Maria Hernandez has made her mark in business as an innovator and business coach. As a mentor for FAU Tech Runway, she brings many years of experience to the next generation of entrepreneurs and has inspired and supported women in multiple industries.
Hernandez was formerly the chief innovation officer for International Business Machines Corporation, and later, was a senior vice president for Modernizing Medicine. Passionate about empowering women in business, she co-founded Madrinas in 2013, an organization to support career advancement for Latina professionals.
Hernandez encourages entrepreneurs to step out of their comfort zone. “Your opportunity is now, because you are not alone,” she said. “FAU Tech Runway has the support an entrepreneur needs for every step of their journey.”
Learn more about Maria Hernandez’s approach to mentoring entrepreneurs:
Q. Why did you choose to be a mentor at FAU Tech Runway?
A. I've been impressed with the commitment at all levels of the organization and the university level. The Tech Runway program is an ecosystem approach to supporting entrepreneurs, which I think is unparalleled to other organizations. The team-based mentoring at Tech Runway is really difficult to find all under one roof. All of the mentors, including myself, span various industries and disciplines.
Q. Have you had a mentor before? If so, how have they helped guide you?
A. I've had several mentors throughout my career, and they've been instrumental in providing transparent guidance, as well as being a sounding board for new ideas and challenges. Each mentor has shown confidence in me and been my cheerleader during tough times.
Q. What is the best advice you can give an entrepreneur?
A. Entrepreneurs are usually trailblazers, they're often disrupting a market or industry, and they take quite a bit of risk in all they do. A heavy dose of courage and tenacity are needed to both begin and stay on the journey
Q. What is a mistake you have made that you wish others can learn from?
A. I didn’t step out of my comfort zone often enough. Taking risks and finding my voice was something I learned along the way, but it wasn't always the case when I first started out in my career.
Q. Do you recommend any tips for entrepreneurs to learn from?
A. I recommend incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine, such as meditation or yoga. Being an entrepreneur requires energy and clarity of mind, body and spirit to stay grounded on what's surely to be a fascinating journey of discovery.
Maria Hernandez is the 2020 Maverick Mentor of the Year, in recognition for her dedication to the FAU Tech Runway team mentoring program. She and other award winners will be recognized at the 2020 Maverick Reception. To pre-register for this free virtual event, support our entrepreneurs and watch our save the date video, visit the event website here.