Denice Torres: The Hispanic executive-turned-entrepreneur always leading with love

Growing up in a lower-middle class family, Denice Torres learned the values of hard work and education from an early age. 

With a father who became the first Hispanic president of the Gary, Indiana public school system, and a mother who was one of the first certified school nurse practitioners in Indiana, Torres saw firsthand what hard work could produce. 

She took notice of her parents’ accomplishments, despite their situations, and used it to help drive her own commitment towards working hard and achieving her goals. 

“My parents were scrappy and found a way to go to college in their 30s,” she said during an interview with AL DÍA.

Witnessing that level of scrappiness helped Torres in more ways than one throughout her life. 

In addition to hard work and education, sports also played a big role in her life growing up. It was sports that helped her learn about competition. 

At one point during her senior year of high school, one of Torres’ teachers told her that she wasn’t fit for college. 

In connection to her passion for sports, she recalled that that encounter “felt like a shove on the basketball court,” she said. However, “instead of folding, I thought, ‘there is no way I will let her win. Game on.’”

That experience served as a great deal of motivation.

Not only did she go to college, she has since earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ball State University, an MBA in marketing and corporate strategy from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, and a doctorate in law from Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law. 

Leading With Love 

With a goal of making it into corporate America, Torres joined Johnson & Johnson in 2004, after working 14 years at the pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly and Company. 

While working at Johnson & Johnson, the company faced quality and manufacturing issues that impacted some of the most iconic brands, such as Tylenol.

Torres was called upon to lead the charge in transforming and restructuring Johnson & Johnson’s global medical device business. 

That challenge helped Torres develop her personal leadership style ⁠— leading with love, a motto she now lives by. 

“As I moved into leadership positions, I wanted my people to know that I saw them and that they were so important,” said Torres. 

“Leading with love is not being a push-over. It is about accountability, high expectations, encouragement, and honesty,” she added.

Torres’ ability to lead this transformation was significant, and a true testament to her dedication to working hard, her resiliency, and desire to help others. 

“As a Hispanic, gay, woman from Gary, [Indiana], I was an unlikely person to make it to an executive level,” she said. “Along the way, I felt isolated and alone. It was a tough journey.”

However, that journey provided an avenue to create an atmosphere where others didn’t have to feel the way. 

A New Endeavor 

After accomplishing everything she wanted within corporate America and achieving financial freedom, Torres decided she wanted to spend more time at home, while also wanting to make a broader world-wide impact. 

This led to the launch of “The Mentoring Place,” a community-based platform that serves to help women achieve lifelong career goals, success, and fulfillment. 

Pulling from her own experiences, Torres created this new platform to help other women who may be going through similar experiences she did. 

When asked about the value of mentorship, Torres said: “It is critical to success and satisfaction, sponsorship even more so.”

“When we don’t understand the game, we can be naive, inefficient and ineffective,” she added.  

Torres’ favorite part of what she does is getting the chance to interact with others and help them gain more self-confidence. 

“I have the opportunity to change the trajectory of a person’s career and life,” she said. 

To learn more about how “The Mentoring Place” could be of value to you, click here

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