All-Star Alum: Jorge Castillo
In the early 2000s, Jorge Eduardo Castillo was working in the restaurant industry when he decided to pursue an MBA. It was a far cry from his original plans in college to go into medicine, but Sellinger’s leadership focused Professional’s MBA program helped him find his way into the world of business. Today, Jorge is an award-winning executive and consultant and chair of the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who has coached countless entrepreneurs to develop successful businesses. In fact, his distinguished leadership was just recently recognized by the NFL with the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award. We spoke to Jorge about his path into the business world and the Sellinger-taught values that he still holds dear to him today.
Q: Why did you want to get your MBA?
After working in the restaurant industry for years, I found myself hitting something of a glass ceiling. Barring opening another restaurant, I didn’t see any other options for upward mobility. I knew I wanted to do something else, but I also knew that I didn’t want to continue to pursue medicine or biology, even though I had completed my premedical studies and graduated with a B.A. in Biological Sciences, so I started looking at other possibilities. I thought that earning an MBA would open amazing opportunities and give me a close look at how business really works.
Q: Why did you choose to study at Sellinger?
I was set on Sellinger for a variety of reasons. The reputation was very compelling to me. I wanted to go to a school that was distinguished, and I knew that the professors meant business. I did not want to cruise through a program, I wanted to choose a program that would be challenging and help me learn. All these factors, when combined with Loyola’s Maryland location, contributed to my decision to study at Sellinger. I was going to go to Loyola or it wasn’t going to happen—it was the only school I applied to.
Q: What about your Loyola experience helped you get where you are today?
I still hold the guiding principles of the Loyola education close to me as I move forward in my career. At Sellinger I learned that you learn intuitively as an entire human and you have to take care of all aspects of being human (cura personalis). Loyola’s program doesn’t just offer you a business degree, it offers you a degree in leadership in ethical community engagement and advocacy.
I also use reflection skills that I learned at Sellinger on a regular basis. Introspection can be powerful. Sometimes during reflection, you discover things you don’t like, but I learned to be my own coach—to be brave enough to look deep, recognize mistakes, and say “I’m sorry.” It has also inspired me to create an open culture at the companies I work with, one where my subordinates and colleagues can openly talk to me about things that will help me to improve.
Continued learning has been very important to me. The world changes very quickly, but the quality of the education I received at Sellinger motivates me to keep learning and doing things to better myself. That passion is one of those things that really makes a Sellinger education different.
Q: What are some of the roles you’ve held in your career?
After I graduated with my MBA, I knew I had a lot of catching up to do. By the time I broke into the marketing industry, many people already had eight or nine years of networking under their belt. When I was hired by Passport Health as a local marketing coordinator, I made sure to attend lots of networking events to allow me to make those connections. Networking helped my career to progress, and after a few years, I became the corporate director of business development and marketing.
I knew that I didn’t want to be a specialist, someone who only did “A” or only did “B.” I was constantly looking for the next step, asking “what are we going to do next,” “how can we be more innovative,” and “what will take us to a new level?” That attitude led me to embrace technology just as it was booming around 2006, and I began to put my efforts into shifting Passport Health’s marketing strategies to fit the new digital environment. Our focus on digital marketing helped us to withstand the recession, and we grew while other companies shrank during that time. My career then took me into the technology industry, where I worked for many years.
I have also been a business strategy and marketing consultant outside of my 9-5 job, working with Hispanic firms and non-Hispanic firms looking to stand out in the Hispanic market. I think that it’s the work that one does outside of their official job that completes an individual. I was proud to be recognized recently by the NFL for the work I do outside of my job, and I wish that people would be recognized more often for those efforts. Money comes and goes, but your sense of community is always there.
Q: Are there any boards or groups to which you belong?
In addition to currently being chair of the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I am a founding board member of the There Goes My Hero Foundation since 2009, which restores hope to blood cancer patients and their families. We do this by delivering them nutritious meals and by registering people in the international bone marrow registry in hopes that, when called upon, they can donate their bone marrow and give a patient another chance at life. My father passed away from Leukemia, so the organization is very dear to my heart. I also volunteered for House of Ruth Maryland for 6 years, where I was a hotline counselor and worked with all types of people, from those who want to learn about the organization or donate to those who are domestic violence victims and are in crisis. Lastly, I am very proud to serve as a board member of the Joseph A. Sellinger School of Business and Management Graduate Alumni Association since 2011.