When Dr. Veronica Muzquiz Edwards, CEO of InGenesis and a Baldrige Fellow, was recently asked if she feels pressure to be a role model after being named by Fortune as one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Latina Women in Corporate America,” her answer was “no.” As she recently explained in an interview for this blog, “such honors make it possible for everyone to see what can be obtained by women and Latinos in the business world.”
“We’re all going to face challenges, and it’s how we deal with them that creates leadership.” —Veronica Muzquiz Edwards
In both her professional and personal actions, Edwards said, she strives to be a positive role model, which she sees as “leaving your mark wherever you can.”
According to Edwards, as she set out to make her company a leader in the workforce solutions industry, she recognized that “people are at the heart of everything we do.” Founded in 1998 by Edwards, InGenesis provides staffing to organizations in the United States and beyond. She said that as one of the largest Hispanic- and woman-owned companies in America, InGenesis faces a challenging employment environment. However, she added, “our specialization in clinical health care has earned us significant status within the health care industry, both nationally and internationally.”
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s damage to cities in Texas, the home state of Edwards’ company (which is based in San Antonio), “we looked at how we could contribute” to relief and rebuilding efforts, she said. “With devastating floods, roadways were often impassable, and vehicles left immobile,” she recounted. “Residents literally couldn’t get anywhere.” So InGenesis donated commuter passes to provide more than 5,000 trips for patients, students, and associates in the Houston area, she said. The company also made available its employee assistance programs, and Edwards created a fund for InGenesis employees to receive full pay for their week of lost wages caused by the September 2017 hurricane, according to Edwards.
As another example of her efforts to leave a beneficial legacy, she shared that InGenesis is a leading supporter of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). “That designation means a lot to me because my brother passed away from complications of diabetes, a condition that greatly affects the Latino community,” she said. With partners such as InGenesis, ADA shipped an estimated $2.45 million of free diabetes supplies—including insulin—to survivors of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Diabetic patients in need of resources were given 24/7 access to call centers and online support to help them find nearby pharmacies or medical facilities, according to Edwards. Through these efforts, she said, she aims to align her company’s philanthropic efforts with health care initiatives.
A first-generation American, Edwards set her sights on a career in business as an undergraduate student at Texas State University. She next received an MBA from the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW). When she later graduated with a doctoral degree from UIW, her daughter, Sydney, earned her undergraduate degree from UIW that same year. To commemorate such a unique experience, the two decided to make a positive difference for other Latinos by setting up several educational scholarships, Edwards shared.
According to Edwards, she became more familiar with the Baldrige Excellence Framework in part because of conversations with Dr. Annette Craven, a veteran Baldrige examiner who is the founding dean of her doctoral program. (Edwards focused her doctoral studies on crisis leadership and disaster-preparedness for businesses.) She said Craven recommended she consider the Baldrige Fellows program. “I knew about the Baldrige program … but [Craven] is the one who really encouraged me to go down this path,” said Edwards.
Edwards also affirmed that she has applied principles of the Baldrige framework to strengthen the management and performance of the InGenesis organization. For example, when the company was faced with rebuilding processes and systems following a devastating building fire in 2015, Edwards recounted, “every single group in the company was challenged to attain the highest certification possible for their respective area (e.g., finance, credentialing, etc.), tied to quality standards and aligned with the Baldrige Criteria.”
As a result, she said, “Our recovery from the fire and incorporation of the excellence framework helped strengthen the company.”
Edwards said she values the relationships she’s forged as a Baldrige Fellow. “There have been professional relationships developed as everyone is at different stages of discovery in relation to the Baldrige framework,” she said. “And relationships continue to grow outside the Fellows program.”
Asked about her experiences in the Baldrige leadership program for executives, Edwards observed. “We all experience challenges, but all can be addressed within the cycle [of continuous improvement and innovation].”
She added that she has learned a great deal from the (confidential) insights participants share with each other. Learning about peer executives’ experiences, she noted, has helped change her perspective on her company. “My mentality going in was to think that we needed to be perfect as a company, but now I see that the mentality is to acknowledge and embrace imperfection and build a sustainable Baldrige driven framework,” she said. “Our opportunity is to grow, innovate, and use best practices.”
“The biggest appreciation that I have now [of leading her company through a cycle of innovation] is that it’s not just a cycle, it’s like a tornado … a cycle that keeps moving,” she observed with a laugh.
The Baldrige Executive Fellows Program is a hands-on leadership development program that will propel your organization to higher levels of performance. Learn from a cohort of senior decision makers and Baldrige Award recipients and emerge with a broader perspective on how to achieve performance excellence for your organization, stimulate innovation, and build the knowledge and capabilities necessary for organizational sustainability.