Myeisha Peguero Gamiño, MAHOD ’03
Myeisha Peguero Gamiño, MAHOD ’03, VP and Corporate Giving Manager, Community and External Affairs Division, Washington Mutual, Inc., gives advice and future professionals as well as shares some of her challenges in becoming the leader she is today.
Why did you focus your career on corporate philanthropy?
I grew up in a family with a strong faith and a clear understanding that we were very blessed. My parents were incredibly generous people and always encouraged me to find a way to give back to the community and help others, regardless of the career path I chose.
From an early age, I knew I wanted to go into public service and began looking for opportunities to get my feet wet. I began working at age 16 and started to learn the complex art of working with people. A series of respected leaders entered my life over the years, and through them I discovered the immense potential for large corporations to benefit their communities. I had found my niche.
What challenges or opportunities have you experienced as a woman of color in the corporate world?
I walk with pride, make sure I’m aware of the challenges, then mitigate those challenges. Every speed bump has made me stronger and nurtured a deeper sense of empathy for those I serve in the community through my company’s corporate giving efforts. I view them as invaluable experiences I can use to reinforce community programs that promote positive change.
I serve on the board of directors for the Challengers Boys’ and Girls’ Club, as well as the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce Education Fund and Foundation which honored me with the Community Service Award in both 2003 and 2006. When my position opens doors for me to serve others on this scale, I’m reminded of the immeasurable value of this line of work.
Why APU for your master’s degree?
I was fascinated with the social aspect of business and wanted to study organizational development from the people’s perspective. I learned from my work experience that we do business with people, not companies. The human aspect of business is equally as important as any other component. I wanted to explore that concept with like-minded people. For me, that meant APU.
At APU, I found that each individual professed a genuine faith and solid theology that they neither apologized for nor force-fed. The environment was open and welcoming to people of all backgrounds sincerely seeking truth and knowledge. I learned practical and relevant tools for applying my faith in everyday life.
What advice would you give to others working their way toward a career in business?
Have Passion: No matter what you choose to do, be passionate about it. The average person spends more time at work than at home over the course of any given week. If I’m going to be away from my favorite people for that much time, I’d better love what I do. For me, my work is my mission. I believe strongly that the work I do matters — but only if I pour myself into it. If I give less than 100 percent, everyone loses: my company, community, myself.
Be Prepared: The time-honored Scout motto still holds true. In my experience, opportunities arise unexpectedly. I try to prepare myself for things I can’t even foresee. Higher education, advanced degrees, extensive reading, or a second language can all result in an important advantage at just the right moment. Preparedness, having that one extra line on my résumé, has given me the edge, time and again.
Find Mentors: Surround yourself with people you respect in your field. Notice how they dress, how they talk, what they do and don’t say, how they handle ethical dilemmas, and how they treat people. Their success reflects the culmination of these things, and you can go far by emulating them. The mentors I’ve known represented key characteristics I strove for in my own life and have been instrumental in my career choices throughout the years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
Work Hard: Nothing replaces a strong work ethic. I recommend starting work as early as possible in life because the experience builds character, teaches responsibility, instills money management skills, and increases awareness of the global community. Internships provide a great way to explore the marketplace, gain experience, and start targeting potential career paths.