As a part of our series called ‘Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO’ we had the pleasure of interviewing Hector Sanchez.
As the CEO of Premier, Hector Sanchez has positioned himself as a leader and go-getter accelerating the growth and success of the firm and its staff in all departments. With 16 years experience of multidisciplinary leadership, Sanchez works collaboratively to create efficient and creative solutions.
Before leading the Premier team, he was Senior Vice President at Rubicon Oilfield International, where he successfully managed 150 employees and a $100M revenue budget. Prior to Rubicon Oilfield International, he spent 15 years at National Oilwell Varco, serving as Vice President of Sales and Operations for North America, where he successfully managed 700 employees and a $500M revenue budget.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I am not sure if it was a career path that I chose. Previously, I had a great career in the oil and gas industry, and as time passed, I continued to get more responsibilities that included managing bigger teams and bigger businesses. I very much enjoyed the strategy, financial, and leadership portions of many of the roles I had. Managers thought I did a decent job, and they continued to increase my responsibilities — that’s how I think I ended up here.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I came to Premier last year in the middle of the pandemic, so when I first began there was a lot going on. The firm was in the midst of a reorganization, occupancy in the hotel industry hit record low levels, our customers were deferring payments and it was my job to lead those difficult conversations. However, we have a very good team at Premier that made the transition into the role a lot easier than it otherwise would have been.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the biggest mistakes I made as a very junior manager was hiring people like myself, and I realized very quickly that I was going to drive myself crazy.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve had numerous mentors throughout my career that have helped me along the way and I still talk to many of them. Even today, when I run into a problem that I can’t figure out, I call them and ask for guidance. I am very grateful that I have those people in my life and it’s hard for me to give credit to just one person, but to name a few: Eric Drake, Mark Tooley, Jim Fox, Michael Reeves, and Neil Fletcher.
As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
This is something that I feel very strongly about. Currently over half of our executive leadership team are people of color and almost half are women. People largely make most of their decisions based on their upbringing and overall life experiences. I have found that you want people in a team that think very differently and that view challenges from different lenses. I think this has really worked out well for us here at Premier.
As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.
In order for us to really create an inclusive, representative and equitable society we need to stop looking at ourselves as “different” and not convince ourselves that others control our fate. Doing so limits us in what we think we can do and aspire to be. From the corporate side, it’s about continuing to foster an inclusive, representative and equitable society.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
The CEO is ultimately responsible for the overall performance of the company. This not only includes financial performance, but also managing the overall long-term strategy for growth. This encompasses envisioning the way the company will position itself for success, guiding company culture, and hiring colleagues and associates.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean? I read the myths online and my comments are under each one of them.
- CEOs have all of the answers: A CEO’s job is to hire a team that has most of the answers or are capable of solving them. A CEOs job is not to micromanage and be so involved in the day-to-day operations of their business.
- CEOs are not approachable: Even though this may be the case with some CEOs, I know for a fact it isn’t with all of them. I know many excellent leaders that are in CEO roles that are extremely approachable.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
When I first started my career, I thought that the executives answered to no one and did what they thought was best — but little did I know that they answer to many more people than most employees ever will.
Do you think everyone is cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
I don’t think everyone wants to be an executive, but sometimes folks only come to that realization when they are promoted to the job. You have to be able to deal with a tremendous amount of stress and pressure; there are many things that happen that are completely outside of your control that you in some form or fashion are still ultimately responsible for. To explain further, things happen in the economy that affect your particular industry and because of that you are having to adjust and make extremely difficult decisions to ensure that you position the company to survive whatever is happening at the moment, and then readjust when you come out the other end.
What advice would you give to other business leaders to help create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?
Create a culture where everyone is listened to regardless of their role or title, and then take their feedback into serious consideration when making decisions. Don’t just make decisions in a vacuum at the executive level. Be transparent and honest when communicating with your organization.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I have been a strong influence to many family members and friends. I come from a very humble background and the things that I have accomplished throughout my career and my personal life have given other friends and family members opportunities, like going to college, that otherwise wouldn’t be an option otherwise. I am also extremely fortunate to be able to help and donate to nonprofits on a consistent basis, helping to empower younger generations.
Fantastic. Here is the primary question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- It gets lonely at the top: This was actually told to me many years ago by a mentor; it didn’t really make a lot of sense at the time, but now it does. When you continue to climb the corporate ladder you are privy to certain confidential information or situations that you can’t just talk to anyone about. Where you were able to speak to 10–15 people about a certain situation now you are only able to talk to 1–2 colleagues.
- You work for your team, they don’t work for you: Your job as CEO is to make sure that your team has the right tools to succeed, whether that’s software, product or people. You hear it all the time, but it is about hiring the best people and not telling them what to do, but telling you what they need.
- Don’t try to hire mirror images of yourself: You will drive yourself crazy if you think that hiring people just like yourself is the key to success. It’s practically impossible as everyone is unique; instead, hire people that complement the rest of the team.
- You still have people to report to as CEO, you are not able to make all of the decisions: You will always have multiple people to report to, whether it’s a CEO of a parent company, the board of directors, investors and/or customers.
- Your way is not necessarily the best way: As leaders we always think that our way is the best and only way, but it is much more important for the team to feel confident in presenting their own solutions. This will make sure that they always go the extra mile.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Focusing on impacting middle- and high-school students within lower income neighborhoods. Doing so will allow them to see that they can succeed when they often feel that all of the cards are stacked against them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The world demands results, not excuses.’’ I read this many years ago and I feel that as a society we think that a “good” excuse is just as good as getting things done — I disagree.
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