(Nov. 1, 2017) -- Meet Jesse Vargas ’96. He found his calling in leadership at UTSA and now manages Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
Growing up in Crystal City, Texas, Vargas had a head for business from a young age.
“I went to my elementary school with a briefcase instead of a backpack,” he said.
Vargas was likely taking after his father and grandfather, both entrepreneurs whom he admired deeply. His father, who owned an electronics repair and sales company, took Vargas along on buying trips when he was a child.
By the time Vargas was in high school, his family had moved to San Antonio and was adamant that he earn a college degree.
“We went on tours of campuses, and I applied to various schools, but UTSA always felt like my home university and the one I needed to attend,” he said.
When he arrived at UTSA in 1991, he quickly immersed himself in the campus culture, finding a welcoming, diverse community that allowed him to have an active social life to balance with his studies in the College of Business.
“I applied myself in the right ways,” he said. “UTSA really helped me to learn how to learn. I’ve always been a very curious person but I think college is the best time to seek out knowledge, because what you learn as a college student tends to inform the rest of your life.”
Vargas recalled that the last two years of his time at UTSA were the most challenging as well as the most rewarding. He participated in a mentorship program with the management team at SeaWorld, which helped him learn how to craft business objectives for a company. The experience continues to inform his work today.
In 1996, Vargas graduated from UTSA with an undergraduate degree in business, with a concentration in leadership and management. While in school, he worked nearby at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
Eventually, he moved on to other jobs in the entertainment and hospitality industry, including senior management roles at the San Francisco Zoo and at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.
In 2014, he discovered an opportunity to work for Ferrari World Abu Dhabi as its general manager and immediately jumped at it.
He now lives in the United Arab Emirates, and among his many responsibilities is bringing people from all over the world to the park, which is home to the world’s fastest roller coaster.
“Living and working in Abu Dhabi has been an invaluable experience,” Vargas said. “We have 68 different nationalities working in the park and people from 167 different countries have visited. It’s an incredible mix of cultures and approaches to business.”
Vargas frequently draws on his time at UTSA to lead a diverse group of people and motivate tourists from other cultures to visit Ferrari World.
“I really enjoy seeing visitors experience the park,” he said. “Everyone sees it a different way, and it’s great being a part of their vacation. We’re creating memories. People save their whole lives to experience this once-in-a-lifetime visit; it’s definitely something I hold very dear to my heart.”
Vargas also travels internationally quite frequently for his job and has been moved by the presence of UTSA t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts in airports on the other side of the world.
“It’s amazing to travel to London and see people wearing UTSA gear in the airport, in this international crowd,” he said. “It’s been amazing to see UTSA grow, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Do you know a Roadrunner who is achieving great things? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may consider your suggestion for our next installment of Meet a Roadrunner.
Experience a fun, interactive week at UTSA as new students and their families take the first steps to becoming a Roadrunner.Various locations, Main Campus and Downtown Campuses
Throughout the summer, UTSA offers more than 60 camps in science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing, language, culture and more.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
This event guides seniors and graduate students on the last phase of their college career and prepares recent alumni within one year of graduation for the world of work. Workshops and sessions will provide information on interview skills, job search strategies and networking.Student Union, University Career Center, 2nd floor, Main Campus
The gala brings together UTSA alumni, friends and guests to celebrate the association's 41 years of scholarships, services, programs and the 2018 Alumni Award recipients.Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr, San Antonio
As part of the citywide Kidcation and the ITC's free second Sunday, kids and families will have an opportunity to interact with cowboy docents, practice their skills at roping, learn about life on the cattle drives, make their own spurs, grab a seat for cowboy story time and work on cowboy-themed hands-on crafts.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Dozens of fun and free events to welcome new and returning Roadrunners.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The kickoff to Roadrunner Days, the UTSA community welcomes the thousands of students who move in to their new homes as they begin their journey at UTSA.Laurel Village, Chaparral Village and Alvarez Hall, Main Campus
After a full day of moving, UTSA students and their families are invited to the party featuring food, swag, dancing and a special performance from the Spirit of San Antonio marching band.Student Union Paseo, Main Campus