Loida Lewis, the Chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice, LLC, a family investment firm, has an impressive professional background. Holding licenses to practice law in both the Philippines and New York, she achieved a remarkable milestone by becoming the first Asian and Filipino woman to pass the New York bar examination without pursuing legal studies in the United States.
Before assuming her current position, Mrs. Lewis served as a General Attorney at the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, now known as the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, for a decade. During her tenure, she successfully contested a discrimination case against the INS in 1979. Leveraging her expertise, she co-authored the highly acclaimed book “How to Get A Green Card,” now in its 14th edition. Additionally, Mrs. Lewis authored the book “Why Should Guys Have All The Fun?”
Can you share an example of a time when your diverse array of experiences contributed to a creative solution or competitive advantage for your company?
I did not create it but my local partner in Paris created a 7-11 concept-type of a small grocery store where every item was named Leaderprice but tasted like the real thing – Leaderprice Cola, for example, tasted like Coca Cola but was 30% lower in price. It was a very successful concept so I encouraged my partner who owned 45% to continue to open as many stores as possible.
How do you encourage diversity of thought among your team members?
When a question is asked or a problem is on the table during our executive or staff meeting, I listen intently and ask questions so I understand what they are saying. I do not slam them down or shame them, even when their idea or comment does not make sense.
Can you talk about why you are passionate about education on both a personal and professional level?
Having seen how my late husband, Mr Lewis was able to grow up in a working class Black family, to rise up to the highest economic and financial level because of his education at Harvard Law School, I am passionate about education being the key to move out of poverty. For myself, having been able to study before taking the New YorkY Bar Exam enabled me to pass the New YorkY Bar Examination and become a lawyer in the USA, and therefore, saved my career as a lawyer.
Over the years you have many roles, including CEO, attorney, mother, immigration expert, real estate investor, author, and activist. What key lessons have you learned in these roles that you believe are essential for success?
The first lesson I learned was to know my goal and what it is I want to achieve.
I obey a code of ethics; there are no shortcuts by breaking the law. I treat people as I want to be treated. I maintain determination to keep going no matter what.
Each of those three principles spell G – O – D. I believe that with God beside me, nothing is impossible. Everything is possible.
When Mr. Lewis, your husband, passed away you took the reins of the company. What was one of the challenges for you when you became CEO, and conversely one of your successes?
The first challenge was liquidity crises. Headquarters did not have enough cash to pay everyone. My first success was in stabilizing the business by reducing expenses and increasing the income the first year of my being Chair of TLC Béatrice International Holdings Inc.
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