Newly appointed Senior Fellow for ICCM is Dr. Adis Vila, JD, MBA. After immigrating to the US from Cuba with her mother at the age of 8, Dr. Vila started working at the age of 13. She held a job throughout high school, college, and law school to support herself and her mother. At the age of 27 she was accepted as a White House Fellow, and has since served in numerous government leadership positions, including former Secretary of Administration at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Secretary of the Department of Administration for the state of Florida, and the First Chief Diversity Officer at the United States Air Force Academy. In addition, Dr. Vila has served as a professor of international business and international law at numerous colleges and universities and as a practicing attorney.
As an ICCM Senior Fellow, Dr. Vila will offer her expertise to mentor the ICCM faculty and staff. She will also aid in securing funds for and connecting colleagues to the Institute, and will serve as a content person for blog posts, articles, and other ICCM media.
To Dr. Vila, a focus on diversity and inclusion is not limited to race and ethnicity but constitutes cross-cultural competency as well. “The young generation of leaders will be working in a global context”, she says, “so we need to bring multidisciplinary perspectives as well as multicultural decision making, leadership, and management skills into the picture”.
Dr. Vila poses the question, “how do we enlist everyone in an organization to embrace differences and be more inclusive?” A focus on the individual’s needs and interests leads directly to employee motivation, engagement, and loyalty. For example, organizations might include mentoring responsibilities for a senior employee to best utilize his or her expertise. By shaping a job to optimally fit an individual employees’ unique situation—and thus actively supporting diversity and inclusion—the organization not only minimizes turnover but advances as a global competitor.
This philosophy is not limited to organizations, either. On a societal level, diversity and inclusion can be embraced starting in kindergarten by accepting different familial structures (such as multigenerational or single parent families). In this way, Dr. Vila states in her Insight article, diversity as a leadership competency can evolve from an “add-on” skill to a core behavior. She also underscores the growing importance of such a competency as the world is quickly shrinking, paving the way for the necessary inclusion of diverse individuals.
“I am delighted to associate with the ICCM, a first rate institution committed to developing in students and professionals alike the skills required to successfully guide organizations in the global marketplace”, she says. Dr. Vila herself has extensive experience with cross cultural work, including a position with Nestle SA at its world headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland, leading US government efforts while at the US Department of State and US Department of Commerce, and as Vice President of two multinational companies. “It was clear to me that an appreciation for others’ national cultures and an understanding of the different organizational cultures is key to getting important work done. Sharing my experiences with those committed to preparing others for a more integrated world is a privilege.”
Dr. Vila’s extensive experience in diversity and global affairs will enrich ICCM’s capabilities to achieve its mission. Faculty and staff are thrilled to work with and learn from Dr. Vila.