1. Tell us about yourself: Where do you work and what’s your role? How did you get to where you are today?
JUAREZ: I’ve been with Wells Fargo for 21 years comprising my entire adult career. Specifically, I work in commercial banking which is middle market. My current role came to fruition after I opened up a regional commercial banking office in Anaheim. We launched [the office] and I ran that effort for about six years where we experienced tremendous success. I continued to develop relationships with clients and think of what else we could do to grow.
A thought came in my mind that we don’t have a practice for diverse segments such as Hispanic, Asian American, and African American owned businesses. I began developing the idea of harnessing all of our energy and be successful in these segments. I also thought that we could partner with our Spanish speaking bankers to go out and really provide that value since most business owners feel more comfortable speaking in their native language.
I put a business plan together and went up to San Francisco to pitch it to the head of middle market. My initial pitch only included California. He was very supportive, loved it and said, “Well how do you feel about doing it full time for the whole country?”
After thinking it over and speaking with my husband, I decided to take the job and started leading this effort in fall 2016. It’s very recent, all-involving, and fun. I’m enjoying putting together a program complete with a tool kit and resources to arm bankers with more experience to be successful.
It’s great work, and I’m really loving it.
2. What inspired you to get involved with the Argyros School and the Board of Counselors? What does it mean to you to be on the Board of Counselors?
JUAREZ: Education has always been a passion for me and I was looking to be involved with a school. I honestly have to spend my limited free time diligently on the things that I really love. I have two passions in life: children and education. I believe education is the greatest equalizer in life for anybody.
[Chapman] was one of the schools I was aware of because I’ve hired from the University previously. In fact, a bunch of my team either hold an undergraduate degree from Chapman or graduated from Chapman’s MBA graduate program.
So when I was asked to join, I thought that this could be interesting but I would have to meet the dean and make sure this was a fit for me. So Reggie and I ended up meeting, and it was an instant ‘of course I will work for you’ conversation.
I now have had the pleasure of meeting President Struppa several times and I’m really looking forward to working with him on improving diversity at Chapman. I really want to be helpful to him in terms of establishing and fostering partnerships with the Hispanic community so we can see Hispanic enrollment increase at Chapman.
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with Cola Cola, had a reception celebrating [President Struppa’s] appointment. President Struppa spoke about Chapman having a ten-to-thirteen percent enrollment of Hispanics. He was really inspirational in that he spoke about Hispanic students always achieving at or above what other students achieve.
I’m an immigrant to this country and personally, I feel like without my education and my MBA later on I probably wouldn’t have the opportunities in life that I’ve been afforded. Therefore, I really feel like focusing on education is important and that’s why I have an affiliation with Chapman.
3. How would you describe the Board of Counselors to others?
JUAREZ: What I feel the Argyros School does well is directly connect the board of counselors to the student issues. So I love having brain storming sessions about curriculum, data analytics, internships, etc. I enjoy discussing if we should implement a different program, what we should do to attract more students, and determining what other factors should be incorporated to help students be more successful.
Personally, as a board member, I think if you’re going to join the board, I think you should be really passionate about it, have a lot of energy supporting it, and be willing to go up to bat in terms of connecting people, providing jobs for students, and even just spending time with the students. I have been called upon to go and have lunch with students to exchange ideas, learn about their background, and see if they’re interested in banking.
We also have students come and speak to our board meetings. These students have been touched by something that was developed or that was thought of by a board member and it’s incredible to see that.
4. Why do you think it is important to give back to schools, whether it be your time, money, network?
JUAREZ: You know I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for people that cared about me and cared enough to give back. I always said someday I will pay it forward. I became involved at Chapman because I feel it’s really important to give back and to set an example for my kids. My hope is that my kids can also have that same spirit of giving and I think it’s a true gift that I can give them.
I’m very passionate about anything that touches a student. Because of my background and the work I do, one of my main objectives of sitting on the board is to work towards increasing diversity on campus and providing a better opportunity for students of diverse backgrounds to come to Chapman.
5. Do you have any other advice to share?
JUAREZ: One of the things that I think people have to do in life is be good networkers. And I think that one of my strengths is I do stay connected to people and I make that effort and it takes effort, don’t get me wrong I mean it does take effort but I still talk to people from my first job I had at the bank to my last job that I had at the bank. I always stay connected, whether it’s just a note once a year to say how are you doing, or something, and I stay connected.
You never know how those connections will come to bear at some point in your life so I love networking, love staying connected, and I think it’s an important thing, especially with this younger generation, they need to learn that, because everything’s so, text, and impersonal, and it’s like a handwritten note is like an ancient history type of thing. And so I feel that it’s been a great experience for me to have done that, and I think people should definitely focus more on their personal relationships with people.