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Supervisors often were the greatest influence on CEOs’ careers

CEOs were asked: Who, besides your parents, has been the greatest influence on your professional life, and why?
CEOs were asked: Who, besides your parents, has been the greatest influence on your professional life, and why? Getty Images/iStockphoto

CEOs were asked: Who, besides your parents, has been the greatest influence on your professional life, and why?


There have been two: Orlando Gomez and Al Morrison. The first had a lifetime experience of success and educated me on everything I needed to know to run a business in a prudent, ethical and fiscally responsible way. The latter taught me how to manage people and be compassionate to their needs.

Tony Argiz, chairman, CEO, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC (MBAF)


An early influence when I had just earned my Interior Design degree from Lynn University was Debra J. Stein, of Debra J Interiors. She was a great boss and gave me a wealth of different experiences and opportunities to interact with all facets of the company. Debra’s level headedness, wisdom, wit and love of her profession made me want to work hard but still have a bit of fun doing it. It is the foundation for the many different roles I play on a daily basis. And of course, my husband Brett has been a big influence since we have built The Spice Lab together and balance each other’s strengths.

Jennifer Cramer, CEO, co-founder, The Spice Lab


My greatest professional influence was also my greatest personal influence that molded my character — my great aunt, Sor Isolina Ferré Aguayo. She was a tough and compassionate Catholic nun from the order of Congregation of the Missionary Servants of the Holy Trinity. She was known as the “Mother Teresa of Puerto Rico,” highly recognized throughout her life as a heroine for the most vulnerable. She received many honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism.

Our business culture does not reward the “soft” emotions, such as empathy and compassion. Humility is weakness. We are conditioned into believing that the successful business man or woman must detach him/herself from emotion, “be a shark if you want to get ahead”. But I learned quite the opposite from my great aunt. The perceived “weak” traits of business can be effective and powerful tools in success. So don’t shy away from doing the right thing. The second lesson I learned from my aunt is grit, stand up for your convictions and stick with it. If you are going to follow lesson No. 1, be vulnerable; you better have some thick skin because there are a lot arrows coming your way. Press on.

Maurice R. Ferré, CEO, chairman, INSIGHTEC


The women in my life, especially my grandmothers — who practiced engineering and architecture throughout their lives — have been the greatest influence in my professional life. My admiration for them enabled me to pursue this career and excel as a structural engineer and ultimately become senior principal and managing leader at Stantec. By being transparent, inclusive, fair and always doing what is right, I hope to inspire those around me, including my daughters, to become our future leaders.

Adriana Jaegerman, senior principal, managing leader, Stantec


If I had to pick just one person, it would be Judge Jeffrey Rosinek. Before he practiced law, he was my high school history teacher at Coral Gables High in the late 1970s, as well as the sponsor for the Gables Key Club, for which I was president my senior year. It’s difficult to explain Judge Rosinek’s role during those formative years: Friend, mentor, teacher — always there for me. Judge Rosinek triggered my appreciation for the rule of law, educated me on the responsibilities that come with leadership, and taught me to see the humor and goodness in everyone. My lifelong goal of perpetually cultivating my compassion, which I defined in high school, was primarily the result of witnessing his example.

José E. Latour, founding partner, LatourLaw


One of the great influences in my life was my first supervisor, Juan Francisco Diaz (Neno), who taught me the value of leadership. He was a humble man from a rural town in Cuba. Barely speaking English, he led a division of 120 employees at Church and Tower. He was a commanding and motivational presence in our workforce, and had a unique combination of charm and force with our main customer BellSouth. I’m a firm believer that leadership matters, and how you conduct yourself and communicate with others are your most defining traits.

Jorge Mas, chairman, co-founder, MasTec


Professor Ted Levitt – author of the famous article “Marketing Myopia” - was my advisor at Harvard Business School. His advice: “Only work on important issues that are important to important people.” He rejected my first thesis proposal with the words: “Come back next week with something important.” I did and I graduated.

John Quelch, vice provost, University of Miami Dean, Miami Business School and Leonard M. Miller University Professor


Daniel Pink, the author of bestselling book, “Drive.” For me, that book was a definite turning point in my career as it motivated me to take the first step toward starting a company. Without question, that has been the best decision of my professional career thus far. “Drive” really pushed me to think about what was my purpose as a professional and individual. It made me realize that I had an itch to start something, and specifically in the education industry, about which I was passionate. I think a lot of us get caught up in the day-to-day and don’t take a step back to think about the essential things in our life. For that, I’m indebted to Daniel Pink, whose ideas gave me the courage to start a company and become an entrepreneur.

Ariel Quiñones, co-founder, Ironhack


My husband and business partner has been the greatest influence in my professional life. He encourages me to be my best and is my biggest fan! He challenges me to excel and work outside my comfort zone. No matter how big or small the accomplishment, he is extremely proud to see me succeed.

Kelly Ramsden, managing partner, Office Edge and Legal Edge


The artists I have worked with throughout my career, whose work opens space for challenging, engaging public conversations within museums and galleries, have been my main point of inspiration. As a museum director I serve the public by ensuring that the institution presents thought-provoking work that invites the public in, and that the museum is managed responsibly so that it can continue to offer a safe space for freedom of expression — both on the part of the artists and our public—in perpetuity.

Chana Sheldon, executive director, MOCA






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