As we get closer to our 13th Annual Top Women Awards Luncheon on May 3rd at the Hilton Miami Downtown, we thought it’d be a good idea to get up-close and personal with one of our incredible panelists. Liz Alicea-Velez, owner of Huntington Learning Center, has had an incredible journey and we wanted to learn a little bit more about the woman behind the business.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in the Bronx in New York City.
What was your dream job as a kid and why?
When you are raised in the environment that I was raised in, you don’t have a lot of exposure to what people actually do. I knew I wanted to get dressed up and work in a business environment and be in a location where I would have a role of responsibility. What exactly that job was, I wasn’t entirely sure.
How did you get where you are today?
My grandmother and my aunts played a big role in my life and helped shape me into the woman I am today. My mother passed away when I was very young, so I was raised by my grandmother until I was 10, and then lived with different aunts throughout different times of my life. We all know the saying “It takes a village”, and there were a lot of women in my family that took turns helping raise me.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date?
In my personal life, being married for 35 years and having 2 well-educated children is my biggest accomplishment. Career wise, it would be leading a large corporation worth $800 million in revenue as Executive Vice President. I am also proud to have attended and graduated from Harvard Business School.
What’s your secret for success?
My secret to success would be being fair-minded, tenacious and persistent. If I want something in life, I will go after it and achieve it. Once I have a clear goal, I am going to get there.
Who are the mentors that stand out to you the most?
I have had different types of mentors along the way. In my early years, it would be my aunt who instilled the importance of education upon me and had high expectations of me. I have also had several male and female bosses that have guided my career and pushed me to go for positions they thought I could do.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Listen carefully, but also verify the information you are receiving.
What is one thing that not many people know about you that may be surprising?
I am a movie junkie. I enjoy watching Academy Award movies, and movies in any genre from suspense to drama to romance.
How do you disconnect/what do you do for fun?
I enjoy traveling and make it a point to have a family trip every other year. I have gone to Japan, Europe, Latin America and Asia just to name a few. If I go somewhere on a business trip and like it, I make a mental note to go back and visit outside of work.