Today, despite many advances in the treatment of women in the workplace, highly compensated female CEOs still remain something of a rarity in the business world. The biography of Geisha Williams should inspire ambitious young women seeking to compete with male peers. She has insisted upon receiving equal treatment (and compensation) for her services as a corporate executive.
A Childhood Filled With Economic Deprivation
Today in her late 50s and accomplished in her field, Geisha Williams did not always rank among the affluent in society. As a young child, she endured hardship resulting from her father’s adherence to principle. Her successful career did not appear guaranteed, by any means.
Mrs. Williams’ family resided in Cuba. Geisha J. Jimenez spent her earliest years living in a vehemently Communist nation. Fidel Castro, the fiery leader of Cuba, did not maintain good relations with the United States. He imposed punitive measures upon Cubans perceived as opposing his government. Geisha’s father suffered as a political prisoner. His young family endured deprivations.
Ambitious From an Early Age
Fortunately for the Jimenez family, they obtained permission to emigrate to the United States during the mid-1960s. They relocated to the bleak winter landscape of Minnesota. While she attended school, Geisha’s father worked hard to support his family. He labored at a factory and also accepted part-time employment as a dishwasher. The Jimenez family saved diligently to open two groceries: La Guajira and La Milagrossa.
Geisha graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. She soon accepted a position auditing residential energy usage. Her employer, Florida Power and Light, supplied electricity to households in the Sunshine State. The entry level auditor subsequently received a Masters of Business Administration from another university; she advanced in rank with the Florida utility company by assisting its customers in regaining power following outages. She married Jay Williams and the couple raised two daughters.
A Well-Compensated Chief Executive Officer
As Geisha Williams gained prominence, she also seized the opportunity to contribute to her field in a leadership position. In 2007, she accepted the offer to become an Executive Vice President at Pacific Gas & Electric Company, a utility responsible for serving millions of California residents. In March, 2017, the firm tapped her to become its new Chief Executive Officer.
This increase in rank came with a generous compensation package and the proverbial “golden parachute”. Geisha Williams achieved an important milestone: she became the first Latina to head a Fortune 500 company in the United States! She remained at the helm of PG&E until January, 2019.
During her career, Geisha Williams has received numerous honors. For example, the Edison Electric Institute selected her to serve as a Director. The trade organization advances the interests of electric companies in the USA. Her career demonstrates that women in business may aspire towards the same executive stature and compensation packages as men.