Geisha Williams – Highly Successful Cuban-American Businesswoman

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Geisha Jimenez Williams is an American businesswoman whose family hails from Cuba. Geisha was born in Cuba and migrated to the United States with her family when she was five years old. This was just after her father was released from being a political prisoner under the Castro regime. With her new found freedom in the United States of America, Geisha went on to achieve great things. She excelled in school and attended the University of Miami (1980 – 1983) earning a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Industrial Engineering. She later went on to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Nova Southern University. She now resides in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, Jay Williams, and their two daughters. Ms. Williams is a member of the Board of Trustees of the California Academy of Sciences and is on the Board of Directors of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Following her higher education, Geisha Williams built a career in the energy industry that spanned three decades. She served as Vice President, Power Systems for Florida Power & Light Company from 1983 to 2007. From there she went on to assume the role of President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). In this role, Geisha Williams was recognized as the first Latin female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She has since been honored with the recognition of being one of the highest ranking Latina leaders in business in the United States.

Fortune Magazine called Geisha Williams “a classic immigrant success story” in the article written about her in 2017. Geisha Williams comes from a family of dreamers and trail blazers. Her parents initially supported Fidel Castro and his aim to take on the tyranny in Cuba. They became disillusioned, however, when Castro began militarising the entire country and suppressing free speech.

Perhaps Geisha Williams was destined for America, and to break out of the stereotype image of “poor, Latin immigrant girl.” As the family story goes, Geisha’s name was taken from the American John Wayne movie “The Barbarian and the Geisha.” She certainly broke out of some preconceived notions in the energy sector of business during her tenure at PG&E. By way of her leadership, PG&E came to recognized as a leader in renewable energy and smart grid technologies.

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