Life at Wizeline

Humans of Wizeline: Alexis López

Humans of Wizeline: Alexis López

Alexis López is a Senior Client Partner & Delivery Director leading a portfolio that includes top brands in the media and entertainment industry. With over five years of experience working at Wizeline, Alexis offers a unique perspective to IT professionals and new Wizeliners alike who aspire to grow their careers. In this interview, he tells his story of what it was like growing up in the working-class communities of Guadalajara and Monterrey before going on to become the first person in his family to pursue a career in tech.

Alexis was born in Guadalajara on the outskirts of the city within an area commonly referred to as the “poverty belt.” He describes his neighborhood as a tough place to grow up with many challenges. Despite these difficulties, Alexis speaks with a strong sense of pride when reflecting on his childhood experiences and the people in his life who inspired him to pursue his dreams, which for him were truly the crux of his story.

Alexis spent the early years of his childhood attending public schools. He proudly refers to himself as a product of the Mexican public school system. “A lot of people bash public education,” explains Alexis. “I don’t because I went to public schools and believe in public education.” Despite not having many educational resources at home, Alexis constantly performed at the top of his class. “I was always very lucky,” he says. “Whatever I was taught in school stuck with me. I could remember things easily, which helped me advance in my education.”

At the age of 12, his family moved to Monterrey, where he attended high school and later college. Alexis qualified for scholarships during those years that allowed him to attend private schools, but only temporarily. He believes this opportunity has been advantageous for him because it allowed him to develop a broad perspective on life. “When you go to a public school in a poor neighborhood, and then you move to a private school in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, you see a fuller spectrum of society — it was very eye-opening,” he explains.

Alexis attributes his success to the work ethic he learned from his family. “My ethic doesn’t come from college or a book I read,” he explains. “It came from my grandfather who used to load trucks and trains — it was tough work.” When he was a kid, Alexis aspired to be like his grandfather, who he says was his hero. Alexis also talks with great admiration about his uncle, who works on the bakery line at Bimbo, a Mexican multinational company that bakes and distributes bread and pastries worldwide. “If you talk with him about how they make pastries, you just want to go and buy some,” Alexis says. “He is so passionate about his work. He’s not a supervisor. He doesn’t control production. He doesn’t have a fancy job. He just makes bread. My uncle feeds millions of people. He never complains about work being too hard, and that’s meaningful to me. I’m proud of him.” As he reflects on his family’s influence on him, Alexis says that their dedication to their work helps him align his moral compass. “They’re mechanics, construction workers, bus drivers, cleaners, nannies, and nurses — they’re the people that keep the country running.”

When asked why he decided to pursue a career in technology, Alexis recalls a particular occasion that greatly impacted him: “This woman named Toña, who was a friend of my mom, drove this metallic blue Chevy. To me, that car represented success. I remember one day she asked me, ‘Hey, Alexis. What are you going to study?’ And you know, the problem for me was that I was interested in everything. I wanted to be a biologist and a chemist; I wanted to study philosophy, history, and geography. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” He remembers telling her that he didn’t know what he would choose to study, but he really wanted a car like hers and to live abroad. In response, she advised him to study physics and mathematics, major in computer science, and then earn a master’s in teleinformation because if he did so, she guaranteed that he would have a job for the next 50 years. According to Alexis, that was all he needed to hear. He decided to pursue a career in computer science. 

He attended Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, where he earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in computer science. While at college, Alexis participated in a college exchange program that took him to Universidad de Concepción in Chile to study informatics engineering for a year. While at the university, Alexis fell in love with mathematics. It was the first time he experienced what he refers to as “pure mathematics,” theory that goes beyond memorization and requires cognitive resources. Even though he idolized the study of physics and mathematics, when the time came to make a choice, Alexis decided to specialize in computer science to ensure that he could get a proper job with good pay once he graduated.

