Take 5 with José Villalba

José Villalba

Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and Chief Diversity Officer at Wake Forest University

1. How do you define success for yourself? What has helped you to be successful?

head shot photo of José Villalba
José Villalba

Success is being able to see the potential in others, and doing all that I can to support their professional development. What’s helped me achieve this sort of success is that others have done the same for me.

2. Think of a time that you faced a challenge, obstacle, or roadblock. How did you get through that and what did you learn?

Admitting the severity (or not) of the challenge was the first step to getting through it. Next, deciding what I could and could not do about the situation. Finally, seeking assistance from those that can cover my blind spots and incompetence.

3. Who are your people (either by name or role) who help you to be successful/confident/intentional/reflective/any other descriptor you want to use? And how have they helped you?

For me it’s the members of the ODI (Office of Diversity and Inclusion) Team, from AVP’s, Executive Directors, and Directors, to newer and less-experienced members of the team. And they help by pointing out not only when I have succeeded at a particular endeavor, but more importantly when I am coming short. More importantly they always offer suggestions for how to address the challenges.

4. How did you find your people?

I think it starts from being in the same rooms and sharing the same areas of expertise/interest with colleagues. I think a better thing to consider is how do you sustain the connections with “your people.” In my case, I continue to offer whatever assistance I can, and being open to listening and learning.

5. What advice would you give to Wake Forest students as they look for their people?

Learn how to “retrace” your steps so that you can find other “people.” And being intentional about how you connect is important, so that you can increase your level of self-awareness. This notion of self-awareness is important for leadership; for being an effective leader.