In the ever-changing landscape of business, a determination to learn, adapt, and grow is often the key to unlocking one’s potential. Amanda Munoz (Wagner), a Chapman University alumna who graduated with an MBA in 2013, exemplifies this philosophy in her journey from an entry-level sales support role to her current position as Director of Accounts for Too Faced Cosmetics at The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. Her story is one of seizing opportunities, embracing challenges, and steering her career toward success.
Chapman: A Catalyst for Growth
Before her Chapman days, Amanda had already made strides toward her career goals, obtaining an undergraduate business degree with a minor in sports management from the Dominican University of California in 2009. However, her ambition led her to seek further education and skills enhancement. She recounts, “I felt the need to re-visit and expand my studies to prepare myself for management, sharpen my accounting/finance skills, and learn how to utilize social media as a marketing and sales lever.” The Chapman MBA program proved to be the perfect platform.
Amanda’s choice to attend the Flexible MBA Program at Chapman, tailored for working professionals, perfectly aligned with her busy schedule. In the midst of her studies, she quickly realized she had made the right decision. She vividly remembers her experience, noting, “My classmates were all extremely impressive… the professors and classes were engaging and challenging. And despite attending the Flex program which had classes at night and weekends, I felt as if I was attending a university and a part of the community.”
From Sales to Success
Amanda’s time at Chapman wasn’t just an academic endeavor; it was a launchpad for her career at Oakley and beyond. In her last semester at Chapman, she was promoted from sales support at Oakley to national accounts sales management. Her transition from Oakley’s sales support to national accounts sales management showcased her resilience and adaptability. Despite initial self-doubt, Amanda embraced the challenge with determination. She recalls her boss’s encouragement: “He assured me I was ready for this challenge… My MBA had prepared me.” This confidence, along with the skills and knowledge gained from her MBA, played a pivotal role in her subsequent accomplishments.
Within a year, Amanda transformed her assigned accounts, elevating Oakley’s Department Store business by over 50% and driving the online business from $6M to $16M. Her skills didn’t just translate into numbers; they translated into an expert in sales management and marketing. After about a decade in the optical industry, Amanda transitioned into the beauty and cosmetics sector, landing her current role as Director of Accounts for Too Faced Cosmetics, leading the SEPHORA account team that handles sales and marketing for the brand at SEPHORA U.S. and Canada.
Reflecting on her Chapman experience, Amanda emphasizes the practical applicability of the knowledge she gained. “During my studies at Chapman, I was able to connect real-life situations/problems I encountered at work and apply solutions/processes I was learning in real-time.” This ability to bridge theory and practice set her apart and was instrumental in her rapid career growth.
Beyond academia, Amanda’s campus involvement played a significant role in expanding her professional network. She and her cohort organized various events, fostering a supportive community that extended beyond the classroom. As she puts it, “The social aspect has helped me to expand my professional network—it’s not always what you know, it’s who you know.”
Additionally, Amanda thoroughly enjoyed all of her professors while studying at Chapman. The most influential were Dr. Niklas Myhr, Dr. Timothy Shields, and Dr. Matthew W. McCarter, who taught her the foundations of her social and digital media knowledge, taught in a way that was entertaining and engaging despite challenging material, and prime negotiation tactics that she not only uses in her professional career but in her day-to-day life as well.
Words of Wisdom
Amanda’s journey is not just an inspiring narrative; it’s also a roadmap for aspiring professionals. Her advice for students and recent graduates looking to follow a similar path is rooted in passion, resilience, and a willingness to seize every opportunity. “Pursue a career in an industry that you are passionate about… be humble and open to take any open job if options are limited.” Amanda’s personal experience of diving into projects outside her initial role demonstrates that “the hard work not only expanded my skill set but fueled my career growth.”
Drawing from her experiences, Amanda offers this advice: “Embrace the journey, you will get where you want to go.” Her metaphor of sailing captures the essence of a fulfilling career—a journey of tacking and maneuvering to reach your destination: “A senior leader once told me that one’s career should be compared to sailing rather than driving on a straight road. When you drive on a straight road, the car always moves in a linear pattern forward to get to its destination. With sailing, you must tack back and forth to get where you want to go.”
Amanda’s story reminds us that success is not always a linear path; it’s a course shaped by passion, determination, and a willingness to embrace every wave that comes your way.