UCLA to Become a Hispanic-Serving Institution by 2025
25% of undergraduate students must identify as Hispanic or Latinx
Grounded in Equity, Justice and Community
UCLA Anderson Forecast Supports Economists from Diverse Backgrounds
At UCLA Anderson, Tech and Social Awareness Go Hand in Hand
A Diversity of Career Resources
Max Olivares (’21) encourages incoming MBAs to ask questions
A (Virtual) Day in the Life
DaVita summer intern Rosa Segura (’21) teams up for social responsibility
The Most Critical Conversation
Melissa Noriega (’23) chose Anderson FEMBA for a crucial career pivot
A Global Perspective on Social Impact
Anderson MBA Lizzeth Rosales (’20) envisions a more equitable world
Diego Reyes (’05) Brings Help Where It’s Needed in the Pandemic
Opportunity Zones investor gets behind One Anderson Student Relief Fund
Elenita Mezcal Differentiates Itself in a Fast-Growing Market
BusinessBecause profiled entrepreneurs incubating their company in the UCLA Anderson Venture Accelerator
When I applied to UCLA Anderson, I felt extremely welcomed by all Bruins, especially the members of the Latin American Business Association (LABA). I managed to build strong connections, which helped me starting from the application process until accepting a full-time job offer. As a Latin American woman from Brazil, I knew that a collaborative community, a supportive career center and vibrant city were key for my MBA experience, and I found all this at UCLA Anderson. The Parker Career Management Center has been extremely supportive during the recruitment process, and it was essential for my success in finding a job in a new country where I wasn’t familiar with the networking, recruiting and offer-negotiation processes. Los Angeles is a really welcoming city, and that’s a big part of the experience at Anderson. I am glad I have a huge community that supports me. As co-president of LABA, I welcome every student to our club, making sure we are showing our culture and values and having a positive impact on their MBA experience. We have partnered with other clubs, and I am excited about the coming year and all the great events we are planning.
Gabriella Eliezer (’23),
Co-President, Latin American Business Association
President, Marketing Association
People at Anderson want to give back within their community and to students interested in getting an MBA. When I was looking at business schools, I really benefited from attending the Latin American Business Conference as a UCLA undergraduate. Members of ALMA — the student organization I now help lead — went above and beyond to review my essay and make sure that I was having a good experience during the application and interview process. They reached out to me during the pandemic, and I think it spoke well of the culture. The Latinx culture is strong here, we can rely on our network to support us. Every one of our members is also part of some other organization, and they will invite you to different events that you’re not as familiar with. That’s what makes Anderson great. You have that familiar space, but also those connections across the broader community.
Yitsac Sandoval (B.A. ’18, ’23)
Co-President, Alliance for Latinx Management at Anderson
Alejandra Perez (’22)
Founder, IMA Blends
Alumna, Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson
Entrepreneur Alejandra Perez (’22) holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Universidad Simon Bolivar, Venezuela’s No. 1 engineering school. She represented her school at Harvard’s Model United Nations conferences in Singapore and Vancouver. At UCLA Anderson, she served as president of the Entrepreneur Association and mentored high school and college students in the Riordan Programs, which provide a pathway for young people in underrepresented groups to excel in business education and leadership.
With this broad, international reach, Perez is certain of one thing: nursing mothers the world over face exhaustion and flagging nutrition. “Motherhood is a bumpy ride,” she says. “I could not keep up with my baby’s appetite and felt guilty. I was desperate for a solution.” So she pioneered IMA Blends, a line of healthy “lactation snacks” for moms at every stage, including preconception, pregnancy, postpartum, nursing and beyond.
Alejandra Perez: 2022 Rising Latinx Founder to Watch
“I immigrated from Venezuela in 2014 with no guarantees and meager life savings. Even though I had no contacts, I networked incessantly and found my first engineering job that later turned into sales and marketing, jump-starting my future business career. My story is one of resilience, constant evolution and success. My Latinx background and overcoming adversity made me realize that I could achieve anything I set my mind to, as long as I did it with love and purpose. And as I become successful, I intend to help as many others as possible along the way.”
