Julio Rocha is as dynamic as he is charming. A powerhouse of ideas and enthusiasm, he is a great talker, who wants to spread the gospel of hard work and gratitude. As the National Chair of the Prospanica organization, whose stated mission is “[to] empower and enable Hispanic MBAs and business professionals to achieve their full educational, economic, and social potential,” he is indefatigable in his efforts to raise the profile of Hispanic professionals.
Julio graciously agreed to answer LBT’s spotlight questions. Take a look.
What is your background? Where were you born/raised?
I was born in Queens, New York, and raised in the Bronx. My parents are from Guayaquil, Ecuador. Guayaquil, La Perla Del Pacifico, city where I lived my teenage years (from 13 to 18) and where I graduated from el Colegio San Jose LA SALLE de Guayaquil. Today, I live in Orlando, Florida.
What were the significant experiences/events that shaped your young life?
I experienced two culture shocks before I turned 19. Getting married to my beautiful wife Yasmin and having my kids, Eva and Lucas, and starting my first business. Experiencing success, but most important, experiencing failures and embracing them as learning lessons shaped the person I am today.
Were you bookish? Sporty?
More “dancy,” ja, ja, ja. I was and still am more of a party animal! From a young age dancing was my thing. When I was little, I danced with my siblings, mother, cousins and eventually I was the one that got the party going at our family gatherings.
What was your education trajectory? What did you study?
My education trajectory? I would say it was long! First, undergrad took six years in total, as I had to learn how to properly write and speak English at college level. I completed my BA at the University of Central Florida while working full time and attended college in the evening or early mornings. Then, I turned 30, was introduced to the National Society of Hispanic MBA (Prospanica) and decided to get my MBA by enrolling in a very intense and demanding 32-month-long MBA-program at Rollins College.
What has your career path been? What jobs have you had?
I have done everything. I was a character performer for four years at Disney World; sold shoes at Sam and Libby and Footlocker; worked at La Petite Academy and then COSTCO; sold pest control for TrueGreen ChemLawn in the evenings…. My final job was for two years with the Shren Yeager State Farm agency in Apopka. During and after my time with Shren I let my entrepreneurship spirit loose and was successful at several small businesses that I sold – the last one in 2015.
Tell us about your work with Prospanica and other organizations.
At PROSPANICA we are changing the future of the United States…today! Prospanica leads the way when it comes to empowering the Hispanic professional with intellectual development and economic empowerment. I am happy to share that I started volunteering for Prospanica in 2007 as the Orlando Chapter VP of membership. Today I have the privilege to serve this organization as the Chairman of the National Board of Directors.
What are your hopes for the Hispanic community?
Unity! I hope that one day our Hispanic community will come together and stop segregating ourselves by what country we come from. Here, in the United States of America, we are treated as a group/block and we need to assimilate without losing our individual identities and customs from the country we immigrated from. We need to lay claim to our political power as Hispanics.
What inspires you in general?
Ser diferente! I know that my life experiences and trajectory are very different than those of many, so I usually cannot wait to share them with others (those that care to listen to it; not everyone is game to changing things around, some are set in their ways and that is ok too).
Why share my experience and points of view? Because I believe that will motivate others to break free from patterns of behavior and just be who they really want to be.
What is a favorite author or creative person whose work brings you joy?
Malcolm Gladwell. I enjoy how he connects topics that you may think have no relevance with one another…but they do.
Do you have a favorite quote that you use for inspiration or motivation?
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars.” – Norman Vincent Peale