A friend of his who moved to Guadalajara to work for Flextronics, the third-largest global electronics manufacturer, invited Alexis to apply for a position on their e-commerce team. Alexis describes the interview process as his first “wow moment” in the tech industry. “They called to invite me for an on-site interview,” he explains. “And I was like, ‘Okay, can you give me a few weeks to save up the money for a plane ticket?’ But they told me that they were paying to bring me to Guadalajara for the interview.” Although Alexis already knew he wanted the job, he accepted their invitation. They flew him in, showed him the campus, and offered him the job. “It was amazing. I was like, wow, this is an international company. Their electronic commerce platform is huge, and they want me to work on it.” Alexis accepted the job and moved back to his home city.

A couple of years later, one of his friends who had worked at Flextronics left the company to work at a new start-up in Guadalajara called Ooyala — the first company founded by Bismarck Lepe, Wizeline’s founder and CEO. He reached out to Alexis and invited him to work at Ooyala. Still, Alexis decided to stay with Flextronics because he was being considered for a management position — a decision he later regretted. After only a year in his new role, Alexis decided to leave Flextronics to join a small start-up where he worked as a solutions engineer for three years before the company was acquired and the entire team in Mexico was let go.

He then joined Hewlett-Packard as a contractor in charge of their e-commerce platform. Alexis enjoyed his time at HP; he felt challenged in his work and even had the opportunity to travel to Germany for training. But after nearly two years with the company, a new opportunity presented itself that he couldn’t pass up.

Ever since I turned down the offer to work at Ooyala, I was looking for an opportunity to work for Bismarck because his life story resonated with my own. I was like, that guy knows my journey."

So when he heard about Wizeline, he applied and was hired as a Technical Project Manager assigned to the Dow Jones account. As the account grew, so too did Alexis’s role — first as a project manager, then senior project manager, then one of the first delivery managers to the first delivery director, and finally as the first client partner. He gained more experience and began taking over new projects. Eventually, Alexis learned the account better than anyone else at Wizeline. Over time, he took on more accounts.

Alexis describes his growth at Wizeline as organic, saying that he has grown with the company. At the same time, he recognizes that organic growth is not always fair, that things can happen that might disadvantage talented, hard-working people. He feels a personal commitment to ensure that others have the same opportunities as him. “I’m so grateful for my position, and I want to give the same chance to more people,” explains Alexis.

The more we grow, the more chances we all have to grow; it creates more opportunities for me to help others to replicate similar growth on their career journeys. Developing the next generation of leaders is a top priority for me, so much so that I've made it one of my KPIs."

While Alexis got his start at Wizeline because of his technical background, he quickly realized that he would need to develop additional skills in order to grow professionally while also helping the company. He mentions a time when he noticed a gap between sales and project management and was looking for a solution to bridge the gap, but realized that to do so, he would need to improve his executive communication skills. “I was nervous talking to executives and directors because I was used to talking only in technical terms,” explains Alexis. “So, for example, I decided to ask for advice from Matt McCawley [Wizeline Managing Director] to help me with proofreading messages.” Alexis often looked for opportunities to take the initiative in ways that directly contributed to the company’s success: learning about the commercial aspect of the business, proactively asking for feedback on his performance and areas for improvement, pitching new ideas to the executive team, and more.

Perhaps the most important lesson Alexis has learned during his time at Wizeline is the importance of taking ownership. Reflecting on conversations with leaders over the years, Alexis describes feeling a sense of empowerment to take risks without worrying about mistakes. “I remember being told by Vidal Gonzalez, Wizeline Co-Founder and former CTO, not to ask for permission, but instead he said, ‘Just do it — run your experiments.’ And there was one time that Wendy Johansson, our former VP of UX, told me to fail fast but learn faster. Hearing these pieces of advice made me feel empowered. I had their support and knew that it’s okay if the results aren’t there right away as long as you have the customer in mind.” He admits that he has made plenty of mistakes over the years, but now sees it as an opportunity to grow his expertise and develop the skills to think more strategically.

Alexis encourages others to also look beyond their roles at Wizeline for ways to improve how we work and deliver value to our customers and each other. He speaks emphatically about the role passion plays in the drive for excellence. “My advice to Wizeliners, especially the more junior members or our team, is don’t lose your passion,” he says. “Other things like programming languages, you can learn, but you cannot be taught passion. Don’t get so lost in the day-to-day tasks that you forget what drives you because it’s your drive that will be noticed; that’s how you earn new opportunities.” For Wizeliners who simply are not passionate about their work on a specific project, Alexis suggests finding something that interests them at Wizeline. He says they should contact the responsible team on the project to find out if there’s an opportunity to get involved, whether with a customer or an extracurricular like Wizeline Academy. “You are not a cat,” he says jokingly. “Curiosity will not kill you. So be curious, reach out to others, get involved and collaborate. There is no doubt in my mind that you will find what you need.” He admits that it’s not always immediate, but going the extra mile and demonstrating your interest to others will get you known as someone who is driven and passionate.

