Global Ambassador: Karla Ramos Fearlessly Navigates Business Environments
Karla Ramos knows one thing for sure: her passion for diversity and multiculturalism is going to make an impact.
A third-year student at The University of Texas at Austin, Karla’s academic career exemplifies the type of cultural exposure and international curiosity that the Center for Global Business aims to provide students. Being a woman and a first-generation student definitely comes with its hardships, but Karla has found ways to break barriers and achieve success. Her passions and background are why Karla was chosen to be a part of the Global Ambassadors Program, a program created to recognize exceptional students with unique backgrounds to promote the work of the center.
On the path to making change
Karla chose the McCombs School of Business for its strong business program and proximity to her hometown, El Paso, Texas. As a Mexican American woman, her diverse upbringing and love for adventure sparked a desire to pursue international business. Karla also chose to add on a French major, which intertwined her love of French culture with her IB area of focus requirement, France. Her Spanish-speaking background made it strategically easier for her to grasp the French language as both languages come from a common Latin origin.
Growing up in a border city and living in what she considers the “best of both worlds” ignited a passion for diversity and multiculturalism that she never knew existed. Her decision to major in IB was mostly influenced by the two vastly different cultures she grew up in. In her studies Karla discovered that, “international business and trade reinforces everything that I saw as a young girl with the flow of goods across the border, especially with tariffs.” According to Karla, her parents would cross the border frequently to obtain and provide necessities for her family. She noticed the ways in which certain products were more efficient in Mexico than in the U.S. and vice versa. From a young age, she was able to see how globalized the world is and has been able to apply her experience to her education.
Equipped with her pre-existing knowledge of both multiculturalism and international business, Karla has always found ways to go beyond what is expected of her within IB. The elusive internship search among students at the McCombs School of Business is always intense and filled with much speculation, and career services have their hands full with lots of students, it can be difficult to acquire summer internship opportunities with such concerns. However, she has found opportunities within the University to be successful in her internship search, including her summer 2020 internship at IBM.
Advocating changes for women
Going to school in the U.S. and being surrounded by classmates with different backgrounds allowed Karla to witness, first-hand, the wonders of diversity. She believes that IB could be used as an instrument to help shape students’ ideas of diversity and multiculturalism. For Karla, everything is interconnected; on a personal and global level, we can all learn something from each other. Karla knows the power that transactional learning holds, especially at an institution such as McCombs. This means she is able to learn from others in the same way other students are able to learn from her. Throughout her time at UT, this idea has been the framework for her interests.
On campus, Karla is involved with Latin Economic & Business Association (LEBA), which has allowed her to meet students from Hispanic countries, such as Panama and the Dominican Republic, and see how similar and different they are from each other and America. Karla is also a part of McCombs’s B.B.A. Women’s Council (BBAWC), which has been one of the most influential organizations during her time at UT. As a part of BBAWC, she has been outspoken about the gender pay gap and the unequal gender dynamics within the Mexican-American culture.
Her Mexican background has helped her in the way she has navigated her time at the university and corporate life. She observes, “One big thing is that the Mexican culture tends to encourage men more than women. It wasn’t until recently we started seeing women in higher-level positions.” In both cultures she has noticed certain parallels such as the pay gap between women and men. Because of this, Karla has always sought out ways to go against the stereotypes of what women are allowed to do and not do, utilizing her knowledge to empower other women. There were times when Karla neglected to pursue an opportunity because she is a woman. However, this is no longer the case, she has pushed to not be defined by her gender, even within her own mind. Karla knows that if she is truly not qualified, the hiring manager will let her know, but until then, she will continue to apply and advocate for herself.
The Women’s Council partners female students with female mentors to gain knowledge regarding discussions of the challenges women face in the workplace, how to prepare for success during and after college, and developing and achieving your personal and professional objectives. Karla started out as a mentee but has now progressed to being a mentor for the BBAWC, where she serves as a guide for young women who were also in her place when she first arrived at UT.
Outside of BBAWC, Karla has been able to find many other influential women in her family and in the business world. The women in her family have played a large role in her life and paved the way for her to pursue what she wants to accomplish. She credits her older cousin, who also graduated from UT Austin, as one of the most influential women in her life. Her cousins taught her to never set a limit for herself. As first-generation, Mexican-American women, there can be pre-established paths she is expected to follow, but her female cousins have taught her that it is okay to dream bigger and aim for larger goals.
Being an IB major, it is natural for one to dream of traveling the world and exploring new places. Before the coronavirus pandemic struck the world, Karla was planning to travel to France during the fall 2020 semester in order to fulfill her goals of visiting the country and satisfy the traveling requirements for the IB major. Although this plan has been postponed, Karla is now looking forward to traveling to France during the Fall 2021 semester.
Before she can get to France for the fall, this summer Karla will be performing the duties of her summer internship as an Area Manager Intern at Amazon, where she will be getting hands-on experience. Once she’s finished her undergraduate education, Karla hopes to work in global operations or at a company that provides her with the flexibility to travel or live abroad before matriculating into graduate school. She plans on studying either business, linguistics, or a topic she can apply her international business knowledge to.
From freshman year till today, Karla has grown as a person. She is most proud of and surprised at how much she has grown as a person. She has realized, through the help of her mentors, that what she can achieve has no limits. Although she has always been an independent person, her time at UT has honed her independence and made her an impeccable hard worker who is able to consider both long-term and short-term goals and consequences. She credits UT in developing her ability to interact with other cultures and having a growth mindset, which will definitely help her in the future and particularly in her career.
When asked what the best advice she has provided her female mentees with, Karla says, “when you have a seat at the table, use your voice and don’t just sit there. Use your voice to uplift other women.”
The Global Ambassadors Program at CGB was created to recognize exceptional students who help promote the Center for Global Business’s work.
Written by Elsie Akaduh, Business Student at McCombs School of Business Edited by Jordana Hoffman