When my friend Patricia was pregnant with her son, I planned a baby shower in her honor. But when she was admitted to the hospital two weeks early—on the very day of the shower—we decided that the show must go on. So I went in her place and delivered my best Patricia impersonation.
Lora J. Villarreal, Ph.D. believes that if you do right by the people who love you and care for you, then everything else will fall into place. Her grandparents, who raised her, helped to teach her that powerful principle as they instilled within her the core values of integrity, honesty, a strong work ethic, and the importance of following through on promises and commitments. All of those ideas and skills have proven quite useful to her over the years.
Villarreal is now the Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer for Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), where she oversees a department with more than 160 employees. Her responsibilities include strategic oversight of all human resource functions and business operations. She directs the planning, development, implementation, and administration of HR programs and initiatives, for example, and also advises management on HR policies and programs. One of her notable achievements at ACS was that she created and implemented the company’s Workplace Solutions Center—an innovation that paved the way for annual cost savings of $5 million.
Lynn Blodgett, ACS President and CEO, nominated Villarreal for the Eagle Award and praises her work. “She demonstrates a passion for excellence in every aspect of work, achieving the highest level of customer satisfaction and providing a positive work experience for each employee.”
Villarreal is a recipient of many professional honors, including the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation’s National Hispanic Woman of the Year Award, the Ogletree Deakins Human Resources Professional of the Year Award, and the Texas Diversity Council’s Diversity FIRST Award.
Constantly active in charitable and civic affairs, Villarreal is President of the ACS Philanthropic Foundation and serves on the boards of the Texas Diversity Council, the Dallas County Community College District Foundation, and the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Dallas.
For the past two years, Villarreal has also been involved as an international mentee through Fortune Magazine and the U.S. State Department. The program partners young entrepreneurs from other countries with successful female leaders in the USA to teach them hands-on business knowledge that cannot be taught in the classroom.
Villarreal gives a great deal of credit to one of her own helpful mentors, Frank Quevedo, a senior employee who took her under his wing when they worked at Southern California Edison. He gave her challenging projects and responsibilities and provided encouragement for her to pursue her dream of obtaining a college education. “Having someone in my professional life to believe in me, especially early in my career, made all the difference,” Villarreal says.
Villarreal did not have an opportunity to go to college until she went back to school later in life. But then she earned a Bachelor of Science diploma plus Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.
While in college, she was diagnosed with cancer, however, an experience that she says was the biggest battle of her life. She survived, and the struggle taught her the importance of living for today and trying to make a positive contribution and difference each and every day.
CareerFOCUS Magazine and the National Eagle Leadership Institute® salute 2009 Eagle Award winner Lora J. Villarreal, Ph.D.
The Leadership Promise at ACS
ACS is widely recognized for outstanding customer service and quality performance. Our people built this reputation. ACS recognizes the diverse attributes of our global workforce and strives to develop individuals cross culturally – diversity is an inherent aspect of who we are. In short, we work to ensure the success of our future by nurturing tomorrow’s leaders today.
ACS is committed to continued effective performance by making provisions for the development and strategic application of its leaders. We ensure that this process is intrinsic in our global strategic planning. This commitment to develop, recognize, recruit, and retain high performing leaders ensures a lasting talent pool. ACS leaders continually demonstrate what it takes to lead and grow this organization and have a proven record of consistently delivering results. Our environment supports the leadership development process with a clearly defined purpose that embraces continued growth through positive development and focused learning objectives.