Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO credits roots for career success
PHOENIX — Courage in culture sums up the story of Monica Villalobos, CEO of Arizona’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and one of the most influential Hispanics in Arizona.
Villalobos grew up in East Los Angeles — specifically Lincoln Heights — but knew it wasn’t where she wanted to stay.
“Growing up in East L.A., I had two options to get out,” Villalobos said. “I could get arrested or get an education and I choose the latter.”
She received an undergraduate degree from UCLA, which launched her into a career in advertising with hopes to change the image of Latinos in media.
“I fell in love with the opportunity to at least play a small part in changing the image of Latinos in advertising,” Villalobos said.
Throughout the course of her career, Villalobos said she has faced challenges as a Hispanic woman but found them to give her strength.
“It’s those challenges that contribute to your success the most,” she said. “It’s those barriers that you have to find a way around that make you better.”
Villalobos credits her culture for advancement in her career.
“I was able to climb the corporate ladder quite quickly and also become a successful entrepreneur because I was so nimble, because I had spent a lifetime floating in and out of two different cultures,” Villalobos said.
Villalobos has already completed her master’s degree and will finish her doctorate next May.
Despite her success, doubt still creeps into her mind.
“I certainly suffer from what’s often called the imposter syndrome and I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Villalobos said. “For people to figure out that I’m just this poor kid from East L.A.”
She said working at the chamber gives her a chance to give back to the Hispanic community.
Villalobos is a mother to two boys, who she says also help make her better at her job.
“My ability to negotiate, my patience level, all of those things are better at work because I am a mother,” she said.