September 08, 2021 • By Brian Nguyen
Mark Nguyen FEMBA ’14 was a marketing analyst at Taco Bell when he started attending the UCI Paul Merage School of Business with the goal of diversifying his professional skills. With a previous degree in cognitive science and applied mathematics, an MBA helped him “round out” his education: “I was really technical as an undergrad and a business degree helped me gain many of my soft skills.”
Out of all the skills that he gained from the Merage School, Nguyen said that being able to understand the frameworks for driving businesses and the real-life experience of advising executives was the most valuable to him.
Although Nguyen was happy with the work he was doing at Taco Bell, he wanted to move toward a more tech-driven career. After receiving his MBA, he had to make a decision that would shape his future.
Mark wanted to pivot to an up-and-coming industry—education technology. He decided to jump into the world of tech saying, “there was a lot more opportunity in the growing field of tech to expand my skill sets and to work at a startup.”
Leap of Faith
Nguyen left his position in sales analytics at Taco Bell and took a leap of faith into Silicon Valley to continue to build his repertoire of skills and experience in working in younger companies. He reminisced upon his decision and remarked: “Since I came from a non-technical industry, I had to be willing to take a pay cut and reduce my job title.”
Ultimately, Nguyen’s decision proved to be a calculated play. By the time he left Silicon Valley years later, Nguyen had the tools under his belt to excel even further. He started working at Chipotle as a manager of sales analytics and data science, now with experience in both the business world and tech.
“Back when I was working at Taco Bell, data science was still in its infancy. I was doing more Excel-based analysis, so much of my work was very rudimentary.”
With new technology at his fingertips and experience in the tech industry, Nguyen is now able to create much more value at his current position at Chipotle.
Leader in a Digitally Driven World... with half sofritas
Understandably, Nguyen is passionate about the work that he does at Chipotle, but he says the most rewarding part of his job is the influence he has on others.
He said: “I think something I’m most proud of is empowering my team at Chipotle. Two of the data scientists on my team came in with no experience in Python, so I made a course for them and guided them through the eight weeks needed to teach them the programming language from start to finish.”
Peter Nguyen, one of the data scientists that were taught by Mark, said: “Mark has been a phenomenal Python instructor! Python has been a complete game changer for not only my growth as a data scientist but also for Chipotle Mexican Grill.”
Nguyen has proved to be a fine example of leadership for a digitally driven world, especially with his experience in both the business world and tech.
He said: “I’m glad to be a part of everyone’s individual journey and help them where they need to go.”
And for his go-to order at Chipotle, Nguyen opts for a salad bowl with half chicken, half sofritas, along with mild salsa, corn, black beans, light brown rice and light cheese.