Cuban-born immigrant Geisha Williams is on the list of top CEOs after breaking norms and will be the CEO of PG&E.
In the latest episode of CNN’s Boss Files with Poppy Harlow, Williams shares her experience on what transformed her modest career. This happened when her mentor at her first energy job told her: “Geisha, somebody has to run this company some day. Why not you?”
“I thought, why not me? Is this guy kidding? Women weren’t running companies. Latina women weren’t running companies. Immigrants weren’t running companies. So I thought that was just ridiculous,” she said at the show.
Williams was five years old when her family immigrated to the US in 1967. Her father worked in factories and washed dishes in restaurants at night. “My parents really are the embodiment of the American Dream. My dad worked several jobs at a time, my mom did piecework at home. Just to sort of make a living for me,” she added.
At the start of her career, Williams admits it was the ‘power of mentorship’ that encouraged her to excel in her profession. In 2007, Williams joined PG&E to lead the operations prior to her senior role as the President and CEO a decade later.
“It’s the power of influence and having someone that you look up to tell you that they think you can do something that you don’t think you can do yourself,” Williams said. “I didn’t know I was going to become CEO. At that point, I doubted it, but I thought, I’m going places. I’m going to work hard and I am going to be a leader.”
In her opinion immigrants have the right to receive the same opportunities granted to others, who have contributed to America’s growth story.
“Immigrants bring energy and they bring innovation and they bring creativity. They bring that hunger for advancement and for betterment and I think it’s been an absolute secret weapon the United States has,” Williams concluded.