Los Angeles native, Raul Martinez ‘13 (BA Economics) has accomplished a lot since his time at UCSB. A triple threat, Martinez received a Master of Public Policy, a Master of Law, and a Master of Business Administration in just four years.
Martinez juggled policy classes by night, and by day, taught students from his own neighborhood through Teach for America. He recently graduated top of his class from Wharton School of Business at UPenn and is currently entering into the investment world.
In this Alumni Q&A, Martinez shares wisdom, memories from UCSB, and what inspired him to push through three graduate programs.
Can you tell us about your experience at Teach for America?
I did Teach for America in Los Angeles, about 15 minutes from where I grew up as a kid. So, kind of a rough neighborhood but the kids were all great. Honestly, I loved my time at Teach for America. It helped me become a more patient person, a more understanding person. I came from a similar background from where these kids were coming from and I really wanted to show them, look, sure the odds might be stacked against you but at the end of the day you’re still responsible for your success. I still text my students, who are 18 to 20 years old now. Whenever I’m back out in LA, we’ll still get together and play basketball. It’s funny they still call me Mr. Martinez; I mean it’s been 6 years (laughs). A lot of them just got into college so I’m really proud of them.
Was having three master’s always your plan or did these opportunities randomly present themselves?
I always wanted an MBA. I just happened to pick up the master’s in public policy. I was able to work full time and it was a full ride, so it was cool to keep learning. The master’s in law came when I applied while I was at Wharton. It was kind of a coincidence, I happened to stumble upon it. I realized I could pick this up in two years, why not go for it.
You recently graduated top of your class at Wharton and gave a speech during commencement. What was important for you to share with others during that moment?
It was a huge honor to be able to give the commencement speech at Wharton’s MBA graduation. My message was to “Fight Hard and Give More.” I grew up boxing and believe you have to be able to fight through adversity in order to get to where you want to be. And once you get there you have to give in order to help solve some of the world’s most vexing issues. The world needs people who are willing to fight through tough times in order to help solve tough problems.
How do you think UCSB prepared you for your future in academics and/or your career?
I think UCSB prepared me really well for my career and for pursuing my 3 other graduate degrees. I had some great professors in economics and political science like Professor Doug Kulper and Lorraine McDonnell. The Econ program at UCSB tends to be pretty competitive and it set me up well to be able to compete academically. I think UCSB also set me up well in terms of giving me the opportunity to get involved. You learn by doing and you do by getting involved. I was on the Associated Students Finance Board for all four years and helped to manage an $11.2 million budget. I was RHA president and worked alongside 28 other students on several projects. It really set me up to be able to understand finance, critical thinking, project management, and people well. I still keep in contact with a few of my professors from UCSB even though I graduated 7 years ago, and I still keep in touch with many close friends that went to UCSB with me. I think relationships are extremely important in any career and it’s something that takes effort to nurture and grow.
Tell us about your work at Accenture Strategy Consulting?
The past year I’ve been a Senior Strategy Consultant, so I advise on mergers and acquisitions. So, when one company wants to buy another company or one company wants to divest an arm of their current company, we advise them. It’s been good. I plan to do this for a couple of years and eventually move on into the investment world.
Why did you choose UC Santa Barbara?
I went to go visit and it literally felt like home. I can’t explain it. You step on campus, everybody’s friendly, everybody's smiling, it’s 73 degrees, it’s sunny, it felt like a place that can just be home. Every time I’m back in California, I still visit friends who live in Santa Barbara, I’ll drive through campus, catch up with some professors. To this day I still consider Santa Barbara my second home.
Do you have any advice for recent graduates?
My biggest advice would be to take calculated risks. There are some things that you think you might not be able to do, but you can get there. You just have to be willing to take risks and put yourself out there. I really believe showing up is half the battle and trying is half the battle. Go after what you want to do, but make sure you’re taking measured, calculated risks and have discipline.
What inspires you?
Being an American and having the opportunities we have really inspires me. My parents are both immigrants from Mexico and didn’t get the chance to go to school, because they had to work on the ranch. So, I’m very fortunate to have been born in this country. I just want to make the most out of every opportunity I get. I think if you’re lucky enough to get your number called, then you really have to do everything you can to make it worth it. There’s a lot of people who would love to be in our shoes and you really want to make sure you do something with what you have.
I loved my time at UCSB, it’s always going to be home to me. I really do love UC Santa Barbara.