Alexis’s passion goes beyond his work at Wizeline. In his personal life, he is a voracious consumer of the fine arts and literature. Alexis describes his typical week as involving taking at least one trip to the movie theater, visiting a museum, and attending a Metropolitan Opera. He casually mentions the Opera is only a 15-minute walk from his New York City apartment. And he buys a new book every couple of weeks to keep up with his enjoyment of daily reading. He is a self-described aspiring botanical photographer, shooting mostly flowers — he uses a Sony A77II with a 50-millimeter lens — and posting them on his Instagram. “I do the whole enchilada: I shoot them in RAW format and edit them.” His interest in the visual arts goes beyond still life photography. He also studies film direction and production and writes movie scripts. His favorite directors are Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky. When asked how he has the time to do so much, Alexis says that he doesn’t watch TV, but he does spend much of his time reading. He recommends everyone should read On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, an epistolary novel by Ocean Vuong, the Mexican novel Pedro Páramo written by Juan Rulfo, as well as James Baldwin’s poetry.

As he thinks back over his tenure at Wizeline, Alexis reminisces about his early years when every day felt like a party. The team was small, and everyone knew each other. It wasn’t unusual to catch up with Bismarck in the kitchen over a glass of mezcal. He says that everyone worked very long hours not because they had to but because it was fun being at the office. When the company began to grow, some of the early Wizeliners were afraid of losing what they loved about working in the small startup environment. “We were growing a lot, and we were wondering if we’re going to keep the culture,” he says. He reflects on how successful companies like HP, Microsoft, and Apple all started small — in garages, but they too underwent changes and growing pains to get to where they are now. “If they always romanticized being in a garage, that’s where they would still be today.”

Contrary to feeling uncertain about growth, he says watching Wizeline mature into an actual company has been amazing. In those early years, even the “silliest issues,” as he describes them, would lead to customer escalations, citing the lack of proper reporting as one example. More to Alexis’s point is that Wizeline’s growth generates more exciting projects for everyone and opportunities to help other Mexicans who grew up under similar circumstances as himself — having a real, tangible impact on their lives.

Although he’s had a lot of success so far in his career, and it may come as a surprise to those who know him from his very active social role in the company, Alexis admits that he struggles with self-confidence. He says it’s still difficult for him to overcome the imposter syndrome that continues to linger despite his success. “When you grow up in a society in which the people in power don’t look like you, you always have in the back of your mind that maybe you’re not doing things correctly,” he says. “Maybe there’s a reason there are no brown people in executive boards in Mexico. I didn’t go to a fancy school, I don’t have an MBA from Harvard, and I don’t speak English properly. That’s how I used to think.” Those thoughts are now in the past for him, and he feels that he is on a promising path.

Though he has achieved so much already, Alexis assures he’s not done yet. In terms of professional ambitions, he wants to one day be an executive — not for the title but because of what it would mean that he achieved along his journey towards that point. “I sometimes watch senior executives on calls, and I want to have that confidence and that same knowledge,” he explains with a heightened level of excitement. At the same time, he shares that on a more personal level, he wants to be at a place in his career where he can do something for the community. He’s not sure if it would be a scholarship or mentorship program. Still, he knows that in the next couple of years, he wants to use his position to create a support network for kids growing up in oppressed communities and without a fair shot at a good education in a safe environment. 

Giving kids like me the opportunities I’ve had, that’s what occupies my mind."

Alexis López, Wizeline Senior Client Partner & Delivery Director
Alexis López, Wizeline Senior Client Partner & Delivery Director

This story was written by Aaron Thomasson, Wizeline Senior Manager, Communications

Courtney Duprey

Posted by Courtney Duprey on April 8, 2022