When TPG went public in 2022, Anilu Vazquez-Ubarri was asked to join its board of directors. It was the perfect moment for the investment firm, which prides itself in taking a stand on important and timely issues, to lead the way yet again when it comes to representation in the space.
“Our culture here is so important, and this was the opportunity for us to eat our own cooking when it comes to being vocal about diversity, especially at the senior levels at our firm,” explains Vazquez-Ubarri, partner and chief human resources officer (CHRO) at TPG.
The board itself, she notes, is not only diverse in terms of ethnicity and gender but also experience. “[TPG Founder] Jim Coulter and [TPG CEO] Jon Winkelried were purposeful about these selections and did exactly what they needed to do to show they walk the walk,” she says.
Vazquez-Ubarri joined TPG in 2018 to lead all things human resources after an extensive career at Goldman Sachs. Her tough love approach might be distinctive in the HR space, but her record and reputation don’t lie.
“People always know that I will tell the truth,” she says. “That has served me in my professional as well as my personal life. Transparency is so important because it lets those around you know that you are going to say what needs to be said. It doesn’t mean you’re always right, but I don’t think anyone leaves a conversation with me confused about what I believe.”
Vazquez-Ubarri believes her emphasis on candor is critical for a person of color because if she doesn’t speak up, who will? It’s an additional burden that people from underserved backgrounds are forced to take on in corporate America—at least until diversity, equity, and inclusion are more broadly established.
As CHRO, Vazquez-Ubarri says she and her organization are stewards of the culture at TPG. “That’s a big job that requires you to be brave, because every day something is going to come up that you hadn’t planned on confronting,” she says. “It could be a valuable teaching moment and an organic opportunity to have an important conversation.”
Fortunately, the Vazquez-Ubarri has been emboldened by a culture of empathy and humanity at TPG. “There is a personal touch that is really unique to this firm,” she says. “That’s true with how we engage with our investors, with our portfolio companies, with our shareholders, and with any stakeholders that we come across. And it’s very much true how we engage with our employees. It’s a very one-to-one culture.”
What may be most telling about Vazquez-Ubarri’s culture stewardship at TPG is what she considers to be one of her biggest successes in the past four years. It’s not the board seat. It’s seeing just how hard her team fought to make life for employees easier during the pandemic.
“There was so much tragedy and trauma around the world,” she reflects. “It meant so much to hear from our people how TPG was their place of comfort, and how they felt really supported, during such a difficult time for them and their families.”