Patricia Dominguez was one of the first people in Mexico to have an Apple IIc computer. The year was 1984, and Dominguez remembers loading into the family car and driving 265 miles from her native city of Chihuahua over the border to El Paso, Texas, to find the closest electronic store selling Steve Wozniak’s revolutionary eight-bit home computer.
Today, Dominguez is a veteran IT director at Cooper Standard, a large automotive parts supplier based in the Detroit suburbs. But back then, she was a high school student with a budding passion for technology and electronics.
It all started in Beaverton, Oregon. That’s where Dominguez spent her freshman year, learning English. During her time at boarding school, Dominguez saw something she had never seen in Mexico—a countertop microwave oven. Americans were using Radarange RR-6s to defrost food and reheat leftovers.
Although Dominguez once thought she might follow in her father’s footsteps and become a doctor, a year in Beaverton (which has since become home to a cluster of leading computing companies) exposed her to new technologies and set her on a new path.
“I saw how fast the world was changing, and it made me aware of the potential in technology,” she says. She returned to Mexico and studied information technology at the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.
The passion Dominguez discovered in Beaverton has motivated her for the last forty years as she’s built a reputation as a dynamic change agent capable of implementing tech solutions, leading large teams, and driving process improvements to transform complex organizations. She’s applied her expertise in dozens of countries throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.
In the early part of her career, Dominguez established a strong foundation that would take her far. She started at Delphi, where she managed the entire scope of applications for Delphi Mexico. The Mexican division was then a $3 billion motor vehicle manufacturing company with sixty plants, making it the second largest non-government employer in the country.
After three years, leaders tapped Dominguez to lead strategy and operations support for an engineering systems portfolio for which she executed global deployment to twenty thousand users. Taking major assignments and switching roles every one to three years forced her to maintain continuous learning and professional development. “I’ve never just done development or IT projects,” she says. “I’ve developed broad skills and a wide perspective. Working with different teams, roles, responsibilities, and challenges brings a very rich experience.”
In 2015, as Delphi was preparing to restructure and relocate, Dominguez joined Cooper Standard for the chance to stay in Michigan as part of a small, growing company with strong culture and values. As IT director, she plans and executes multiple technology projects, manages vendors, and finds new ways to improve financial results and empower new growth.
As supply chain challenges and tough economic times impact all companies across the industry, Dominguez’s role takes on special importance. She and her team have the opportunity to harness the power of technology and automation to achieve efficiencies, reduce costs, and increase profitability. “The issues we face today are difficult and require innovative and creative solutions,” she says.
Recently, the tech department started using a third-party cost management tool called Apptio to analyze budgets, forecasts costs, and allocate resources. Dominguez realized what an impact the platform could have on her counterparts and expanded it to other functions and departments. By sharing IT’s “secret recipe,” she’s making an impact on the entire organization.
Additionally, Dominguez partnered with Lexmark and gained efficiencies by moving from leasing printers to a managed print service. The change not only reduces costs but also contributes to environmental goals and sustainability efforts.
While changing the way a company handles printing may sound simple, it’s a long and complicated ordeal that involves retraining employees and negotiating massive contracts. The project didn’t come in as a request; IT noticed a bottleneck and addressed it. That, Dominguez says, is what being a dynamic leader is all about. “A change agent has to lead, contribute, collaborate, and support the organization through transformation by bringing ideas, people, and resources together to achieve results and deliver value.”
She leads her team through strategic planning, financial management, and global IT initiatives. The work requires collaboration with people from multiple functions located across multiple regions such as North America, South America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Dominguez’s own identity as a Latina is an asset. “Being from another country helps me be sensitive and more receptive to cultural differences for better work interaction,” she says, adding that this is even more important today as most communication is done on digital platforms.
As Cooper Standard executes its growth plans, Dominguez is focused on the seamless expansion of IT technologies, bringing capabilities to additional functions, and advancing innovation for optimum use of resources while maximizing ROI. After more than forty years, she’s still excited about emerging technologies. But instead of the microwave, she’s looking into things like robotic process automation and artificial intelligence.