Global Executive MBA Student Applies Socially Responsible Values to Award-Winning Family Business

Erika NunezWhen Global Executive MBA student Erika Nunez '08 opened up a Mexican market called Mi Pueblito Market with her family in May of 2015, she directly applied the skills she learned in the classroom. Her hard work paid off—the family business won the New Business of the Year Award from the Truckee Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 14, awarded at The Resort at Squaw Creek.

"Truckee's motto is 'base camp for a big life,' said Nunez, "It's something that we keep in mind in the family store, and a value that was further developed in me by the material I learned in class, mainly a result of the emphasis the College has on social responsibility. Truckee wants to hold people, planet, and profit to the highest standards."

Mexican-American heritage

Mi Pueblita serves tourists and the Mexican community of often-snowy Truckee throughout the year. Nunez credits her Mexican-American background for her desire to think globally. “I’ve always had this dichotomy of two worlds that are very similar yet polar opposites at the same time,” said Nunez, who grew up in Truckee. "In a way, Mexicans are people at the bottom of the pyramid. They are the people you think about when you think of Truckee. The importance of this market segment and the fact that Mexicans are usually forgotten is something that I learned about in the program. I was able to leverage this knowledge to better cater to their needs. That's one of the main reasons why I chose to come back to Saint Mary's. It holds the values that Truckee does. It's because of this small community that we are able to make a difference.”

A death in the family 

Nunez also received her undergraduate degree in business administration with an international concentration from the College. Since then, she’s been working in the corporate world, having gained success early on in her career.

The summer before Nunez applied to the Global Executive MBA Program, a tragedy shook her world. A favorite uncle, Eusebio Nunez, beloved by her entire family, took his own life unexpectedly. Her uncle's death helped open her eyes to a greater sense of purpose. She looked into ways of giving back more than she was currently giving in her work, a mission that went hand in hand with her alma mater's Lasallian values.

Her uncle was the impetus behind her and her siblings' successes, teaching them to help others as he had helped them from the time they were small. He had immigrated to America from Mexico, taking grunt job after grunt job. He started as a dishwasher in Tahoe City, eventually working his way up the food industry chain to restaurant ownership. Nunez hadn’t realized how much his words were a part of her center of gravity until the wakeup call of his death.

“I realized then that the success I was aiming for wasn’t going to fulfill me in the long run and that the initial push my uncle ingrained in us is something I needed to actively think about and take action on,” said Nunez.

Looking for a greater good

Looking for a greater good as well as mentorship, Nunez looked into MBA programs and was intrigued by the Global Executive MBA program. “When I read the first sentence of the program description, it felt like it was written specifically for me. The focus of the program is people, planet, and profit, and it’s something that no other program was offering. It’s a more complex way of learning business while not just focusing on the numbers portion of it. It’s not something for the weak-minded.”

After only a few months in the program, Nunez’s entire perspective on life has changed, including the way she assesses and analyzes situations. “The material we’re learning, along with the way we’re learning is something that really solidifies this program as something more than a traditional program. It’s really a lifestyle change.”

What she wishes she had known

Before returning to Saint Mary’s, Nunez worked as a strategic program director at a media company. Some of the skills she has picked up in her program are skills she wishes she hadn’t had to learn the hard way out in the field. “I wish I would have entered this program sooner,” said Nunez, who expects to graduate from the Global Executive MBA program in 2017.

One of her favorite experiences in the program so far was a trip the class took for their global immersion course to visit Thailand. Professor Linda Herkenhoff taught Nunez and her classmates about the causes of coral bleaching and earthquakes. “I came from a professional world of excess, a focus on the profit margin. In this course, I had a life-awakening moment where I was able to see different ways of running a business responsibly—still obtaining a profit, but ensuring planet and people are still a part of the equation.”

About The Global Executive MBA Program

Whether you own a small business with global ambitions or dream of being a social entrepreneur or aspire to run a business unit with a global reach, a Global Executive MBA provides the core MBA discipline while immersing you in cultural experiences from places that include Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Kenya, New Zealand, Philippines, Rwanda, Spain, Thailand, Uganda, and Zanzibar.

The coursework is completely designed to teach responsible business on an international basis. The experiential learning format prepares you to successfully manage real-world business challenges. 

Looking to leave your mark on the world? Explore the Global Executive MBA.