Make It Your Business

ABOUT Sylvia M. Montero

Sylvia M. Montero
Sylvia Montero has over 30 years of experience in Human Resources and retired as Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Pfizer Inc, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. Sylvia was born in Puerto Rico and her parents moved the family to New York City in 1957. She is a graduat More...



In Make It Your Business, Sylvia Montero tells the story of her journey from the plantation shack in Puerto Rico and the Projects of the Lower East Side to a Human Resources career at Pfizer Inc which she capped by becoming the highest ranking Latina in the history of the company, as head of global Human Resources. 

Sylvia narrates her linear story highlighting the situations that most challenged her as a young girl and a young woman: immigration, learning a second language, being a minority, poverty, failed marriage, single motherhood, failure, and layoff.

She condenses a 30+ year career in Human Resources into themes that illustrate how to climb the Corporate Ladder: Self-Confidence, Performance, Organizational Savvy, Presentation of Self and Leadership, adding a special section on issues unique to gender. Sylvia jam-packs her narrative with candid stories of successes and setbacks.

With a goal to convince others to reach beyond their dreams, Sylvia’s reflections translate to portable tools for how to succeed in Corporate America. 

Sylvia’s story is inspirational. Her career advice is sound and presented in an easy to understand and apply format. This is a book that anyone interested in creating a successful life and career should read.” ~ Bud Bilanich, The Common Sense Guy

Bud Bilanich wrote a blog post on his site: “Make It Your Business — Great New Career Advice Book

As a former report to Sylvia, I can tell you first hand that Sylvia’s leadership was the most inspirational I have personally witnessed in corporate America. She led by example, humble, caring yet she set high, stretch goals for all of us to achieve. These goals were highly motivating because Sylvia let you do your job, gave you confidence and provided the necessary resources. She is a model of integrity and her words are her bond. The story of advancing from very modest beginnings to the highest position in her field at the world’s largest pharmaceutical company is an inspiration story that needs to be heard in every MBA program. It is a story that makes America great.” ~ Bill Belknap

I found this book to be one of the best inspirational / educational reads I have picked up in quite a while. It’s directness and the fact it is written based on the writer’s personal experience and success is invaluable. It will remain in my library as a must read for all of my direct reports. It has certainly provided me with a ‘jump start’ to my own career path and the methods in which I plan to achieve my present and future goals. Excellent work! A must read for anyone in today’s high pressure, fast paced corporate world.” ~ MSWayne

This book is an easy read with many `not so easy’ lessons about life and career. Sylvia’s personal stories – tough lessons including both successes and failures – bring to life what is an excellent primer for climbing the corporate ladder and for overcoming personal challenges. It’s a modern day, inspiring tale of the Great American Dream. A must read for everyone.” ~ Mike Taylor

I’ve known Sylvia for over 30 years. I am honored to say I know her. She struggled so much and yet she never gave up. Her story is incrediable. You have to read it. I read it in two days. Her journey from Puerto Rico to New York is unbelievable. This is a must read book for all ages. Her family must be so proud. She was the highest paid Latina at Pfizer Inc., in the history of the company. Just goes to show you that your dreams can come true.” ~ Angeline Napolitano

No one I have read comes closer to this common saying. Faced with difficult situations that may have turned others away from their dreams, Sylvia just kept working harder at it. And from all of that hard work she has drawn some valuable lessons that she shares with us. The leadership principles that she develops in the book are applicable regardless of your position or your goals. The book is, I would think, especially inspirational for women of color. In spite of all the negative messages she received as a child and as an adult, Sylvia worked her way through all of it to have a highly successful career. And the value of the book is that she shows us how to succeed, too. A great read.” ~ Don Nelson

I enjoyed reading the book “Make It Your Business: Dare to Climb the Ladder of Leadership” very much. It is a heart warming, rags to riches, story of possibilities, through hard work, education and perseverance. I would recommend this book to all College bound students, the emphasis on self esteem, overcoming obstacles and keeping your self respect will benefit all teenagers, contemplating their future. I wish I read this book, 30 years ago, it is quite inspirational. Kudos to the author!” ~ Momara

I was one of the people who started Ms. Montero on her climb to the top. The book is fantastic to say the least. I always new that Sylvia would do well. Her desire to work and her effectiveness in building a team was evident early in her career at Pfizer. The book is a primer for anyone who feels that they will never achieve their goals because of their background. Ms. Montero clearly shows that with drive what one can accomplish. This is a must read. Every high school senior and college student needs to read this book.” ~ Cal Jobe

Sylvia Montero’s story is one of the most inspirational and compelling examples of “The American Dream” that I have ever encountered. It was hard for me to imagine the difficult conditions of her early childhood in Puerto Rico, where the only “luxuries” Montero and her siblings had was the overriding love and exemplary parenting from their young mother and father. Hers is a story of faith, courage, ambition, confidence, determination, education, and fine parenting triumphing over poverty, language barriers, and discrimination (gender, age, social, and cultural). Though Montero’s book is certainly a must-read for aspiring women and Latinos, as a male WASP I remained riveted through the story of her rise from the sugar cane fields to the boardroom, as well as the deftly presented life lessons that follow, each enhanced by her own fascinating experiences. Faced with many more obstacles than all but a few Americans, Montero chose to be a victor, not a victim — and her story and suggestions are worthy of anyone’s few hours.” ~ Gregory K. Marshall

I truly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to be successful in a big organization but doesn’t want to read a formal business book. I am really not a fan of sitting down and reading a book but this book held my attention and I enjoyed it. Sylvia Montero’s narrative is filled with engaging stories that easily link to tangible reflections. Her modern-day rags-to-riches story is inspiring. It really does show you that anything is possible as long as you don’t give up, continue to fight through and believe you can achieve anything you set your mind to.” ~ Ken Soto

I thought Ms. Montero did a wonderful job linking leadership ideals with real examples and then tying it all back with her personal story. I found myself identifying at many of the leadership pitfalls and solutions throughout the examples given in each section. I hope to get my fellow management team to read this and begin to actively work on many of the suggestions given at the end of each section. “Make it Your Business” provides valuable lessons no matter where you are in your career. I think it can provide those just starting out key princples to apply as they learn the corporate ropes and it can help the seasoned leader be better.” ~ Robyn A

Sylvia Montero embodies the American Dream. Born in Puerto Rico, she moved with her family to the US as a young girl. Her parents worked hard to provide for their five children and hammered home the importance of education. Overcoming tremendous hurdles, Sylvia worked hard, received a scholarship to Barnard, finished her degree and embarked on a career, as a single parent no less, that led her to become the head of Human Resources for one of the world’s largest companies. She couples her personal history with life lessons that are of tremendous value to anyone starting a career or seeking career advancement. What a wonderful book!” ~ John LaMattina