Riordan Profile Noel Varela

Noel Varela (EMBA ’25)

Program Manager, Drata

Riordan MBA Fellows Program, 2021

What was the main educational or professional benefit you gained from the Riordan MBA Fellows Program?

When I was a Riordan MBA Fellow, I was balancing part-time service in the U.S. Navy Reserve, where I led counterintelligence operations for an NCIS unit. Halfway through the program, I felt prepared to explore my transition to a civilian career. The Riordan MBA Fellows Program was a game changer. It gave me confidence in my business school application preparation, which led to my matriculation in UCLA Anderson’s Executive MBA Class of 2025.

What was the career move you made after separating from the military, and where do you think you’ll take it next?

I’m now a program manager at Drata, a cybersecurity/tech startup. I graduated from the Riordan MBA Fellows Program with a new sense of comfort in chaos and improved leadership awareness, as well as a growing appetite for entrepreneurship. So I jumped from active duty into the business startup world.

While I’m earning my MBA, I’ll continue to progress in the cybersecurity space, and I also want to launch a startup of my own focused on the lives of veterans.

Varela and his fiancée Grisela volunteer with The Mission Continues, which partners military veterans and nonprofits to help under-served communities

How is your Hispanic or Latinx identity part of the work you do or the contribution you make to your workplace and community?

I’m proud to represent my heritage at work and beyond. I lead cross-collaboration with many employees from Drata’s Mexico team, and occasionally travel there for work. As a Riordan MBA Fellow, I enjoyed mentorship conversations with my mentee (also Hispanic), who reminded me of the challenges and successes I endured at their age.