Alejandra Perez (’22)
Founder, IMA Blends
Overcoming adversity made me realize that I could achieve anything I set my mind to, as long as I did it with love and purpose.
When you incubated your startup in the Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson, what were the main resources and lessons that informed your company launch?
I completed the Accelerator’s summer 2022 Activate program, where we had weekly sessions with industry experts and successful entrepreneurs, and met with a team of lawyers who guided us in business law. The most valuable aspect of the Accelerator is its community, and being able to reach out to others who have launched before. For instance, a fellow Accelerator founder introduced me to a food scientist he had worked with. This introduction was pivotal to my CPG business, IMA Blends. The scientist helped me develop my product, source ingredients and find the best co-packer to manufacture it. The Accelerator has also provided very useful feedback to my pitch and helped me fine-tune it.
Have you secured funding to back your startup? What have you learned about raising capital?
So far, I’ve used my own savings to get started. My next steps include a crowdfunding campaign and a pre-seed round. I have also been applying for grants for new entrepreneurs. This fall, I will launch a Kickstarter campaign — stay tuned, I will need all the help I can get to bring my product to consumers in early 2023!
Raising capital tests our resilience, since we constantly face rejection. However, I’ve learned that finding investors is mostly about qualifying them first, researching online and asking as many questions as possible before scheduling a meeting. It’s easy to feel as if you are making progress by booking meetings, and it’s nice to feel validated. Your business might be exciting, and the investor might love it, but they won’t invest if it does not match their portfolio or their profile. Truth is, most investors will agree to talk even if they are not planning on investing, because they are curious about what founders are doing. Save your time and energy for the important meetings and tasks.
What in your background prepared you to become an entrepreneur?
I grew up in Venezuela, a once prosperous country that has been facing a socioeconomic crisis and turmoil for the past two decades. I had the wonderful opportunity to start a more auspicious career in the U.S., but before doing so, I wanted to provide financial support to my parents, so I started a transport business that they would operate. This was my first entrepreneurial experience, which happened more by chance than by planning. I continued with my career as a chemical engineer, and then transitioned into sales and marketing. I kept thinking of my days as an entrepreneur but was not sure what kind of business I could create, or how to start. As I was starting to consider an MBA, I became a mother. I took a year off to focus on this stage, and felt firsthand the pressure to juggle that new role with a career. I then discovered that my “why” was to help mothers achieve their full potential.
I realized that the MBA was the missing piece that would lead me to discover my “how,” to bring my business idea/solution into reality. At Anderson, I learned from peers and faculty, polished my skill set, grew my network and utilized school resources to launch a business that would support women throughout motherhood, I hope setting an example and blazing a path for other young women and mothers.
Will you continue as a serial entrepreneur?
My biggest motivation is to help others. I am passionate about finding ways to make other people’s lives easier in some way, and figuring out how a product or brand can address a pain point or bring joy into someone’s daily life. On the macro level, I see my entrepreneurial journey and what I am learning today as the stepping stone to becoming a mentor to others in the future, helping someone else’s vision come become reality.
On the micro level, I started IMA Blends wanting to help other moms who are struggling in their motherhood journey. I experienced first hand specific nutritional needs and discomfort, nausea, constipation and milk supply problems when breastfeeding — plus the pressure to be the perfect mother. I slowly discovered ways to make the journey easier, and I want to help other women achieve their full potential.
What was the most valuable lesson in business school you feel like you can apply every day to developing your own company and products?
