Alumni Profile - Business Leader Pablo Quintanilla

Business Leader Pablo Quintanilla is an alumnus of the Leadership CORPS Class of 2023.

In this interview, Business leader Pablo Quintanilla shares the ways that the Leadership CORPS Program impacted him.

After completing Leadership CORPS, what are you most grateful for?

I am most grateful that Leadership CORPS increased the depth and the breath of my perspective. For me, at this stage of my life, it’s not only about learning in any one area or topic. It’s about gaining the understanding of how trends and data points intersect, so I can also know how and when I can influence them.

Leadership CORPS also gave me a much stronger network of leaders from across San Mateo County that I can learn from, reach out to for support, and champion.

What did you take away from Leadership CORPS?

Participating in Leadership CORPS broadened my perspective by a “step change,” not simply an incremental change. It leaped me forward and provided me with perspective about how people where I live engage (or often struggle to engage) effectively with County organizations and services.

Leadership CORPS put me at the right elevation to get an insider’s look at who makes consequential decisions that impact hundreds of thousands of people. This is really unique knowledge to gain.

Leadership CORPS is a 10-month commitment. Is it worth the time for busy leaders?

Yes, it was a big commitment for me and for my family, but it was absolutely worth it! Growing your leadership is about recognizing where you can drive impact, even if it’s outside of your day-to-day work. The more ambiguous the problem, the more of an opportunity for impact. 

I learned a lot about how San Mateo County works, its pressures, and the needs of its residents. While I don’t work in a function that interacts with civic organizations on a daily basis, I gained important knowledge about the scale, resources and speed with which it needs to move to support hundreds of thousands of people. Leadership CORPS presents the issues facing people in the County and allowed me to recognize their similarities independent of the issue area.

As a leader working in business, I am more aware now than ever before of the symbiotic relationship between government, private business, and nonprofits. I am now better at recognizing when they’re working in parallel and when they’re intersecting in rich and mutually beneficial ways. This is an invaluable perspective.

As a leader working in business, I am more aware now than ever before of the symbiotic relationship between government, private business, and nonprofits.

During the CORPS program you worked on a community action team focused on farmworker housing in San Mateo County. How was your project experience?

I came into Leadership CORPS wanting to learn about equity challenges and opportunities in San Mateo County. As part of our community work, our CORPS team investigated the different points of view related to farmworker housing in District 3. We interviewed farmworkers, farm owners, members of government, and farmworker advocates.

We gained several key learnings. We discovered that farmworker housing is a collective action problem, that is, one that requires cooperation among many stakeholders to see results. Our CORPS team gained an understanding and appreciation of the scope and size of the farmworker community, the housing gaps, and the role that farm owners, the County, and other organizations can play to meet those needs. 

It was also clear to us that the farmworkers were an underserved group, and our CORPS team looked at how we could be helpful by surfacing the needs to the County, and highlighting County programs to farmworkers and to farm owners. Our project was short-term, but we used our learnings to facilitate dialogue among the stakeholders, sharing information we had learned with all parties.

It was a fantastic project. Our CORPS team built strong bonds by working together on a common cause.

How do you see Leadership CORPS impacting your future?

As I mentioned earlier, I view growing in leadership as a step-by-step process, and the CORPS program helped me deepen my understanding of the people problems we must address for people in San Mateo County to call this place their home. Independent of where I work, I’ll always be active in our civic space. It’s a passion for me, and while I didn’t plan it when I started CORPS last fall, CORPS has positioned and inspired me to do more, all while keeping people's needs and problems front and center.

What else would you like to share about your Leadership CORPS experience?

The Leadership CORPS program is an opportunity for people to learn how it is they can serve. Through the leadership skills component, the program enables people to expand their leadership potential. It positions CORPS participants to recognize more clearly where they might have a greater impact in the lives of others.