Marcela Aguilar has a fast-paced job based in the city that never sleeps. But memories of growing up on her family farm -- where she milked cows, grew vegetables and made dirt "cakes" -- in the mountains of Costa Rica keep her grounded.
"It is great to have simple roots that remind you where you come from and what really is important," she said. "It guides my personal and professional decisions daily."
Ms. Aguilar is faced with plenty of both to make these days as a new mom -- her son was born in April -- and as one of the key architects of Gap's turnaround effort. The former ad agency exec was the first external hire made by Seth Farbman, Gap's global CMO, as he began work to help the struggling brand stand out in the increasingly crowded specialty retail space. Her background leading BBDO's global team on the Procter & Gamble business as well as her early years working at BBDO and Rapp Collins in Latin America have given her the insights she needs to help grow Gap's global business.
"It's a great thing before you go global to have the local to balance you," she said. "I spent many years working in Latin America with Mexico, Argentina, Peru receiving global campaigns and ideas, thinking they don't understand locally what we need to do."
Side benefit of working at Gap:
Gets to wear jeans to work every day.
Receptionist at a small local ad agency in Costa Rica. "I was 18 and realized that I really loved advertising and marketing."
Education and resume:
A native Costa Rican, Ms. Aguilar spent her undergraduate years at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica and got a graduate degree from Northwestern University. Gap is her first client-side job.
A new mom, Ms. Aguilar's son was born in April.