2018 Best EMBAs: Marisa Vasquez-Machuca, UCLA (Anderson)

Marisa Vasquez-Machuca

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

I am an emerging leader who believes our humility empowers us to find solutions.”

Age: 41

Hometown: Brawley, CA

Family Members: 

Husband-Walter Machuca

Daughter-Natalia Machuca (6-years old)

Fun fact about yourself: During the sports medicine fellowship application process, I received a letter of declination. Subsequently, I matched at that program the same year. I am currently the program director, chief of the division and the only female faculty physician since the inception of the division.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • University of California Riverside- BS Biochemistry-Chemistry Emphasis, Minor-Spanish Literature 1998
  • University of California Davis- Post-Baccalaureate, Biomedical Science 1999
  • Temple University School of Medicine- MD 2003
  • White Memorial Medical Center- Family Medicine Residency, Board Certified 2006
  • Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center-Sports Medicine Fellowship, Board Certified Added Qualification 2007

Where are you currently working?

Southern California Permanente Medical Group at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center

Dual Role: Division of Sports Medicine Physician in Charge

Sports Medicine Fellowship Program Director

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • SCPMG Physician Leader Merit Award for clinical excellence delivering medical care
  • Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Grand Funding Committee – Allocates grants to community programs that promote wellness and address the mental health crisis
  • Kaiser Permanente Government Relations Inaugural Committee Member -Promotes synergies and addresses health care concerns at the national level
  • UCLA Women’s Business Connection – Member and Volunteer Student Mentor for Velocity Conference 2018
  • UCLA EMBA 2018 Women’s Center Volunteer – Donated time to cook a healthy meal for residents at the center
  • UCLA and USC School of Medicine – Family Medicine Teaching Physician and Mentor
  • American Medical Society for Sports Medicine- Fellowship Committee Member
  • KP Los Angeles Medical Center Bilingual Community Media Representative
  • Special Olympics Southern California Medical Volunteer and Event Physician
  • Occidental College Team Physician

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud to have published an article online and in print, “Multiple Sclerosis Doesn’t Stop this Doctor from Practicing Sports Medicine.” It is a personal story in Spanish (my native language) to inspire those with chronic diseases to pursue the unimaginable.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of being a part of the UCLA cohort. I was accepted to UCLA as an undergraduate, but elected to attend another amazing college for financial reasons despite my life long dream. During college, I was once asked, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Naturally, attending UCLA was this. It was a long road to UCLA and I am proud to have reached this goal despite all the tangles.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite course was Brand Management taught by Professor Cassie Mogilner-Holmes. The biggest insight I gained was learning about the spectrum in which time and money affect our happiness.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I was seeking an academically challenging program that would complement my already rigorous career. I wanted a program that could aid me in shaping the world around me in the most meaningful way possible.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed developing relationships and friendships with my incredible cohort.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson gained was that when faced with a mental and physical challenge, your team could help you find equilibrium, ground, and strength. It was an invaluable milestone that enabled me to take the next step in my career.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Life as a doctor, mother and EMBA never slows down even in a Los Angeles traffic jam. In a busy medical practice, there is always work to be done. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with a talented group of students to put together a brand inventory for my organization. The project afforded me the ability to work on a real organizational challenge. I got to use my creativity and spend time with family putting together a marketing campaign.

My daughter was the leading character in the ad campaign and loved making memories with me.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? My advice would be to involve your family, friends and immediate colleagues in your journey. The relationships will grow stronger and they will anchor you in the process.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth is that I would be burnt out trying to attend school, family and continue my same workload. It has been very busy and I have become very effective in prioritizing. This has enabled me to balance everything.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I have no regrets. I have enjoyed and cherished every moment of my education. I would do it all over again with zero regret. I love to learn and be challenged in every aspect of my life.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are many amazing women at Anderson who personify exactly who I aspire to be. They embody a truly diversified personal portfolio of knowledge, resilience and humility. The women in my class bring balance to learning, driving change and perspective to sculpt and strengthen the fragility seen in our world.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I walked into Korn Hall during an open house and saw the diversity of flags on the wall and potential students around me. I knew at that moment that I was exactly where I needed to be.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…continuing to work on making an impact on the health of our communities.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate goal is to bring the key learnings of a business school education to graduate medical education. Physicians are faced with similar business decisions and leadership roles but are not exposed to it during medical education. Educating physicians is my cause and this is the future of graduate medical education.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as someone who works hard, plays hard and is resourcefully creative.

Favorite book: The Joy Luck Club.

Favorite movie or television show: It’s a Wonderful Life. It makes me cry every time and appreciate every moment in my life.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? The top two items include traveling to Japan and Italy.

What made Marisa Vasquez Machuca such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Marisa was raised in small rural area in Mexico by a single mother, a farmworker and immigrant who maintained two jobs. Education and perseverance were two things that Marisa valued most as she grew up and set her sights on achieving a degree in higher education. Though Marisa faced a number of challenges along the way, including learning discrepancies and socioeconomic hardships, her hard work and “the engine that could” optimism helped her to develop a ‘can do’ personality that has been an invaluable addition to the EMBA class of 2018, both as a leader and a contributor.

Marisa’s impressive profile exceeds her dual roles as Division of Sports Medicine Physician in Charge and Sports Medicine Fellowship Program Director at Kaiser Permanente. She is one of the few fellowship-trained Latina sports medicine physicians in the country and has always had a passion for encouraging future leaders in the community. She found that her education and experience at Anderson provided the tools to “empower other Latino students to be the best that they can be and make our society an equitable and caring environment in which to live and thrive.”

Marisa’s personality and leadership skills are evident in the various levels of responsibility and leadership roles she maintains at Kaiser. Concurrently, she holds chairs in a number of areas within Kaiser that include research, faculty development and sports medicine. According to the former chief of her current department at Kaiser, Marisa is an “extremely affable person and a trusted team player [with] great self-confidence, balanced with a keen sense of respect for others’ opinions.” In addition, she serves as a committee member for several groups committed to addressing physical health care concerns and the mental health crisis on a national level. Marisa’s ultimate goal is to find a way to combine business school education with graduate medical school education, which would help physicians address management and leadership matters, subjects that are not currently part of a medical school curriculum.

Marisa regularly receives recognition for her efforts, including several teaching awards and Physician Leaders Awards. Even with her demanding life as a mother, MBA student and physician, Marisa has always made a point to give back to the community, 9which ranges from assisting with medical services for underserved populations and the Special Olympics to mentoring underserved youth interested in medicine.”

Christina Marentes

Associate Director of Admissions for UCLA Anderson Executive MBA and UCLA-NUS Executive MBA



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