As chief diversity officer at Sandia National Laboratories, Esther Hernandez has been pivotal in establishing awareness, implementing policy and launching initiatives to improve the work environment for all employees. She says that her greatest professional accomplishment is “having the opportunity to serve as the Chief Diversity Officer at Sandia.” In addition to that role, she mentors young professionals and leads various committees and groups that work to highlight diversity and build an inclusive work environment. Hernandez, who has served in various roles at Sandia for more than 30 years, earned her MBA at the University of New Mexico and her BBA at New Mexico State University.

Hernandez’s leadership and championing of Sandia’s employee resource groups have helped establish the company as a diverse and inclusive workplace that continues to grow and improve, while advancing mission success. She co-chairs the company’s Military Support Committee and Women’s Action Network, and is a member of the Hispanic Leadership Committee. Hernandez also mentors several women at Sandia. “I had great mentors and champions throughout my career, and I feel strongly that it is my responsibility to give back in the same capacity,” she explains.

“Diversity means that we can each bring our ‘full selves’ to work and be appreciated, rather than judged, for our differences,” says Hernandez. “A diverse workforce generates a variety of ideas and inspires innovation. An inclusive environment values and engages employees, who are then more productive. And our constantly changing world demands fresh, fast and innovative solutions.”

“Know your strengths and use them!” is the advice Hernandez offers women. “Too often we spend so much time worrying about what we are not good at, that we lose sight of where we excel,” she explains. “Discover your talents, have confidence in yourself and find a job that allows you to use your gifts. Don’t worry if you do things differently from those who came before. This is YOUR journey and you have to walk it YOUR way.”