Business school trained me to handle many things at once and to divide big projects into smaller tasks to tackle so I could succeed at the end. The MBA experience was one of overcoming adversity, starting from my application process. I struggled to achieve the GMAT score I needed to get accepted. Then, as a mother (especially during the first half of the pandemic when schools and daycare were closed), I had to push myself to work while parenting and juggling what felt like thousands of projects at the same time: academics, staying highly involved in the Anderson community (including student leadership roles) and recruiting for brand management internships. Every single day, I had to push myself to keep on going, and that is something that has served me in my entrepreneurial journey.
Another lesson is that half of the work is just showing up. Go to that event and bring all your enthusiasm and best self. You never know who you might meet when you go.
Michael Vilardo (’21)
President and Co-Founder, Subject
LATAM Gold Medalist, Colombian National Hockey Team
Alumnus, Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson
Serial entrepreneur Michael Vilardo (’21) took the pulse of the TikTok generation to launch EdTech startup Subject (formerly Emile Learning), which has earned more than $5 million in seed funding. Vilardo and his Latinx co-founders, Felix Ruano and Jon Quiros, made headlines for changing e-learning’s status quo.
EdTech Startup Takes the Pulse of the TikTok Generation
Latinx-Founded Edtech Platform Raises $5.3M in Seed Funding
EdTech Emile Learning Bets It Can Make High School Students Study, Not Scroll
In Their Words
“Many young people in our community don’t have someone in their lives who knows how to help them get on the road to success.”
“Even a small modification can have huge impacts on your bottom line.”
UCLA Anderson’s senior manager of academic services and operations Patty Gonzalez Johnson (B.A. ’99, Riordan Scholar ’02, CERT ’21) pursued Anderson’s Executive Certificate in Leadership and Management as part of her decades-long commitment to the MBA students she serves. “I knew that I would gain so much from the content of the course,” she says. “What surprised me was how much I learned about myself and my leadership style.”
“Think about the destination, but do not forget about the journey.”
Luis Alcazar’s (’23) journey to becoming auditor in charge at the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General entailed his service in the U.S. Army as well as work for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Born in Long Beach and fluent in Spanish, Luis chose Anderson for his MBA experience because he wanted to become part of UCLA’s vast international network of highly driven professionals.
“The nuances of my culture can make it feel like I’m not ‘American’ enough.”
For Rosa Segura (’21), the expression “ni de aquí, ni de allá” (neither here nor there) sums up her cultural experience as an American with Mexican roots. As a b-school applicant, Rosa was invigorated to meet a critical mass of other Latinx students during UCLA Anderson’s Embracing Diversity Week and, when she became a UCLA Anderson student, she in turn helped orient prospective MBAs who straddle national identities like she does. In her second year, she served as president of the student-run Alliance for Latinx Management at Anderson.
“How great would it be if we unlocked each person’s potential?”
“Here at Anderson, we really are an ecosystem and we all support each other in different ways.”
Coming from the creative side of public relations, communications professional Marcella Thompkins (’23) enrolled in UCLA Anderson’s Fully Employed MBA program to fill in gaps in her knowledge about the business side. She is building a solid foundation in finance and strategy, but finds that Anderson’s challenging curriculum offers so much more, and she looks forward to continuing to take classes that are outside her comfort zone. “No matter how difficult the course is,” she says, “I have so many incredible resources surrounding me and so many brilliant classmates to learn from.” Now manager of fine wines at Constellation Brands, Marcella says, “I can honestly say this program has impacted my career immeasurably. This program is the very reason I have the job that I have today.”
“I always wanted to start a business ... Brewing is an alternative career in chemistry.”
What’s it like to come to the United States with no undergraduate degree, earn a Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech, publish more than 45 peer-reviewed articles, pivot to brewing beer and then embark on your MBA? With credit for contributing to prize-winning research by two Nobel laureates, alumnus Diego Benitez (’19) founded Progress Brewing in South El Monte, California, in 2012. The former academic, now a successful full-time businessman, said as an Anderson student, “FEMBA is one of the best decisions of my life.”
