Entrepeneur Nina Vaca shared a humble message Saturday as the keynote speaker of the 2013 Quad-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Annual Gala.
In 1996, Vaca founded Dallas-based Pinnacle, an information technology services provider to Fortune 500 companies.
Today its annual revenues top $200 million and the company has a staff of more than 4,000 consultants in the U.S. and Canada.
In between running her company, the 41-year-old entrepreneur is a director of Comerica Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. She also is the mother of four children and loves competing in triathlons.
She has traveled the world as a representative of the entrepreneurial spirit in America.
Through it all, Vaca keeps a healthy perspective on the life she has built with the support of her husband, Jim Humrichouse, and what others can accomplish.
“The truth is, I’m really no big thing,” Vaca said before taking the stage for her keynote speech Saturday at the gala at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf.
“I’m just me,” she said. But she also is proof of the value of hard work and dedication in attaining the American Dream.
“If a 5-foot Ecuadorian can do it, anyone can do it,” she said.
As one of five children, Vaca says she has a drive within her to succeed, the same drive her parents had when they immigrated to Los Angeles and opened a travel agency.
“My parents were so thankful for the opportunity they had to come to a country where they could be anything they wanted,” Vaca said.
Vaca said that her biggest joy outside of her family is reaching out to others to show them they can fulfill their dreams.
Greg Aguilar, a member of the Hispanic Chamber’s board of directors, said entrepreneurship is a staple of the Hispanic community, especially among Hispanic women.
“Hispanic women are opening up businesses faster than any other demographic,” Aguilar said.
“Entrepreneurship is part of the Hispanic heritage,” he added. “It’s about wanting to work for yourself, to build something special, to put your unique skills to work and raise your family and be part of improving the community.”
Aguilar said the U.S. is changing from the melting pot to one of a cultural collage where everyone is welcome and can be themselves.
Freshman Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said she was there to meet people and learn.
“I’ve been in Congress all of 23 days,” she said. “The Hispanic community and its economic influence are growing. I said when I ran for Congress I would focus on the economy and jobs in the Quad-Cities.”
The Hispanic population in the Quad-Cities has many entrepreneurs who know what it takes to succeed in business and foster the growth that is vital to the area, she said.
About 400 people attended the event. It was the fourth year for the gala, and the audience numbered about 120 more than last year.
The organization’s chairman and founder, Robert Ontiveros, founder of Group O in Milan, said the group’s job is to “help people succeed in growing their businesses and making sure they have a communication pipeline with the major corporations.”