Interview with a Miner: Rigo Gonzalez ’17 

January 2024 

By Alexandra Sanchez ’17 

Video Transcript

Alexandra Sanchez: “Hi Rigo! Thanks for joining and taking time out of your busy Friday to meet with me. I'm just gonna do a brief introduction of you. This is Rigo Gonzalez, he currently works at PepsiCo as an associate marketing manager and graduated from UTEP with a bachelors in marketing in 2017, and also got his MBA from SMU with a concentration in strategy. I know we had a lot of college memories together Rigo and I truly treasure those, but I wanted to ask you, what's your favorite memory at UTEP?” 

Rigo Gonzalez: “First of all, thank you for taking the time, super excited to get a chance to chat with you. Obviously we've known each other for a while so, it's kind of a full circle moment between us. So excited to chat a little bit with you, and a lot of that really comes to my favorite memories and experiences at UTEP. So many, really took me a second to like narrow back but, it's hard to get specific. I think overall having my involvement with the American Marketing Association within the college of business was what really lit my college career going forward and having the opportunity to meet such great friends that I still hold dear to my heart to this moment. Having the chance to compete in different competitions across different states and having the chance to meet different people throughout was easily my favorite part of it; but UTEP as a whole has a special place in my heart for sure.”  

Alexandra Sanchez: “Love that. Now that you mentioned your involvement at UTEP, how would you say that it contributed to your success now?” 

Rigo Gonzalez: “Sure, sure. A lot, actually, and really setting up the foundational work for “How do you approach life post-graduation?” Really staying involved, I know we had the chance to work with each other through AMA. Actually, served on there as a vice president under your tenure as president, so super fun. Really showed me what is possible when I came into this. One thing I tell people—when I started college, I didn't really understand what was, what it meant to go get a job outside of; I didn’t know the opportunities that were out there. And I remember my first meeting at AMA. Everybody was talking about internships and opportunities with these huge companies and I was really taken back. I think having an understanding and opening your eyes to the world and what's out there was huge for me; and it really all stands from my involvement in AMA and staying really close to everything with the college of business and UTEP.”  

Alexandra Sanchez: “I completely agree with that. You had some internships during college and you've had a few job experiences before this one. What is your advice to others who have maybe recently graduated or are currently looking to be in a position like yours?”  

Rigo Gonzalez: “That's a great question. I think it really break it down to like three parts that should really work. I think the first one is you have to believe in yourself. If you don't believe that you deserve to be there or that you can do it nobody's gonna believe in you. It starts with you, starts really with the mindset and the approach. I think once you have that you have to put in the work. There is no way around it If you didn't have to do it earlier, you're gonna have to do it later so really embracing it going forward; and with that is the third is really embracing the journey. I think nobody's trajectory is the same, there is no one route. I couldn't even tell you how to get here if I had to do it again myself, taking it step by step, learning from the little things. Just because you're not where you wanna be right now doesn't mean you can't learn something huge that's gonna really help you in the future. So really taking every moment for what it is, embracing it, and you know enjoying it, and going through it. You got to live life, you have to enjoy the moment in the process; and I think at the end of everything that is the biggest joy out of being here is all the memories I made throughout the way.”  

Alexandra Sanchez: “Awesome I love that. Now that you mention the journey and just trusting the process and knowing that there's gonna be highs and lows. I would like to ask you what are some challenges that you face maybe in college or even post college, and what kept you motivated?”  

Rigo Gonzalez: “Challenges are equally as expected as anything else right? Challenges are gonna come starting with that you have believe in yourself right. I left El Paso pretty soon after graduating and just trying to pursue the marketing dream. It wasn't always working out, like it really took a lot of roles that didn't feel right, took a lot of those moments and so staying motivated is huge; but beyond motivation, staying consistent and like knowing what you want right. Once you really understand what that is for you it's easier to push forward to those bad days. When you know what you're capable of and what you're really aspiring to be. Also make sure that you don't get locked into something that might seem good in the moment. There's a lot of opportunities you can take that could be a little bit better than where you're currently at but don't really fit and you know it; but you're so ready to do a little bit better sometimes having the patience, trusting yourself, and putting your head down, do it, learn make the best out of it and keep going.”  

Alexandra Sanchez: “Love that, thank you for that. You’re motivating me.” 

Rigo Gonzalez: “I'm very motivational.”

Alexandra Sanchez: “So you're actually the first in your family to earn your master's degree. So what moved you to accomplish this?” 

Rigo Gonzalez: “It was an interesting time. I started my MBA during COVID. Kind of coming off that wave and it was understanding where the economy in the world was, where I was, and where I wanted to be. So, I was working at a smaller agency great experience, but I knew I could do more. I, you know, I was happy to be there; but I was uneasy with the way the economy was going the steps that I had to come is very, it's scary times for anybody really. Understanding that as I get older, I don't want to have this fear of what comes next. Also understanding that I feel like I don't know what's coming next, but I know what I'm good at ;and I'm just leaning into that and really taking a chance on yourself which was the big thing for me and trusting that you can take on whatever challenge. I think I was the last one that I expected to get an MBA. So, it was interesting to me get this deep into it, but where my career was at the moment I felt like it was a great opportunity. Clearly, kind of worked out or it's working out hopefully, but still so much more to come from here.”  

Alexandra Sanchez: “Well congratulations with that and I think your journey is very inspiring, and what you had you have shared with us so far in these few minutes have been really inspiring. I would like to know a little bit more about what you do at your current role with Pepsi Coke.”  

Rigo Gonzalez: “Sure sure, so I am an Associate Marketing Manager, sits on our Innovation Marketing side under our Positive Choice portfolio. So that's all all the snacks are gonna be a little bit better for you. I currently lead innovation for a handful of brands within our portfolio, high level. Popcorners being one of my bigger brands, Simply Baked, among some others, but we essentially lead anything new in future for these brands. So, new flavors new shapes, new anything coming to stores, new limited time offers, anything like that comes through our side of sorts. Super interesting, we work really hand in hand with all our cross-functional partners. Some are true brand team who does everything that’s happening day to day. Insights, finance, supply chain is super cross-functional. Which can be a lot sometimes, but it's also super fruitful because you learn from so many aspects; but yes that's currently what I'm doing at PepsiCo within Frito-Lay and as mentioned hopefully a lot more coming down.” 

Alexandra Sanchez: “Awesome, I love that. Well thank you so much again for your time and for sharing all of this with me and hopefully we get to talk soon and best of luck in everything else.”  

Rigo Gonzalez: “Thank you thank you, thank you for taking the time it's a pleasure to get the chance to do this with you.” 

Alexandra Sanchez ’17, an El Paso native, currently works as a Digital Media Specialist at a local non-profit, Project Vida. She is a proud graduate of The University of Texas at El Paso with a bachelor’s in marketing. She further pursued her master’s degree in digital audience strategy from Arizona State University.