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Winning With Women Wednesday: An Interview With Ana Hinojosa, Director of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Compliance and Facilitation Directorate

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Today, is Winning with Women Wednesday and over the past few weeks we had the opportunity to speak with Ana Hinojosa, who was recently elected to the position of Director of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Compliance and Facilitation Directorate.  Ana will be assuming the post on January 1, 2016.

Ana Hinojosa, Director of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Compliance and Facilitation Directorate

Ana Hinojosa, Director of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Compliance and Facilitation Directorate

Get To Know Ana:

Ana B. Hinojosa has 28 years of border related expertise, most of these in leadership positions. She has held leadership positions in several large international airports and land border locations along the US/Mexico border.  Her most recent assignments were the Director of Field Operations for the El Paso Field Office from 2008-2013, where she was the principal field manager for the Office of Field Operations of Customs and Border Protection in the El Paso/New Mexico area and the Area Port Director at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW), respectively, from 2002 to 2008.

Since 2013, Ms. Hinojosa has served as Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) for the Office of International Affairs in Customs and Border Protection (CBP.) She is responsible for coordinating and supporting all of CBP’s foreign initiatives, programs and activities, and for developing and executing CBP’s international strategies. She is also responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with internal and external partners, providing foreign partners’ capacity building and technical assistance, and championing the development of global trade and travel standards to promote the United States Government’s objectives in anti-terrorism, border security, customs, immigration, and facilitation of legitimate trade and travel.

Throughout her adult life, she has been a member and served in leadership positions of a number of non-profit organizations, such as Salvation Army, Rotary International, Kiwanis, and Federal Executive Boards. She has also served as an official and unofficial mentor for leadership candidates in and out of her government agency. She currently serves as the President for the Executive Women in Government organization.

1. Ana, I know our readers would love to know, in your own words, what drew you to working for the government, in particular the Office of International U.S. Customs and Border Protection?

Honestly, I truly fell in love with the work. Throughout my childhood my mother had instilled within all of her children, a hard work ethic where everyone should always be open to jumping in and helping.

2. Can you please describe what your role as the Office of International Affairs U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deputy Assistant Commissioner embodies…What are your main responsibilities and duties?

When you work for the CBP you sign up to being part of a team that assists in being the guardians to the nation’s borders. Some of my main responsibilities include:

  • Managing and enforcing immigration rules
  • Preventing weapons of terrorism from entering our country by securing and managing our border
  • Participating in international engagement that helps to ensure international trade stays safe
  • Assist in dialogue with foreign governments which help them to better enforce our laws and theirs
  • Create mutual recognition agreements
    • For example: Trust/Travel Programs
  • Facilitate conversations where vital information is exchanged to enhance global relations

3. Was it hard being a woman and climbing your way to the top to achieve your current position? If so, how did you overcome the challenges i.e. support from fellow co-workers, strong desire to succeed…? If not, have there been other women who have held your current position?

Actually, I started my career in government as a GS-4. Since then I have relocated many times and even downgraded twice. The downgrades I chose to take were due to what made sense for my family at the time. I appreciate those hard decisions I made along the way as I feel I may not have the current opportunities I have today had it not been for them.

Also, I am the first Hispanic female candidate that has even been selected for the Post of Director, Compliance and Facilitation, for the World Customs Organization.

4. If you had a single piece of advice for other women looking to succeed in government organizations, what would you tell them?

I would say, “Raise your hand.” This means, challenge yourself to roles that may be out of your scope, open yourself to see opportunity in completing tasks others don’t want to do, and never be afraid to ask questions.

“Raising my hand” has been a theme throughout my professional career and has opened so many new adventures and opportunities for me. My hope is that others will follow this mindset and be ready for the journey to take place.

5. When hiring, what are the three top skills you believe are the best assets for women to have, when looking to start a career in the government?

• They should be a great communicator.
• Should want to see others succeed.
• Never be afraid to ask questions.

6. Who was an influential boss/mentor for you and what lessons did he/she teach you?

My mother, Maria Encarnación, was an influential mentor in my life. She was a seamstress and lived a hard life in Mexico and in the US. She taught me the importance of integrity, hard work, and especially family.

7. How would you characterize your own management style?

My personal management style is centered around making a personal connection with everyone I manage. I feel you must build bridges so others have the ability to join you and succeed as well. This is sometimes much easier said than done.

8. What are the biggest challenges facing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today?

Currently, we have over 44,000 law enforcement personnel. However, one of our obstacles is that we have a small percentage of women who currently occupy these roles.

9. Over the next five years, what will the initiatives/goals of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) evolve into?

There are many new opportunities and challenges on the horizon, and bottomline, CBP will have to be nimble and be innovative to deal with these.

10. What is it about your current role, for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) that makes you eager to come to work every day?

I enjoy the opportunities to travel, the fact that every day is different, and feel as if a new adventure is waiting to be embarked upon as I walk through the door.

11. What does it take for you to have a “Good Day” at work?

I think that when I feel like I have contributed or made a difference, then I feel like I have had a good day.

12. What do you do to unwind from a hectic day?

It depends, but I generally drive home and during that drive, I call my mom.  I have a handsfree system in my car.  I have a 45 min drive, and it is a perfect time to catch up with her.  

When I get home I try to have dinner with my family and then either catch up on some favorite TV shows, get together with friends, or just try to get a couple chores done.  Either way, they are different than the things I am working on during the day, so it really gives my brain and stress level a break.

13. If you had extra time to commit yourself to just one more thing in your busy day, what would it be?

I would definitely spend more time exercising.   I love Zumba, yoga, and even just walking….I need to commit more time to this.

You can learn more about Ana Hinojosa by: Clicking Here

Also, you can show your support for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol by “Following” them on Twitter: @CustomsBorder

If you have a Winning Woman you think would be great to feature, or spotlight use the hashtag #WinningWithWomen on Twitter and we will be certain to contact you.

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