Maria Garcia Nielsen is an accomplished international board director, business executive, and advocate for diversity in education and in the workplace. Early in her life, Maria’s mother instilled in her the importance of education. Carrying this principle, Maria earned a scholarship to Cornell before going to Wharton for her MBA. She went on to a stellar career, eventually becoming the CEO of Office Depot in Spain and Portugal. Now in her third act, Maria uses an excel spreadsheet to map out how she divides her time between working on international boards, leading and mentoring women, and giving back the gift of education through her council work at Cornell and Wharton.
On today’s episode, Maria talks about her educational path as an immigrant, leveraging her background in international business, and her exploration of executive networking as she pursued board service.
(3:10) Maria’s eventful childhood in Peru
(5:28) First Act: The path that got Maria to Cornell
(9:43) A job at Y&S Candies inspires Maria to pursue an MBA
(11:43) A summer internship doing Hispanic marketing for General Foods’ Jello brand
(12:49) An exchange program brings Maria to Barcelona
(16:21) Maria reflects on her career at Office Depot
(21:15) Intentional career management and spreadsheeting your time
(26:34) Valuable resources and business development courses
(30:26) Considerations for those interested in an international board
(33:15) Giving back the gift of education
(37:18) Tips on networking and groups to join
Connect with Maria Garcia Nelson on twitter @garcianielsen, or find her on LinkedIn.
To hear about more Third Act stories, subscribe to and follow the Third Act podcast at thirdactpodcast.com. And if you enjoyed listening, leave a review for this podcast here: