35 First Vice President-Director of Diversity - UBS Financial Services Inc., Weehawken, N.J.
Haitian-born Geraldine Mehu came to the United States at the age of 10 not knowing how to speak English. That was more than 25 years ago. Mehu, who is first vice president and director of diversity strategy and development at UBS Financial Services, understands the magnitude of her parent’s decision to leave the Democratic Republic of Congo, which they immigrated to after leaving Haiti. “I realized early on that perseverance and determination were the keys to adapting to this new environment,” she says.
While some may stumble in grappling with the social, cultural and language barriers of a foreign land, Mehu believes that those very challenges fueled her success. “These monumental experiences have shaped who I am as a person,” she says. It is no wonder that she has carved out an enviable career in organizational diversity and employee development. At UBS, she oversees diversity initiatives for more than 17,000 employees. “I impact many areas of the business,” Mehu states, “[providing] more opportunities for people who traditionally did not have access.”
With a B.A. in criminal justice and sociology and an M.A. in public administration, both from Seton Hall University in New Jersey, Mehu started her career in politics, serving as deputy press secretary in the New Jersey’s governor’s office. Diversity awareness was of particular importance to her, and she initiated strategies for reaching out to minority media outlets in the tristate area. This led to other opportunities, most notably her tenure as deputy chief of staff with the New Jersey Department of State, where she developed a Leadership Awareness Campaign to encourage attention to diversity issues, and at Barclays Capital, as associate director of global diversity and employee relations.
Mehu’s goal is to become a motivational speaker for youth groups around the world. Until that happens, she is biding her time motivating her daughter. She credits her husband as “an anchor to me living a well-balanced life while continuously pushing me to grow.”