Hard work, education, and perseverance. Those are the values George López learned growing up in New York City with a mother who worked in a manufacturing company, a father who worked third shift at a post office, and a grandmother who could neither read nor write. López, the first in his family born in the United States, was named George. Not Jorge, but George—after George Washington. He personified a new beginning for his family and never forgot the values they taught him. He held on to those lessons throughout Cornell and Stanford, and took them to his position as a global account executive at the $3.6 billion consulting firm of Towers Watson.
López says he learned his work ethic from his parents, but came to understand the need for balance by interacting with his grandmother, who helped him appreciate the finer things in life like a good meal and a game of cards. “I put pressure on myself because I felt responsible to myself, my family, and my community, but she helped me enjoy life along the way,” López says. The lessons stick with him today as he leads global client teams at Towers Watson.
With more than 14,000 employees across 38 countries, Towers Watson is one of the world’s leading professional-services companies, advising top global companies in benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. As a global account director, López’s main focus is on developing a trusted adviser relationship with his clients. He takes a client-first approach on several of the organization’s largest global clients, which requires him to understand the dynamics and inner workings of several multifaceted industries, including biopharmaceuticals. “The biopharma industry is going through massive amounts of change,” explains López. “With Towers Watson’s deep experience in biopharma, we have a great opportunity to work closely with our clients as they manage their organizations through the transformation of their industry,” he says.
López leads a group of Towers Watson consultants focused on the specific needs of the biopharma industry. The group leverages their experience across many disciplines and industry-specific knowledge to help their clients succeed. “The key to our success is understanding how the industry dynamics impact our clients’ needs and developing solutions that address those needs,” he says.
By analyzing a client’s industry and applying his expertise to understand their competitive positioning, their business and people, their processes, and their technology, he can uncover business issues that have human capital and risk implications. In turn, he’s able to identify the Towers Watson resources and solutions that can help clients address those subjects.
Once Towers Watson is selected to work on a project, López starts an important process in which client expectations and needs are discussed in detail. “Each client defines success differently,” he says. “Our client-first approach is crucial at the start of a new relationship or project.”
The approach is especially important since Towers Watson works in 38 countries with different regulations and economies. Many of those clients are now balancing workforce cost concerns with their need to attract, retain, and engage employees. To retain a spot as a trusted adviser, López and his colleagues must stay up to date with regulations and legislation to anticipate client needs.
Looking back, López has indeed come a long way since his early days in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, but the values of hard work, education, perseverance, and the importance of a work-life balance he learned from his family still remain. He starts each day with an important 20-minute appointment. The meeting is with his 10-year-old daughter. López walks her to school on his way to work, and says the time he spends with his wife and two children are what keep him going forward in the competitive world of the professional-services industry.