MEET JUDITH DUVAL, PIONEERING CHANGE IN STRESS MANAGEMENT
Judith Duval W’03 is originally from the Dominican Republic and came to the US as a teenager. While quickly learning English and a new culture, she faced daily racism, marginalization, bullying, and domestic violence.
Despite these challenges, Judith says that her life has turned out to be a dream. She did her undergraduate work at Wharton and has an MBA from Stanford. She’s worked for some of the most prestigious and enriching international organizations like JPMorgan, Citigroup, Bain, Sephora. She’s traveled the world and has deepened and honed her wellness and leadership skills through years of trainings and certifications. Most importantly, she says, she has built a beautiful family with her husband.
Judith was once on a job interview with someone who had heard snippets of her story. He had heard her speak of being called a monkey by classmates when she first arrived in the United States, about living in such terror that going to the supermarket was a stressful experience, and feeling confused when her courageous mother took her to visit colleges, since $45K a year (at that time) seemed out of reach for a single parent family who couldn’t afford to purchase McDonald’s on the road trip to the school. In his job offer he stated ‘I want you on my team because you are a game changer. You take what you get and you change the game, you change the rules, and you change the outcome’.
As an immigrant who saw her family memberS and her community struggle with stress, wellness and health, Judith realized that not only were they unaware of how to improve their health/wellness, but the tools that did exist were not adapted to the lives that many Hispanics and immigrants live in the US.
Judith has built a stress management and wellness company that offers enriching tech-enabled tools, education and programs for Spanish-speaking employees to decrease stress and improve their overall health and well-being. These management tools are proven to reduce stress levels by 50–75%, participation satisfaction ratings are top notch with a 92.9 NPS, and the stress management program ranks among the highest program completion rates at 90%.
Tell us a bit about your company
We are a stress management and wellness company that offers enriching tech enabled tools, education and programs for Spanish-speaking employees that decrease stress and improve overall health and wellbeing.
What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
As a Dominican woman who is passionate about health and wellness, I saw a lot of this missing in my community. I thus embarked in identifying what were the most impactful shifts a person within the community could make to improve their health and wellness, delivering these in the best way to them (text msg), and looking for who would purchase + care about this population (employers of Hispanics; enterprises in the hospitality, restaurant, and retail industries).
What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?
I am an immigrant who has seen a lot of her family members struggle with their stress, wellness and health. Unusual as it is, I have begun to put these first and this has helped me finally achieve my American Dream. Unfortunately many do not know how to do this and the tools that are out there now are not adapted to the life that many Hispanics and immigrants live in the United States. My company is that bridge and the power in that fuels my passion for this venture.
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
Win: Our tech enabled stress management tools are proven to reduce stress levels by 50–75%, participation satisfaction ratings are top notch with a 92.9 NPS, and the stress management program ranks among the highest program completion rates at 90%
Win: Though I am B2B, B2C is very important as they pull forward the product (employees ask for this benefit to their employers), thus for a long time I did a lot of on-camera TV at Univision. I would do the morning show, the evening news, etc. I even had a weekly TV segment at Estrella TV!
Encouraging experiences: Before the pandemic started I began speaking to GM’s at local hotels in Silicon Valley (where I am based). The enthusiasm for their staff is incredibly encouraging. The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic; but there lies a lot of opportunity, both in the need for stress management now and the need for wellness as this industry bounces back.
What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?
It is OK to start, pause, keep going, pause, accelerate, slow down. My background (Wharton undergrad, finance, Stanford B-School) had taught me to just GO all the time. I have been humbled by not only entrepreneurship, but also becoming a mother to two beautiful boys throughout this journey. “Doing it all” is possible, it just doesn’t look the way we have been told it should. We feel so lost in this entrepreneurial journey because less women than men embark on it, and we don’t hear the “entire picture” journey stories from these women.
What is an obstacle that you are grappling with as you continue to build this venture?
Enterprise sales has long lead times; this will always be the case. I just sold into a small Spanish immersion school; that’s a win. The work to sell into a big retailer or hotel chain requires more patience.
What surprises have you encountered as an entrepreneur? Something out of left field?
How much smarter I’ve gotten. Sometimes you think that what you are working on isn’t a big deal, until you talk to your friend who works in the marketing department at a big company and you realize that you are not only working on her responsibilities, but you are also doing the biz dev, product management and development, strategy, fnce, etc. It’s an incredibly powerful moment.
How can the WAFFA community help you?
Help me identify companies that have Spanish first employees and who care about their health and wellness!