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Profile | L. Maria Vergara

Profile | L. Maria Vergara

Hispanic Lifestyle spotlights business professionals in our community.

Name: L. Maria Vergara
Company: Wells Fargo
Title: Senior Vice President, Diverse Segments
Where born: Chicago, Il
Education: Master is in marketing, B.A. in International Business, Certification in D, E & I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion)

How would you quickly describe your job and what you do to someone you just met?
As head of diverse segments, Retail Home Lending at Wells Fargo, I lead a team who believes in advancing homeownership to underserved communities such as low-to-moderate income and minority segments. We do this by being present in the markets we serve, providing education on how to become mortgage ready, partnering with industry trade groups, and developing programs that serve these communities.

How does your prior work experience relate to this position?
I have been in similar roles for most of my professional career. My studies in international business and marketing help frame my approach to this business. My personal experience as a daughter of Mexican immigrants also guides me in how I connect with the underrepresented. My family’s path to homeownership is always front and center in how I help others achieve the American Dream.

Do you serve as a mentor for someone? If so, how do you fill that role?
While I have been part of structured mentoring programs over the years, I have found that the informal ones have been most impactful. Those relationships developed organically when someone approached me for advice and encouragement. I wholeheartedly believe in being an advocate to someone who is not ‘around the table’ or in the room.

Do you have a mentor yourself?
I’ve had multiple mentors throughout my life and still count on a few for advice. I turn to some for career advice and others offer suggestions related to homelife (like how to balance being a working mother). I look for constructive feedback, I want to know what I can do better. I don’t seek people who will always tell me I’m great. I am always in a state of learning and self challenge.

What’s a tip you’ve learned that’s helped you with networking?
Water seeks its own level. Therefore, you have to stretch yourself into seeking opportunities to surround yourself with people that might be at a higher level professionally. Sometimes you may feel like “I don’t belong here” but you need to fight that voice and lean into the opportunities. That is when you learn.

What time-management strategies or lessons-learned do you use to manage your schedule and meet your obligations?
As I get older it becomes more important to prioritize my health (physical and emotional). I always make time for doing things that keep me active and for what I enjoy doing. This keeps me more balanced and refreshed to take on work in a better frame of mind. I block out my calendar for these things and make them as important as business appointments. For me, COVID was a wake-up to keep focused on what’s important.

What charity/foundation/cause do you regularly support or volunteer with?
A past colleague introduced me to an organization that she volunteered with, the Scholarship Foundation of St Louis. My colleague was no longer able to sit on the board, and she reached out to me to see if I’d be interested. It turned out to be an incredible experience and so much more than volunteer opportunity. The organization, founded in 1920, is based on the conviction that the vitality of a democracy is based on the education of its people. They work tirelessly to help underserved, scholastically-competent students reach higher education. They have a passion for immigrant students who often lack the generational knowledge to make informed decisions about college and they offer scholarships and grants to those who want to pursue a higher education but lack the financial resources.

What’s the farthest from Los Angeles you’ve traveled?
One of my passions is travel. I’ve been fortunate to travel to many places and had the privilege of traveling as far as Hong Kong. I enjoy meeting people from diverse backgrounds and cultures and yet I always end up amazed by how many more similarities we share than differences.

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