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Diversity and Inclusion as a Competitive Advantage

By Yanela Frias,
Senior Vice President and Head of Investment & Pension Solutions, Prudential Financial, Inc.

On March 31, 1997, as I was sitting in Prudential’s new hire orientation session in Newark, N.J., I was excited about starting a new chapter in my young career. After three years in public accounting, I had decided to join Prudential. Little did I know that on that day, I was starting a relationship that would last 20 years (and still going) and be such a rewarding and enriching experience.

I joined the company at a time when it was going through tremendous change. During the past 20 years, Prudential became a publicly traded company, materially changed its business mix and reshaped its strategy. Today, through its focus on financial protection, retirement and asset management, Prudential helps individual and institutional customers achieve their financial goals. During those same 20 years, I have grown from an entry level accounting associate to running the Investment & Pension Solutions business with $230 billion in assets under management. (Assets under management as of June 30, 2017.)

A key contributor to my success at Prudential has been my work ethic and dedication, traits I learned from my Cuban immigrant parents. I saw my parents come to this country in search of a better life for themselves and for their daughters. I quickly realized that anything was possible in this country, if you work hard and persevere. Throughout my career, I have worked hard, taken intelligent risks, and have been on a journey of continued growth and learning.

Prudential has contributed greatly to my success as well. The company’s focus on talent and diversity, along with its culture of collaboration and teamwork have provided an environment where I have been able to grow and thrive. Every day, I have the opportunity to work with the brightest people in the industry as we work towards the common goal of helping our customers meet their financial needs. The company’s diverse business mix, focus on mobility, and willingness to take risks on talent have also helped me grow tremendously. Prudential deeply believes that talent is a strategic differentiator. During my twenty years, I have worked in a number of corporate areas and in three business lines. Every time I have been ready for a new challenge, I have been able to move into a new role with increasing responsibilities.

But what has been most impactful is the personal and customized approach that the company has taken to my professional development. Through mentors, sponsors, participation in development programs and active career discussions with senior leaders, my career path has been accelerated greatly. For this, I am eternally grateful.

Today I am proud to be Prudential’s most senior Latina. I focus on giving back to the Latinas and women coming into the workplace. I spend a great amount of time mentoring others and helping them establish development and career plans that will help them live up to their fullest potential. I never set out to be a role model, but I realize that my experiences and my visibility within the organization position me well to help others. As a mother of two young girls, I am proud that they have someone they can look up to and learn from every day. As for that relationship that started twenty years ago in a training room in Newark, I am excited about what the future holds, for both Prudential and for me!