Award-winning instruction in diversity and organizational behavior
“It is often said that perception is reality. My research explores the psychological motivations that underlie people’s perceptions of diversity-related phenomena in the present day.”
Senior Associate Dean of MBA Programs and Professor of Management and Organizations
Diversity: Measuring How and Why Groups See It Differently
Perceived differences between “diverse” and “sufficiently diverse”
White Men Admire a Company That Employs White Women
But White Men, seeing African American women employed, don’t react so favorably
From The Blog
¿Cuál es el Problema Exactamente?
His goal is not to teach students how to “win” every negotiation, but rather to identify what they want out of negotiations to achieve their goals, as well as to know when to walk away
Organizations Have Committed to Better Representation, But Really?
Founders: Jordan Dil ('19), Mikel Noriega ('19)
Elenita is America's first mezcal ready-to-drink cocktail in a can, giving consumers an entry point into the world of mezcal. The company won the 2019 Knapp Venture Competition, taking home the $50,000 grand prize.
Founders: Pablo Osorio Martini ('19), Joe Upchurch ('19)
Another Venture Accelerator success story, ClearClub provides teeth-grinders with custom night guards for 90% lower prices than dentists through its direct to consumer subscription service.
Latin American Business Association (LABA)
Through a broad offering of professional and social events, the Latin American Business Association (LABA) aims to showcasing the region’s diverse cultures and business opportunities for the mutual benefit of our members and the broader Anderson community.
The Alliance for Latinx Management at Anderson (ALMA)
ALMA is committed to building a diverse, inclusive and collaborative space to promote fellowship and professional development while celebrating American Latinx culture.
Confront on One Prejudice — and Reduce Overall Bigotry
Whites reprimanded for using a Black stereotype express fewer biases about Latinx people and women
A Proposal to Improve Surge Pricing
Reduce fares in adjacent areas to draw more drivers to where demand is high
When Lenders Put a Muzzle on Borrowers
Companies hide from shareholders information about loans — more than likely to appease banks
White Men Admire a Company That Employs White Women
But White Men, seeing African American women employed, don’t react so favorably
Modern Monetary Theory: Fiasco in Latin America, Option in U.S.?
The populist model, embraced by some on the American left, resembles policy that helped torpedo some smaller economies
Cultures That Delay Gratification: Their Immigrants to the U.S. Excel in School
The benefit to students increases over time
Sizing Up the Measurable Good of Affirmative Action
An economic model sets aside who loses and focuses on efficiency and overall growth
Through the Minimum Wage Looking Glass: Economic Consensus Unrealized
Researchers struggle with faulty study designs, flyspecking each other’s work, re-arguing decades of debate about jobs and income
When Manufacturers Commence Exporting, They Become More Efficient
Looking at costs, in a sample of 5,000 plants in Chile, remarkable productivity gains occur
Director of Compliance and Operations, Environmental Charter Schools
Vice President of Consumer Operations, Evidation Health
Associate Vice President of Marketing, Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds, The Wonderful Company
Senior Vice President of Release Planning and Business Operations, NBCUniversal Inc.
Providing a pathway for underrepresented students to excel in business and leadership
Tomorrow's leaders emerge from a transformational experience with Riordan mentors, educational workshops and community service. The Riordan Scholars Program, College to Career Program and MBA Fellows Program provide leadership and management training to diverse individuals all over the country.
Riordan podcast episodes
Riordan Scholars Alum Class of 2007
Topic: Graduation Day
Diversity at UCLA
Graduate education at UCLA couldn’t have reached the heights it has without a full commitment to welcoming and fostering the diverse population that today thrives on our campus.
Toigo’s mission is to foster the career advancement and increased leadership of underrepresented talent by creating mechanisms for greater inclusion, from the classroom to the boardroom.
UCLA LGBTQ Resource Center
Fostering unity and wellness, UCLA’s LGBTQ Resource Center provides education and advocacy services to support intersectional identity development in an open, safe, inclusive environment.