Delia Perez Engineers a New Future
by Marianne Skoczek
As a teenager in Laredo, Tex., Delia Perez yearned for a bigger world.
“Growing up first generation Mexican-American, I was fascinated by cultural diversity,” she remembers. “I was very interested in the French language, but there were no opportunities to study it. So I researched study-abroad programs and started working as a tutor and saving my money. I convinced my parents to send me to France and embarked on a journey that changed my life.”
Over the next six summers, Perez traveled and learned—not only a new language, but how diverse and interconnected the world truly is. “With each international experience, I learn more about myself and how to interpret the world around me,” she says.
Perez pursued a five-year double degree, earning her bachelor’s in industrial and systems engineering at the prestigious Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico and a master’s in materials and performance management at EPF – École d’ingénieurs in Paris. Upon graduation, she joined the multinational construction materials giant CEMEX as an industrial engineer working with cement projects.
Perez led major drilling and blasting efforts—“basically, controlled explosions,” she explains. One significant project included identifying the most cost-effective blasting agent—and then heading negotiations to ensure its use. The switch saved CEMEX hundreds of thousands of dollars a year per cement plant.
“CEMEX gave me incredible opportunities and experiences in France, Mexico and the U.S.,” she says. But as the global economy deteriorated, Perez sought a career change in a new industry. Drawn to the dynamic, fast-paced tech sector, in January 2010 she joined Intel in Folsom, Calif., as a new product planner in the Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group.
She has since successfully planned, launched and managed supply for four solid state drive (SSD) product lines. SSDs, which have no moving parts, offer accelerated performance and are more reliable and energy efficient than conventional hard disk drives in PCs and data centers—benefits enjoyed by everyone from gaming enthusiasts to IT managers to small business owners.
With each international experience, I learn more about myself and how to interpret the world around me.
Seeking to expand career opportunities and her professional network, Perez enrolled in the Sacramento Working Professional MBA program. The program has helped Perez to better understand her work group’s business decisions and strategic direction. “We’re concentrating on automation, standardization and continuously improving business processes and our supply chain,” she says. “I can immediately apply what I learn in class to my everyday life at work.”
Perez’s extracurricular activities have enhanced her MBA experience. Serving as vice president of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council affords a rare “opportunity to interact with some amazing, motivated people, deepen my involvement with the School’s community and have a lasting impact on its future,” she says.
She’s also involved with the Sacramento Leadership Cooperative Program, which collaborates with a public charter school to mentor and tutor underprivileged and at-risk youth. “We help them build self-esteem, and motivate them to excel and pursue a higher education,” Perez says. “Life has given me some amazing opportunities. I give back because I believe I can make a difference.”
Perez’s dual commitment to personal growth and to helping others excel will ultimately lead to a career in academia. “I have been passionate about teaching since I tutored math and science in high school,” she explains, “and a Ph.D. has always been on my mind. I want to be part of the expansion and communication of knowledge, and to have an impact on global business and education.”