Blessed Ambition: Mark Madrid’s Journey to Notre Dame
Meet Mark Madrid, the Senior Director of Business Development at the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and recipient of the inaugural Master for Non-Profit Administration fellowship from the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame. Mark stepped in and applied to the school with only 2 weeks left before the university deadline after the original fellowship recipient was unable to meet the on-campus time requirements. In those two weeks Mark managed to study for and take the GRE examination earning scores high enough to gain admittance to the prestigious university.
Mark’s story is one marked by tireless ambition melded with sincere compassion. We were especially struck by his perseverance and commitment not only to his own enrichment, but to prosperity in his own community.
His story may fit a familiar American narrative, but the ambition that characterizes every facet of his life is uniquely inspiring. Mark’s family, though lacking in formal education, taught him just how integral a diligent work ethic is to success.
Mark Madrid – “I’m from the Texas panhandle. You’ve heard the phrase: ‘where the cattle outnumber the people’? Well I didn’t have too many opportunities to gain from a mentor early on, let alone Hispanic mentors. ‘Diverse’ is not how I would define my hometown. I learned early on from my family that it was going to take drive to achieve success.”
As an eighth grader, Mark achieved valedictorian status of his graduating class. He repeated the feat again as a senior in high school.
“When I was called into the principal’s office, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I was in trouble at first, I was a good kid, but no angel in high school. Come to find out, I’d earned valedictorian. Not only was I the first Hispanic student to achieve such high marks at my school, but also the first student, regardless of color or ethnicity to achieve as high a GPA as I’d earned. Needless to say, I felt honored and blessed and it’s driven me to the mindset I have today. I owe it to myself to do well in life for me and for those around me.”
After making an impression on a recruiter from JP Morgan near the end of his college career at the University of Texas, Austin, Mark began his professional ascent. He quickly turned an internship on Wall Street into a full-time career. He eventually returned to Texas where he cultivated a successful banking career. He was responsible for a national marketing campaign for a Fortune 500 Company by the age of 26. During the financial crisis of 2008, he was forced to break the news to a bank he was managing that they would be closing. Shortly thereafter he suffered as another casualty of the mass layoffs that characterized the sub-prime lending crisis.
“After that setback I said to myself ‘I want to be a part of something’, to be a part of an organization that’s going up. I needed to look no further than in my own community. I started volunteering at the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and became hired full-time after two weeks. The transition from corporate to non-profit was difficult for me financially but in the end it didn’t matter a bit. My work with the chamber has been real and refreshing.”
Mark had turned his back on his corporate past, but his aspirational nature continues to shine through to this day.
“I worked my way up from special projects coordinator, to member relationships manager, to senior director of business development. I became motivated by the work of the USHCC Foundation and participated in their Chamber Training Institute. As soon as the opportunity presents itself I become totally engaged with whatever I do. Through the Notre Dame-USHCC program I learned about board governance and used that knowledge to advise six different boards across the Houston area. The training was crucial in giving me the confidence I needed to bring the skills I already had to others who needed them. Keeping connections alive is so important. What’s happening across the nation may be different from what’s happening here in Houston, but at least I know where I stand among my neighbors and my community.”
On June 20, Mark will embark on his newest venture as a student of the Notre Dame, Mendoza School of Business.
“This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m incredibly thankful to the USHCC Foundation for everything they’ve done to create this one-of-a-kind program. I feel like I’ve always had a destiny to have local and national presence, and this will bring me closer to achieving that destiny.”
In addition to his impending matriculation, and work at the Houston HCC, Mark will also be busy with his new national mentoring campaign for Hispanics who have achieved outstanding academic success. At the time of this interview, the program launched 3 weeks prior.
“I’ve taken my own experience, reinforcing what I already have inside of me, and brought it out to help others. I want the students, – if they have the faith, heart, work ethic and ambition – to be able to succeed and to be able to do so without restrictions. I have no inherited wealth, but I lead a comfortable life. That doesn’t change the fact that I have a responsibility to be an example to others; whether they are executives, students or entrepreneurs, I am blessed to be in the position I’m in.”
Mark finished his inspiring story by sharing some motivational words and quote from Vince Lombardi:
You see, trying to self-develop, be stewards, help others, and balance it all can be exhausting. But there are those who can be the 1%, those who can see that the battle is good and worth fighting. We need to go forward, and sometimes we need to battle. I like to play by the rules, but I also like to win.
I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”
The MNA fellowship is sponsored by Wells Fargo as part of their outreach dedicated to improving educational opportunities for chamber leaders across the country. Wells Fargo is currently the exclusive sponsor of the Chamber Training Institute which is conducted by the University of Notre Dame.
All those interested in the MNA Fellowship program should contact Jennifer Tarazon at firstname.lastname@example.org