business

Tech Entrepreneur Nina Vaca Goes Global

When we first spoke with Pinnacle Group's Nina Vaca in 2006, her IT business was making millions in revenue. Last year, it reached more than $1 billion.

Then:

Nina Vaca had already built a successful business when she appeared on the cover of Kiplinger's in May 2006. Vaca, who immigrated to Los Angeles from Quito, Ecuador, at age 2, inherited a talent for entrepreneurship from her father. After college she and a partner started Pinnacle Technical Resources in Dallas to recruit tech personnel to run companies' computer systems. She bought out her partner after the tech downturn in 2001, and expanded to provide IT consultants to businesses that had been laying off staff. Revenues were on track to reach $60 million in 2006. Her husband, Jim, and several siblings worked for the company, and her children (then ages 6, 4 and 1, with one on the way) spent plenty of time at the office.

Now:

Vaca's business really took off soon after our article was published. "My life has been transformed in so many ways," says Vaca, now 45. In 2007, Pinnacle Group landed a massive contract that was four times the size of the business. The company now has 155 employees at its Dallas headquarters and about 5,000 consultants throughout the U.S. and Canada, and it exceeded $1 billion in revenues last year.

The charismatic Vaca uses her personality to inspire entrepreneurs around the world, especially women in tech fields. She was only the second woman to chair the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and in 2014 the Obama administration appointed her as a presidential ambassador for global entrepreneurship. She's particularly proud of mentoring a woman from Vietnam and one from Jordan, both of whom spent time at Pinnacle and are now CEOs of successful companies back home. She recently launched Ninavaca.com to give other entrepreneurs resources for expanding their businesses.

Vaca's husband and siblings are still involved in the company, as are several nieces and nephews, and her children -- now ages 17, 15, 12 and 11 -- are starting to help out, just as she did in the chain of travel agencies owned by her father.

Vaca also applies her nonstop work ethic to her training as a triathlete. After last year's devastating earthquake in Ecuador, her mother called her and asked, "What are you going to do about Ecuador?" So this year, she competed in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon to raise money to build houses for displaced families in her native country. "My parents were entrepreneurs and civic leaders, and I've done both my entire life," she says. "I've always been passionate about my family and business, and this success has allowed me to give back."

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