Name: Arturo Ramirez
Hometown: Big Lake, MN
Current Title: eCommerce & Strategic Capabilities at Kroger
Prior Professional Experience: 3.5 Years at General Mills, Internships at Northwestern Mutual and Kohl’s
Education:Degrees in Economics & Political Science w/ Minor in Management from the University of Minnesota
How did college prepare you for your first job post-graduation?
College prepared me in multiple ways for my first job post-graduation, but most notably it helped drive my professional development by giving me the ability to think critically and problem solve. Many of the hard skills (Excel, Data Analytics, etc), that I learned in college are directly applicable to most jobs in business but some of the most important skills that I developed while in college were my soft skills. Being able to communicate in a concise and professional matter is one of the most valuable skills to have at my company I found that college prepared me, both from an academic and broader life, standpoint.
How did you decide which industry you would work in? And your current role?
I’ve always had a passion for food, Minnesota, and people. After interning for Kohl’s, at their corporate headquarters in Milwaukee, I realized that leaving Minnesota to pursue a career where my passion did not lie was not the right path for me. When I returned to school for my Senior Year of college, I decided to focus my career searching and interviewing efforts around my passions. Fortunately, Minnesota has a vibrant economy with many major Fortune 500 companies offering fulfilling employment across a wide spectrum of career opportunities. General Mills Sales was a perfect fit for me, especially since it hit on all my three passions; Food, Minnesota, and People. I interviewed for the Sales position and the rest is history.
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced thus far in your career?
The biggest challenge I have faced in my career is navigating it’s growth. Coming from a lower middle-class family, my parents worked in labor-intensive jobs with little to no career progression. As I began my career, I was immediately asked by managers, mentors, and colleagues what my career aspirations and goals were. I always tried answering as best as I could but, frankly, many times I had a hard time articulating these answers to myself since I had never experienced any of this before. Typically, I seek advice from my parents and family, but I was unable to get advice from them with these questions because they did not have similar experiences. Getting myself through the interviewing process and then landing a role with a fortune 500 company was a feat in and of itself, but navigating my way through promotions and job changes has been more difficult but exciting.
What resources, professional or personal, have you leveraged to ensure your career is progressing?
I always try to surround myself with individuals that challenge and motivate me. I seek out people with strong characteristics that I hope to develop, for my professional growth, but also those who I still relate to in some way. Professionally, I have always utilized company sponsored affinity networks to surround myself with some of the aforementioned individuals. This has provided a safe space to voice my concerns and seek guidance.
Do you have a mentor? If so, how did you select this person or people?
I have always sought out mentors. Mentors can be anyone. A good friend, a manager, professor, a leader, etc. Though when I chose a mentor it's always someone that I know will push me, challenge me, and ensure that I am doing what is necessary to achieve the goals that I have voiced to them. The best mentors are individuals who help you grow and think differently and not just those who solely support you in your endeavors.
What do you wish you could tell your Sophomore-year self?
I was always very hard on myself when it came to grades and work. I felt that I always needed to excel in everything to even have a chance of potentially making something of myself. Looking back now, I wish I could tell myself to continue working hard and achieving but to not be so hard on myself. While failure is scary, I’ve found that you always learn so much from it. Many times, you can learn so much more from failing one then you do when you are always successful at a set of tasks. From failure you learn resilience and perseverance, two skills I know have been important to my professional success at to date.