Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
When Bruny Rios takes a sip of coffee, her childhood is not far from her mind. As children, she and her brother were given a giant container by her father to fill to the brim with coffee beans. Together they spent hours picking them in their native Puerto Rico. Though her family was technically poor, Rios says she was never aware of that in her childhood. “I grew up in a vast piece of land that my brother and I used as a playground,” she explains, adding, “I never had a sense of necessity.”
Spending days on end picking coffee beans seems like it would have provided enough reason to put Rios off the stuff for the rest of her life, but she says it’s absolutely the opposite. “I drink coffee daily,” Rios says cheerfully. “When people talk about coffee, I’ll always have an opinion.” She’ll even occasionally share her stories of working her family’s coffee farm.
“We learned very early on that anything we wanted, we were going to have to work for it,” Rios says. “You can complain all day long and look at all the things you may not have. But if you stop and look at what you do have, you’ll find it’s a lot and with it, endless possibilities.”
She believes that her upbringing is part of the reason she’s currently senior vice president of global revenue at Dell, a company she’s now been with for nearly two decades and one that’s an instantly recognizable name in technology. “It’s not something that I think about too much, but growing up that way made me resilient and adaptable,” Rios says. Her adaptability fits well with Dell, which Rios says is not only constantly innovating but has evolved immensely over the course of its history.
Rios came to the US in 1993, following her husband who was serving in the military. “It was a complete change in my life; it was an entirely new environment that was unfamiliar and challenging,” Rios says. But it was also exhilarating.
Having to adapt to an entirely new situation, she found her own flexibility empowering. It paired well with a strong desire to succeed, born from her family’s own struggles. Rios eventually went to work for Dell Financial Services (DFS), then a developing arm of the much larger parent organization. “It provided me with key opportunities, and I quickly volunteered to lead a major initiative that landed me in the corporate offices,” Rios says. “I have to tell you, at that stage of my career, it was certainly a project beyond my capabilities.”
It didn’t stop Rios. “I knew from previous experiences that I would thrive in this new environment and just had to look at it as an opportunity,” Rios says. “That’s one of the best things about working at Dell—it’s the perfect playground to challenge yourself and develop your career to go as far as you want to take it.”
After finding success at DFS, where she was learning and building a reputation, she went on to join Dell’s corporate accounting team, where she began a leadership and expansion role in charge of the entire corporate function including reporting, policy, M&A, and treasury. She now continues her leadership in the Global Revenue function of Dell.
“While there are a lot of tactical processes to continue to work on, the bottom line comes down to this: if we believe in the mission we have, everything else will follow.”
Rios is no stranger to widescale transformative initiatives. One of her largest projects concerned the 2016 combination of Dell and EMC Corporation that eventuated with Dell becoming the world’s largest privately controlled company. The combination meant addressing countless overlapping projects and processes, while working to embrace the best of both company cultures, which Rios says were each strong in their own ways. “You’re working to build a trusting environment where people can share and collaborate,” Rios says. “That’s where the work truly begins, not ends.”
“The Dell-EMC combination was one of the largest and most complicated technology deals ever,” says Adam Reilly, Deloitte lead M&A advisory partner. “Bruny’s strong leadership and clear-eyed decision making—despite an environment of competing priorities and constantly evolving information—was critical to both the consummation of the deal and the success of the integration.”
Mentoring and Elevating Latinos
Bruny Rios is passionate about mentoring at Dell and enables change via the Latino Connection employee resource group. Mentoring young Latino professionals is close to Rios’s heart. “We have similar culture and experiences that bind us together,” Rios says. “There’s a level of authenticity and transparency that makes the process special for me in that we’re able to learn from one another.”
Rios says that telling her own story is important to empower young Latino professionals to “work harder than anyone else.”
Rios also is a vocal promoter of D&I initiatives at Dell. “I’m extremely grateful to work at Dell because they’re so obviously committed to those initiatives,” Rios believes. “I would love to see more Latinos in my position across corporate America. Diversity brings diversity, and that’s what we’re doing and working to continue at Dell.”
Along with the EMC combination, two major divestures were occurring simultaneously in addition to Dell’s return to the public market in 2018. All of this created a rapidly evolving environment with a pace to match. “It really helped strengthen our adaptation muscle; we know how to get things done.”
Working through constant change and managing her own growing team has offered challenges for Rios, but a relentless sense of optimism permeates the SVP’s vision for the future. “While there are a lot of tactical processes to continue to work on, the bottom line comes down to this: if we believe in the mission and trust each other, everything else will follow.”
“Bruny exemplifies leadership, confidence, inclusivity, and collaboration,” says Brian Stevens, global coordinating service partner at EY. “Always willing to roll up her sleeves to achieve a desired outcome, Bruny has a unique talent for rallying those around her—integrating others in decision-making and in achieving a sustainable solution.”
Rios’s leadership ethos at Dell is tied to her days in Puerto Rico. “I pride myself on being approachable and flexible,” Rios says. “A leader is responsible for identifying various work styles and creating a space where individuals can do what they do best.”
Rios is direct when she needs to be but maintains that her team wins together and loses together, along with all that comes between. “There isn’t a single person that’s successful if the team is not,” she asserts.
The SVP measures her own successes by the opportunities to facilitate the career growth and development of those around her. “It’s very fulfilling to be part of other people’s success,” she says.
With that in mind, her own goals can best be summed up by something her mother used to tell her. “It’s pretty simple: no matter what you do, it’s important to be happy. And for me, that’s learning. If you are learning, you’re growing.”
Rios’s own focus on mentoring future Latino leaders is to ensure that another young, driven Puerto Rican girl who’s off picking coffee beans day in and day out will eventually be rewarded with wider opportunities. “I just want to pay it forward, and Dell has made that very easy to do.”