Edited by: Zahra Khuwaja
Alumni Name: ZULY GOMEZ
-Current Role: Executive Vice President Business Development
-Undergraduate major: Architectural Engineering, Illinois Tech, 2014
-Graduate major : Construction Engineering and Management, Illinois Tech, 2014
Our Alumni Spotlight for January 2021 is Zuly Gomez. We interviewed Zuly about her experiences and learned about her interests, leadership style and current social endeavors.
- How do you stay motivated in your job? What keeps you going?
I have this quote on my Linked In – “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman. After a very difficult personal experience I had while trying to graduate from IIT, my career shifted due to a different outlook that life gave me. I started focusing on a job that made me feel like I could create a difference in a space that had caused so much anxiety, depression, and pain in my family and my life. Even though I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Architectural Engineering and a Masters in Construction Engineering, I decided to join a startup in Healthcare that focused on Virtual Care (Telehealth). As a Latina, who was a caregiver and translator for my mother’s cancer journey, that experience taught so much about the importance of access, connection, and support. My fire, my passion, has always been fueled by my family, especially my mother. If I can make a family’s experience easier by accessing and connecting to the right providers and medical staff, then I have done my job. Being part of a startup has been both extremely difficult, I’ve lost more hair than I wished, but very rewarding. I always heard it wasn’t for the faint of heart or that you have to have thick skin, but it truly has taught me so much about how an idea can become an impactful business and most importantly, that I am capable of so much.
- Where do you see yourself heading 10 years from now?
I look forward to being part of other startups that are focused on health and education not only nationally but globally. I also see myself opening my own business. This is currently in the works and my partners and I look forward to hearing back soon. We have truly put our hearts into the business and I feel extremely fortunate to be surrounded by amazing individuals who are passionate about creating opportunities and making a positive impact. And, if I still have a few minutes to spare, finishing up a book I have been working on.
- What core values make up your work ethic?
Integrity, Perseverance, Ambitious, Dependability, Self-Motivated, Curiosity, Creativity, Open-Mindedness, Optimistic…PASSIONATE
- What are you currently reading?
I am more of an Audible type of individual – The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
- What advice do you have for those trying to find their passion?
Find what makes you come alive, as Howard Thurman said. Easier said than done, right? Believe me, I have been there so many times. Sometimes I wonder what if. There are some days that I question my decisions… “Maybe I should have gotten a 9-5? Or maybe I should have continued in Construction Engineering?”… I question everything, but at the end of the day, I think of the moments that made me happy, that I felt accomplished, that I felt that it was all worth it. Writing things down, creating a vision board, and meditation are all tools that have helped me to tap into that little voice inside, that gut feeling that intuition. It is not always easy, it takes practice, but we only have this one body, this one life to live for who we want to become and be. It takes time and trial and error, but you will get there. Lastly, don’t measure your progress with anyone else except yourself. I’ve personally done this to myself more than I needed to, “If only I would have done this or chosen this route I would be like my friend/colleagues/etc” but I am me and you are you. We all have different stories, challenges, and experiences, find what works for you and move in the path of less resistance that brings you joy and excitement.
- How do you deal with high-stress situations?
Walks, working out and writing it out. If the situation or circumstance is extremely difficult, more than I alone can handle, I seek a professional for help. Mental and behavioral health is so important and having someone to talk to who listens and supports you can make a big difference. If I can’t think straight or are too overwhelmed, it impacts my ability to be my most creative and productive. The flight attendant always says you must put your mask first before assisting anyone else —I’ve learned the hard way. Taking time to walk it off, talk to your friends/family or even a professional can be what is needed to help process those high-stress situations and ease the tension inside you.
- What is your leadership style when it comes to your job?
Being in a startup, my leadership style changes depending on what is the task at hand but I am a Visionary Leader. I try to be grounded and present, especially when things are needed immediately but I love to take risks and I am very optimistic. That is why I love startups and new businesses, and why I became an Engineer. I like to make ideas become a reality and since I think like an Engineer (with a minor in Architecture), making a strong foundation can create a beautiful skyscraper!