Maurice Perkins has reason to be proud of his career. The first-generation Cuban-American worked on behalf of the George W. Bush presidential campaign as a foreign policy expert for the Western Hemisphere. He then went to work on the Foreign Relations Committee and the Banking Committee, both for the US Senate. He’s lobbied for the interests of the US life insurance, retirement, and asset management industries at the highest levels of government.
Since 2017, Perkins has headed global government and policy affairs for Transamerica and its parent company, Aegon, and he has added Transamerica’s communications and brand teams to his corporate leadership role. As the company’s first chief corporate affairs officer, Perkins is proud that the company is pushing for more representation for underrepresented communities.
“Our Hispanic ERG, HOLA, is a great example of us tuning into our diverse employee base, and our colleagues stepping up to do something as a force for good,” Perkins says. “HOLA is highlighting the common bonds Hispanics have and how we can use that to influence our talent acquisition, retention, and recruiting processes.”
Perkins says Transamerica now boasts over a dozen different employee resource groups (ERGs) across the organization, from Baltimore to Cedar Rapids to Denver. Transamerica’s north star, “Live Your Best Life,” can only be achieved if employees feel seen and heard, and Perkins says he’s proud of how the company has evolved over the course of his tenure.
“On our first call for our HOLA ERG, there was so much energy and enthusiasm and a collective question about what took so long,” Perkins recalls. “There has been so much great momentum that we didn’t want to lose, even with the onset of the pandemic, and we’re seeing some incredible things happening right now.”
HOLA is in the process of connecting with Hispanic leaders, celebrities, and other people of influence to speak at ERG events. While Perkins spearheaded the project, he’s quick to give credit to HOLA leaders Brandi Cruz (lead management specialist) and George Vega (chief technology officer). Perkins notes that they have demonstrated tremendous leadership, guidance, and enthusiasm for HOLA—and it shows in how they talk about it.
“First, I love the brand,” Vega explains. “What better way to greet, invite, and involve our colleagues than with a simple hello/hola? Working with Maurice and the rest of the ERG leadership team to retain, attract, and network across our organization is exciting. HOLA is the newest ERG group at Transamerica, so effectively we are a startup. Growing organically and shaping this network and focus is exciting.”
“To be part of the group of leaders to drive the build of HOLA has been a unique opportunity to help increase awareness of the Hispanic culture and value each of us present as an individual, employee and customer,” Cruz says. “I can’t wait to see the impact our ERG will have in supporting and driving the advancement of the Hispanic community.”
Perkins’s own Latino roots run deep. Spanish was his first language and he remembers being picked on in preschool for not yet having mastered English. His mother and father were both born in Havana, and their families fled Cuba after the Communist Revolution in 1959. Perkins’s father was an airline pilot, and so the future executive grew up traveling throughout South and Central America, including Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, the Caribbean, and Mexico.
“While I would work a great deal on US-Latin America policy and trade issues when I got older, I had already physically traveled to all of these places growing up,” Perkins explains. “I was endeared to their cultures, and I experienced the best that these places had to offer, not just strictly from a Miami-Cuban perspective.”
His globetrotting extends beyond the Americas: Perkins lived in Paris, France, for two years in high school. He also moved to the Netherlands during the summer of 2018 with his family shortly after coming to Transamerica, which is owned by multinational life insurance company Aegon, headquartered in the Hague, Netherlands. Although he’s now based in Washington, DC, he says his time in Europe made managing teams located on the continent far easier when it comes to understanding cultural and regulatory differences.
For those looking to lead global teams, Perkins offers sound advice—which he himself has received.
“If you want to be successful in a global role, you really have to rely on the strength of the teams in your country units,” Perkins advises. “It’s as simple as that. Help consolidate everything you need to know with regard to different regulatory environments.”
It’s easy to understand why Transamerica and Aegon wanted Perkins. He’s worked closely on policy and regulatory issues with the US Congress, US Executive Branch, and multilateral financial institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Inter-American Development Bank (whose members are comprised almost entirely of Latin American countries).
He’s worked extensively with several world governments, particularly in the Americas and Europe. After working on behalf of the insurance and retirement industry for twelve years at the American Council of Life Insurers, Perkins saw fit to get a new perspective on the business side of insurers.
Perkins continues to share the patriotism that brought his parents here. “The United States has been incredibly welcoming to my family and my parents’ generation,” Perkins says. “I’m eternally grateful to my parents for allowing me this opportunity, and to grow up in a place that affords anybody the opportunity to work hard and succeed.”