Eric Chavez
Home Region

Austin, TX

Undergrad Education

University of Texas, Engineering, 2007

Previous Experience

Dell, Inc.; General Motors

“I want to use business to help be a voice for those who either don’t have one or need stronger advocacy.”

Eric Chavez, the son of immigrants who moved from Mexico to find greater opportunity in the United States, “does not take this life for granted.” His parents worked their way up from picking lemons in California to maintaining properties in Texas. Expanding upon his acquired skills, Eric’s father built his own commercial contracting business. “My parents came here to have a prosperous future they wouldn’t have otherwise in Mexico,” Eric says.

Eric’s initial calling was in engineering. Through work at General Motors and an extensive career at Dell, he worked his way up from a quality engineer to a new product engineer. “I loved the responsibility and challenge,” he says, “but it felt repetitive: same problems on different products.”

Seeking a new challenge, Eric moved into marketing so that, “I could be closer to the products and the decisions that drive the business.” Becoming a product and brand manager “allowed me to be my own business owner within a larger business. I went from being an engineer who asked, ‘Why is this product broken?’ to a manager asking, ‘Why is this product not selling?’”

Filling in the missing pieces

Eric’s life was good: “interesting job, great work/life balance, and stable career.” But something was missing. It took me a while to understand why I was not fully passionate about what I was doing—I wanted something with impact beyond my four walls.”

His personal life matured as well. In his mid-twenties, Eric came out “as LGBT.” His experience coming out, combined with his background as a first-generation Mexican-American, “made me empathize with those who are different and may not always have a seat at the table.” Eric found a new interest—corporate social responsibility—and a new sense of purpose. “I want to use business to help be a voice for those who either don’t have one or need stronger advocacy.” By combining his engineering and business education, he wants to influence how business affects underrepresented communities, animals and the environment.

But to move ahead, Eric realized he needed to “learn a new set of skills: finance, accounting, theories behind good leadership and corporate accountability. I want to be put into a leadership position that can drive sustainability. The HBS mission to educate leaders who make a difference in the world really resonates with me. Getting an MBA from HBS helps give me the credibility and authority to include social responsibility goals into business missions to have greater impact outside a P&L.”

“The HBS faculty encourage us to see things from different perspectives, to see the implications of our choices, to understand why something could or could not work. They expose risks and barriers. I’m learning about the obstacles I can face in the future.”

After graduation, Eric will look for a position that will help him “refine the skills I’ve learned.” Further out, he would like “a leadership position that will allow me to curate a sustainability strategy at the intersection of retail and luxury.” He wants to make doing good “trendy."

Eric believes he is not restricted by artificial limits. “I no longer have any ceilings; there are no more boundaries for me. I have been very fortunate in my upbringing and how it has set me up for amazing opportunities and experiences. So it is my obligation to give back and help contribute to the change I want to affect in the world. After graduation, more than a job, I now have a mission moving forward.”