Mike Fernandez: Power List 2014

Corporate VP, corporate affairs, Cargill

2014 rank: 30
2013 rank: 42

By Oscar Suris, EVP, corporate communications, Wells Fargo

Mike Fernandez is many things – a PR pro, a government relations expert, a seasoned political operative, a strategic thinker with influence in boardrooms and C-suites, and a pioneer, having distinguished himself as one of the first Hispanics to serve in a CCO role.

Even before embarking on a PR career, Mike gained fame as one of the youngest professionals – and the first Hispanic – to serve as a press secretary on Capitol Hill. His professional influence has only grown as he has paid forward his good career fortunes by promoting diversity and inclusion across our profession.

Sometimes, he has lent his time and sponsorship dollars to industry-wide initiatives led by organizations such as The Lagrant Foundation, which promotes the development of diverse communications and marketing talent.

Other times, it has been through the kind of one-on-one mentoring one expects from a trusted adviser. I was a lucky beneficiary of Mike’s counsel when he mentored me through a particular career crossroad.

He was generous with his time, shared stories of his own career highs and lows, and his contacts. Above all, he listened, giving this mid-career pro a safe place to talk through what the future might bring.

Indeed, it is fitting that last year The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations recognized Mike with a Milestones in Mentoring honor for the many careers he has influenced through his leadership. Lucky for us, this adviser to CEOs and elected officials also believes in helping fellow PR pros succeed, no matter what power they possess.

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