Building Trust, Being Adaptable, and Other Lessons Learned

February 2024

By Christian Diaz '20


Beginning your career as a young professional can be daunting. The more you experience, the better equipped you are to handle the situations that arise in a rapidly changing environment. Sometimes, the best lessons you learn must be learned the hard way through your own experiences. That is why it is essential to gain the perspective of fellow alumni and other professionals who can share their thoughts on what they feel are the most important lessons learned in their careers. Learning some lessons and the experiences of others can better prepare you to make a more seamless transition through your career, and keep in mind some things that will help you avoid pitfalls that may arise. 


The lesson that I learned early in my career and continue to experience is always to be adaptable and embrace change at any moment’s notice. I experienced this in my first three years with the Borderplex Alliance as my role dramatically shifted from when I was first hired to what it is today. Different people have come and gone from the organization, forcing me and others on the team to step up and perform work that may not have been in the original scope of our job. I continue to try and learn from all of my colleagues and find ways to complement their strengths and provide value. This sentiment is also shared by others interviewed for this article. Ericka Dominguez, UTEP M.B.A. class of 2009, states, “to stay curious… stay on top of emerging trends, and best practices… and open to learning new things and exploring different perspectives.” 


Building trust in those you work with and genuine relationships also has become at the forefront of how I approach the things I do daily. Kassandra Huhn, a UTEP class of 2018 and 19 graduate, says that of the things that have helped her advance in her career the most, “building authentic relationships with her colleagues” and finding mentors who understand her career goals are some of the biggest lessons she has learned. As highlighted by UTEP College of Business alum and President/CEO of Mirador Enterprises, Yolie Diaz ‘92, having meaningful business partnerships built on trust and respect is essential when running your business. She states that her most important lesson in running her business for 20 years is that “choosing the right partners is critical toward achieving sustained success. Continuing to nurture and strengthen those relationships and maintaining trust is key.” 


Every day, there is a possibility for a new lesson to be learned that can help you become a more vital employee, leader, colleague, and person. Maintaining a high level of humility, agreeableness, willingness to learn, and being a person who can perform consistently are all traits that can help an individual thrive in the workplace. Below are more detailed responses from selected professionals in different industries, each with a unique perspective on the most important lessons they have learned throughout their professions. 


Important lessons learned from different perspectives: 


“As a professional, one of the most valuable lessons you can learn is to stay curious. This means that even if you have performed a task a thousand times, you should keep current and question the details. By doing so, you can stay on top of emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices in your field. 


Staying curious also means being open to learning new things and exploring different perspectives. This can be incredibly valuable, allowing you to expand your knowledge and develop new skills. It can also help you to stay engaged and interested in your work, which can be a significant factor in job satisfaction. 


In addition to staying curious, being willing to take risks and try new things is essential. This can be scary, but it can also lead to great rewards. By stepping outside your comfort zone and experimenting with new ideas, you can discover new ways of doing things and develop innovative solutions to problems. 


Overall, staying curious and open-minded is essential for success as a professional. By embracing new ideas and learning opportunities, you can stay ahead of the curve and continue to grow and develop throughout your career.” 

- Ericka Dominguez, UTEP M.B.A Class of 2009, Federal Contractor in support of DOS, DOE, and DOD 


Looking back, I’d say three things helped me in my career: (1) saying “yes” to most opportunities and optional tasks; (2) building authentic relationships with my colleagues, especially during my internships; and (3) finding multiple mentors. Each position I‘ve had stemmed from a relationship built, so make sure people know your goals! 

 Kassandra Huhh, UTEP BBA in Economics & Finance and M.S, Economics, Outreach Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas 


Being open-minded to collaboration opens up the opportunity to network with others and make a name for yourself in the workplace across all departments. 

 Angel Lee Salazar, UTEP BBA Finance Class of 2019, Financial Analyst at Lockheed Martin. 


From an entrepreneurial perspective, choosing the right partners is critical to achieving sustained success. Continuing to nurture and strengthen those relationships and maintaining trust is key.  

Yolanda Diaz, UTEP BBA in Accounting Class of 1992, President/CEO Mirador Enterprises 


It would probably be never to neglect your “soft skills.” They are just as important and sometimes even more so than your technical ones  

Carlos Chavira, UTEP B.S, Mechanical Engineering Class of 2019 and M.S, Systems Engineering Class of 2021, Customer Success Manager at Service Now 


 “Embrace changes in your role/ workplace! Change can lead to you doing or learning things you might have never thought for yourself”  

- Lanneya Trujillo, UTEP  B.A. in Corporate and Organizational Communication Class of 2020, Testing and Engagement Administrator at Harmony School of Science. 


Christian Diaz ’20 was born and raised in El Paso. He is currently the Vice President of Economic Development for The Borderplex Alliance, and recently joined the Miner Nation Contributors program as a founding contributor in October 2023. Christian graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in sport management from Texas A&M in 2019, and earned his M.B.A. with a concentration in finance from UTEP.