Alumnae/i Feature

Marcela Aldaz-Matos '06MBA, '07C Brings Diverse Voices to Corporate Culture

Marcela Aldaz-Matos '06MBA, '07C received her MBA and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from the Simmons School of Business. A dedicated advocate for women and minorities, she was appointed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to serve on the State’s first Latino Advisory Commission.

She is also the Chairwoman of the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA) National Board of Directors, the country’s premier Latino professional association with more than 95,000 members and 150 chapters across the country; a member of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network Advisory Board; and Co-chair of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Advisory Committee. We spoke to her about her current role.

Tell us about your current role.

I am a Partner at a management consulting firm called Surfside Capital Advisors. I focus on helping business leaders address business and operational issues to achieve sustainable success. My work is anchored on implementing transformative human capital initiatives that directly impact core business strategies.

I work with top business executives across all industries who are taking action to ensure their workforce reflects the global marketplace — not only in junior positions but also at the C-suite level. I get to witness the evolution of business, and to be a part of changing it. My team works directly with executive leaders who are receptive to hearing feedback and taking responsibility, especially when our analysis reveals aspects of their corporate culture or inequitable hiring practices. It’s taken a long time for society to get to this point, where diverse voices, perspectives, and life experiences are being valued and prioritized in the world and workplace. It’s extremely rewarding to be instrumental in shaping the future of business, opening doors for minorities and other marginalized groups that have been on the outside for too long.

The biggest challenge arrives when a client hires us to create diversity and inclusion practices, but the company’s leadership is not ready to make the difficult and uncomfortable decisions required to implement systemic and structural change. Clients must be willing to view all aspects of their business through an equity lens and come to terms with any implicit bias or limiting views and behaviors with an openness and readiness to change. It’s tough work, but it is absolutely necessary to create an environment that yields high impact and growth.

What drew you to Simmons for your MBA?

I have built a career from my passion for creating opportunities for women and minorities in business. I’ve focused on enhancing the recruitment, development, and retention of diverse leadership in each position I’ve held. I volunteer for organizations that advance under-represented groups and equip them with the necessary to excel. Simmons’ mission of providing a welcoming learning environment focused on diversity and inclusion directly correlated with my professional experience and spoke to me as a person from a diverse background, Latina/woman. Simmons has an amazing program and distinguished faculty who analyze and address gender and diversity dynamics in organizations. The white experience has dominated business, and minorities were not represented in executive leadership, on boards, or in positions of authority. Simmons not only recognized this but encouraged students to challenge it as part of the MBA program curriculum.

I became a leader at Simmons.

What leadership skills did you learn while at Simmons?

I became a leader at Simmons. As an MBA student, I saw the opportunity to create a student association to bring together MBA students from diverse backgrounds. I presented a proposal to the Dean and the Trustees. I received full support from them, and as a result, the first event MBA Diverse Student Association was created in 2004.

At Simmons, I learned to value lifelong learning and to stay open to new ideas. It is actually a hard skill to develop because it requires vulnerability and admitting that you don’t always have all the answers, nor should you. Leaders are accustomed to taking charge because it allows them to maintain control. A CEO or president who can take a step back, put their points of view aside and let other members of their team take charge is a true leader. By letting their guard down, leaders show employees that it’s OK to make mistakes or ask for help and that they don’t have to know everything all the time.

Any advice for current students interested in business/entrepreneurship?

Since COVID began, business has changed, seemingly overnight. Companies became virtual operations, implementing ways to deliver goods and services to customers. The way people worked changed — I would argue for the better — as businesses had to be flexible, understand childcare and family concerns, and see employees as more than just workers. Personal and professional lives were intertwined, and businesses had to adapt to retain valued employees. Companies are now more heavily scrutinized for brand integrity and must show they contribute to society in meaningful ways.

I want students to know that they don’t have to compromise any part of their identity or shy away from opportunities where their experience or voice might be viewed as different. There are so many options out there — no one should work for a company that does not align with their values or stands by its own. Students today can create the job they want or run a company from anywhere in the world. After I completed my MBA, I was offered a full scholarship to pursue a certificate in entrepreneurship. The skills and competencies I gained through that program helped me develop an international operation in the Caribbean and Canada for a multinational health insurance company. The options are limitless.

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