Name: Barbara Peña
Title: Director, Employee Relations Business Manager
Company: MUFG Union Bank, N.A
Headquarters: New York, New York
Number of Employees: Approximately 13,700 in the Americas
Education: Attended California State University, Los Angeles
What I’m Reading: Reality- Based Leadership by Cy Wakeman
My Philosophy: Treat people the way you would like to be treated. You earn people’s respect by treating them with respect, kindness, and professionalism.
Away from Work, I: Focus on my family, my community, and church activities. While my four kids are all grown and have left the nest, they are still my priority.
How My Heritage Values Fuel My Success: Throughout my life, I’ve been driven by three guiding principles—be proud of my culture and heritage, work hard, and always maintain the highest ethics. My Hispanic heritage is a culture steeped in traditions, and I cherish those traditions. They are a fundamental part of my identity, whether it’s enjoying big family gatherings or making holiday meals that have become staples in our Latino community. I have never forgotten my roots and I remain deeply proud of them.
My values helped me develop a successful career in human resources. One of the most esteemed qualities of my heritage is a strong, indefatigable work ethic—the belief that anything that is worth having is worth working hard for. It is because of my tireless work ethic and strong sense of personal responsibility, that I have been recognized at MUFG Union Bank. In the 11 years that I have been with the bank, I have held different roles with increasing management responsibilities. I was selected to take on a newly created role as Human Resources Business Partner for the company’s Consumer and Business Banking group. All of my experience really came into play in this role, and I probably would not have been asked to take on this new challenge if I had not taken risks earlier in my career.
I am proud to be part of MUFG Union Bank, a company that was founded on some of those same principles—a commitment to always doing what’s right and a sincere respect for people and diversity. Being part of a global company that shares my own values is gratifying. It’s an exciting time to be at MUFG Union Bank, building my own career in human resources, while continuing to help others pursue their own professional development.
The Best Career Advice I’ve Received and the Advice I Offer Others: My career spans nearly 40 years. In that time, I have learned many lessons. The best advice that I received from a mentor was to always remain flexible and learn from every project, because that newly gained knowledge might be the key that unlocks a door to greater career opportunities. In my experience, this has proven to be true. Even when it may appear that a new project or new idea isn’t relevant to your career development, you really never know where the opportunities are going to come from. Sometimes a lateral move can make you more accomplished and better prepared for the next promotion. I’ve always been asked by my supervisors and peers to take on more responsibilities and new roles that ultimately helped shape my career as a highly capable HR professional.
I would share the same advice that I was fortunate to receive: Be flexible, remain open to learning new things, and accept constructive feedback. While feedback can be hard to accept, once you learn to analyze the information and work on improving in that area, it can be very empowering. There is no question that it will enhance your skills and your overall ability to be a stronger professional.
I would also advise new professionals to find a company that matches their values and ethics. I am proud to be part of MUFG Union Bank, an institution that much like my own heritage has rich traditions that have withstood time. As long as you are willing to put in the time, work and effort, the sky is the limit.