March 03, 2021 • By Xanat Hernandez
Just a few short years ago, Alex Banos MPAc ’18, was packing up their dorm at UC Santa Cruz. They were moving in with their mom and grandma to a one-bedroom apartment so Banos could attend the UCI Paul Merage School of Business in pursuit of their Master of Professional Accountancy degree.
Now Banos, who was offered a position at EY upon graduation, was able to upgrade their family to a spacious 3-bedroom home in the city Banos grew up in—Compton—and is currently thriving in a new role at Agile Fund Solutions, LLC in Beverly Hills. Starting 2021 strong, at 26, Banos is currently remodeling a home in the City of Barstow, which they bought as an investment property.
Banos’ family has always been at the center of their journey.
“My family is what inspired me to pursue this career path,” said Banos. “My mom is from Mexico and my dad is from the borders of Belize and Guatemala, and they made the sacrifice of moving to the U.S. when I was 5 years old so that I could have a better life.”
Choosing the Merage School
Banos, a first-generation college student, double-majored in art and business management economics at UC Santa Cruz. They became interested in the field of auditing, where they knew they could put their interpersonal skills to good use.
Banos chose to pursue their master’s degree at UCI.
“I chose the Merage School because UCI has an impressive reputation and Big 4 firms often recruit from their Master of Professional Accountancy program for both their OC and LA offices,” Banos said.
At the School, Banos took advantage of resume and interview workshops that they believe helped them stand out during the job search. Banos was also impressed by the School’s “great community of students and faculty.”
“I love the fact that we weren’t competing against each other,” Banos explained. “In the MPAc program we are taught that we are like a family, and that one student’s success was a potential career connection that could help us all in the long-run, and I think we really took that to heart.”
Battling Imposter Syndrome
At first, as a Latinx and queer-identifying young professional entering the workforce, Banos battled imposter syndrome.
“I remember my first few months at the firm were the most challenging as it was my first time in a full-time professional role in the business industry,” Banos said. “I was navigating this experience on my own because I’m the first person in my family to work in this type of industry. Sometimes I had self-doubt and my confidence wasn’t the best but eventually I reconnected with the confidence in me before I had joined the firm. I realized I’ve worked smart and hard to get here and I deserve the opportunity just as much as anyone else.”
Once Banos joined professional networks at their firm, their confidence began to rise as they realized they could offer a unique set of experiences and ideas to their team:
“As a member of the Latinx community, I eventually Iearned to embrace my own differences to bring more value and perspective to the teams I was placed in,” Banos said.
Now Banos is an assistant controller at Agile Funds Solutions, LLC, where Banos can apply their knowledge of private equity and hedge funds and expands their knowledge of the financial services industry.
Paying it Forward
Helping other minority groups succeed in business is always at the top of Banos’ mind.
One of Banos’ ultimate goals is to give back to the LA community by starting a LGBTQ+ center in Compton and kicking off a mentoring program there.
In the meantime, Banos is on the board of the nonprofit Kids Can Cosplay, where Banos is helping them seek 501c3 status as a tax-exempt nonprofit. Cosplaying is a fun, artistic hobby for Banos that they started doing in their undergrad years.
Banos has also participated as a mentor for the MPAc program at the Merage School for the previous two years.
“Alex has been interested in giving back to the community in every stage of their career,” said Jana Cheng, associate director of recruitment and admissions for the MPAc program. “Even though they live and work in Los Angeles, Alex made a point to drive down to meet with and encourage their mentees at the MPAc program.”
Ultimately, it is not enough for Banos to achieve success for themselves and their family; Banos feels an obligation to use their newfound position to help elevate others saying “I hold myself accountable to make a difference and to promote inclusivity wherever I go.”