When she’s in the classroom at Loyola Marymount teaching and helping to shape the next generation of business leaders, Angelica Gutierrez likes to channel her inner Oprah. Just like the long-time talk show host, Gutierrez uses her position as a platform to impact and enhance the lives of her audience. While this might sound like “How to Be a Professor 101,” Gutierrez’s mission goes beyond merely educating students and grooming them for a career in business. Instead, she does her best to help them realize their potential to make an impactful contribution to the world at large. That, and they have the power to make others recognize their value.
“I’m not saying that I’m Oprah by any means,” Gutierrez says. “But, like Oprah, I try to use my position (as a business professor) to empower my audience.”
The minority audience in particular. Gutierrez (who is just one of two Latina faculty members in LMU’s college of business) was motivated to pursue a PhD and teach business specifically to cater to Latino and African-American students. While she was an undergrad at UCLA, she learned about the experiences of her black and Latino peers as they interacted with professors–business professors in particular. What she learned was that these interactions usually weren’t pleasant. Time after time, minority students expressed that their professors were unapproachable, didn’t seem to have time for them and didn’t understand them. This became the impetus for Gutierrez to seek a career as a business school professor. Her sole aim was (and still is) to be the teacher that minority students need and deserve; with the inherent byproducts of this being that she can also help diversify corporate America in the process.
LIVING OUT A PASSION FOR DIVERSITY
Inside the classroom, Gutierrez lives out her passion for diversity in business academia. Outside of class, but still within the business school, she feeds her passion by assisting minority students on their journeys to becoming business leaders. In addition to teaching, Gutierrez serves as a mentor for many at LMU. Meeting with each mentee once a week, she helps with resume reviews, makes introductions within her personal network connections where appropriate, provides interviewing tips and will do pretty much anything else her mentees need help with to obtain success.
Gutierrez makes clear that her role isn’t something she takes lightly. “I consider it a privilege and a blessing,” she says. She even takes it a step further and acknowledges that–if it weren’t for bills needing to be paid and money to be made–being a business school professor is actually something she would gladly do for free.
In a way, she already does. Her enthusiasm for helping underrepresented populations extends well beyond business school borders and into the community. Working with organizations such as the Riordan Programs, for instance, Gutierrez mentors minority students on negotiating. Surprised by the fact minority students will often avoid negotiating higher salaries for fear of appearing ungrateful, Gutierrez coaches them on how to, first, recognize their value and, second, negotiate a reasonable salary based on said value.
RECOGNIZED FOR IMPACT AND INFLUENCE
Just a couple years into her career and Gutierrez already has a lot to show for her passion for mentoring and teaching business students. She was one of 10 faculty at LMU recognized as an Outstanding Professor, one of 10 Latinas in the U.S. recognized as the “Next Generation Latina” by Latina Magazine (an award that honors Latinas who have made a significant impact in their respective communities as role models, mentors and leaders), and she was one of 20 Latinas in the U.S. named a “Latina of Influence” by the television program Hispanic Lifestyle.
Looking ahead, expect to see her involved with organizations that help underrepresented populations apply to business schools and/or developing initiatives that aim to diversify the MBA student population.
When all has been said and done, Gutierrez aspires to achieve a legacy in which students felt empowered to be effective leaders in business field, but also to make a difference as a result of interacting with her. “If I can achieve this, I’ve accomplished what I was put on this earth to do.”