Jose Miguel Ortega is a former international graduate student from Mexico City. He received his MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management and is currently VP of Central Operations for Walmart China.
Can you walk us through your career path and how you got here?
I started my career in Marketing working for Bimbo Bakers in Mexico where I managed the launch of one of the company’s key products. I then got my MBA at UCLA where I focused primarily in Finance and Operations. During the program, I interned with Walmart Mexico in Corporate Finance. I loved the experience and received an offer to continue full time post graduation. I knew that although I wanted to go back to Mexico in the short-term, I wanted to keep the door open to coming back to the US. My new role, which was focused on international business processes, did just that—it allowed me to work directly with other markets across Walmart and would eventually create an opportunity for me to take on new roles with the company in both the US and in China. My global experience has served as a huge asset and has been central to my career growth.
What has been your biggest challenge studying in the US?
The biggest challenge was clearly knowing what opportunities were available to international students and potential career trajectories. I found that I mainly focused on companies that directly recruited international MBA students but didn’t know much about other companies, so my search and focus were limited.
What has been your most valuable resource?
The most valuable resource was my fellow peers at UCLA. We supported one another and helped each other during our early job searches and to this day.
What advice do you have for international students in the US?
Find mentors from different stages of your life and career—people you admire and whose career path you respect. These mentors will provide you insight and different perspectives as you have to make big decisions in your career. In many cases, your mentors will also link you to new opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. Also, pay it forward! Be a mentor to others whether it be through your company, your alma mater or volunteer work.