balancing education with a career is difficult, she said with an M.B.A., students can feel “ready to tackle the world.”
- Be authentic. Ms. Nazario said being a genuine and sincere person has taken her far. Use LinkedIn to make meaningful contacts, not only to build your numbers, she said.
- Be flexible. “When you’re in a leadership role, one of the best attributes is to be flexible and to pivot when you need to,” she said. Be fluid, listen to your team, and change your approach when you’re not headed in the right direction. “You can’t be rigid and say ‘my way or the highway’ because that won’t get you too far,” she added.
- EQ is as important as IQ. “IQ is great, but you need emotional intelligence and soft skills – that ability to connect with people, that self-awareness,” Ms. Nazario said. She encouraged the students to practice and hone these skills.
- Organizations must change to survive. With emerging technology and new challenges on the diversity and inclusion front, companies must adapt to best serve their customers and clients. “If you’re not doing it, someone up the street will be,” Ms. Nazario said.
Mary Wagner, Ph.D., Interim Dean, Berkeley College School of Graduate Studies, said conversations with industry professionals like Ms. Nazario expose students to valuable real-world practices. “Ms. Nazario emphasized the importance of creating and maintaining diverse networks and the ways these networks can lead to career opportunities and advancement,” Dr. Wagner said.
Denise Perez, a Berkeley College student in the M.B.A. in Management program, said the lessons she learned from Ms. Nazario have already had an impact on her career.
“Don’t be afraid of saying ‘yes’ to an opportunity, even when you think it is beyond your ability,” said Ms. Perez, a Sales Coordinator at Johnson Controls, Inc., in Manhattan, NY. “Saying ‘yes’ opens new ventures and helps you discover your potential.”
Previous speakers in the M.B.A. Executive Speaker Series have included representatives from Ernst & Young, ADP and Brightpoint Health.