How She Does It: Patricia Mota, President & CEO of The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement

Patricia Mota of HACE
Patricia Mota, President & CEO, of,The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE).

Patricia is a passionate, innovative trailblazer, dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of Latinos across various stages in their education and career. 

With over 10 years of demonstrated success in leading this personal mission via building effective programs and strategic partnerships, Patricia works to strengthen and expand the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement’s (HACE) mission, brand, and impact across the country. 

Patricia serves as the President & CEO for the HACE, leading strategy, fundraising & development, professional and student leadership programs, and expanding organizational reach on a national scale. Patricia strives to engage experienced professionals as mentors and advisors to create a multi-generational network to support Latinos’ career growth around the country.

About HACE

The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE) is a national nonprofit dedicated to the employment, development, and advancement of Latino professionals. HACE is committed to helping Latinos succeed in every phase of their careers. For HACE members, achieving an entry level position is the starting point, not the goal.

HACE logo

Deb Bailey: Welcome to the Secrets of Success blog, Patricia. How did you get started as an entrepreneur?

Patricia Mota: Great to be here, Deb. As a Mexican American woman, I’ve observed and experienced education and career-opportunity gaps firsthand throughout my life. These experiences have always been shocking and eye-opening to me, but I came to understand how common they are and how widely they affect the Latino community. I realized that, unfortunately, these experiences were not unique to me. I decided to dedicate my career to the advancement and empowerment of Latinos, and that’s how I landed at HACE. 

First, I served as director of membership outreach, then as senior director of strategic initiatives, and I now serve as president and CEO, a role I earned after leading significant growth for HACE’s partnerships and programming, as well as truly understanding the challenges and goals of the organization. I’m honored today to be in a leadership role at such an incredible organization that I hope will influence and champion Latino professionals across the country.

Deb: What have been some of your successes and challenges?

Patricia: At HACE, I’m extremely proud of how much the organization has grown. In my time here, I’ve helped to bring in more than $1.5 million in new partnerships, increased memberships by 67 percent, expanded our El Futuro High School Program and more, contributing to positive impact on over 25,000 students and professionals. 

I also launched the Mujeres de HACE women’s leadership program which has empowered more than 800 women nationally to grow professionally, break down barriers and succeed. Now in its 10th year, Mujeres de HACE is expanding to San Francisco and Atlanta for the first time. I know our partnerships with corporations across the country – including AT&T, JLL, ConocoPhillips, Nielsen, NBCUniversal, American Express and others – are making a real impact on people’s careers. 

However, we are still challenged with persistent biases in the workplace that limit Latino advancement, and there are not nearly enough Latino professionals in leadership roles. We are on our way to changing that, but we’re not there yet. 

Deb: What inspires you to do the work you do?

Patricia: The smart, talented and visionary Latinos I encounter every day are the people who inspire me to do this work. There are many obstacles in the workplace that keep people from being their full authentic selves, which is not only limiting for Latino people, but it can squash the potential for brilliant, authentic ideas as well. With HACE, I’m committed to changing that culture so that Latinos have the confidence and the tools they need to rise to the top and enact positive change on others.

Deb: What’s your vision for HACE?

Patricia: My vision is for HACE is to play a leading role in inspiring and enabling Latino success in the workplace. That means encouraging employers of all sizes and in all industries to build an intentional, organizational commitment to fostering Latino success at all levels. HACE believes management teams must dedicate themselves wholly to a diversity and inclusion ethos, not simply check a box. 

We’ve made great progress so far, but we’ve still got plenty of work to do to ensure Latino people are achieving their full potential. And this goal isn’t one-sided – it benefits companies, too. Meaningful, sustainable D&I efforts have been proven to bolster corporate performance and the bottom line.

Patricia Mota of HACE

Deb: Correct. It's a win for everyone. So, when it comes to small business, what advice would you give to women entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

Patricia: I would tell young women who are early on in their career that, unfortunately, there are still hurdles they will have to overcome because they are female. There are moments I remember when I was passed up for a promotion or overlooked for an opportunity because I didn’t look or act a certain way. Sometimes, we just have to work harder. 

As a woman, you are held to higher standards, but you hold a set of incredibly important perspectives, and those voices and ideas are becoming increasingly more valued in the workplace. As they should be. Today, more and more companies and leaders know that diverse ideas lead to new ways of thinking, more informed decision-making and better business results. Businesses can no longer ignore those perspectives, so make sure your voice is heard.

Deb: What do you think are the top 3 traits an entrepreneur must have?

Patricia: I think the most important is to be yourself. For people with diverse backgrounds, there has historically been pressure to blend in and hide what makes you unique. However, it’s critical to bring your authentic self to work every day. I think the most successful people feel comfortable in their skin – they don’t need to spend time and energy hiding who they are. Instead, they can focus on their own development and success. 

The second trait is empathy, or a willingness to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. No two people see a challenge or a problem the same way. Often the best way to succeed and solve problems is to work with other people with different perspectives. 

Finally, don’t be too humble. Humility is important. But among Latino professionals, our culture has instilled in many of us the tendency to be too respectful and polite, sometimes in a way that can make us less assertive and less likely to stand up for our ideas. I encourage all entrepreneurs to be proud of your work and stand up for what you believe.

Deb: Terrific advice. Thanks for joining me today, Patricia. But before you go, please share, what you wish you could tell your younger self?

Patricia: In my role at HACE, I’ve witnessed the value of strong mentors in the development of young people. I’ve had many important mentors throughout my life who have positively impacted me in ways I didn’t even realize at the time. I would tell my younger self to always be cultivating those critical relationships, as I tell other young professionals today. In my role now, I strive to be that mentor for others. 

I’d also tell myself that progress and change haven’t happened as quickly as I would have hoped. Inclusion and diversity aren’t where they need to be. There are barriers in the workplace today that should be long gone – because of this, I’d tell my younger self to keep working hard toward these goals, and to be resilient in the face of adversity and obstacles.

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