Alumna Works to Lead Business into the Future

By Theodore Davis | September 27, 2021
Margarita Villarreal
Margarita Villarreal | Photo Courtesy of Margarita Villarreal

Economic, environmental and social demands have today's businesses—large and small—reassessing their leadership needs. With a goal of sustainable profitability and growth in the face of these challenges, many businesses have adopted a new leadership paradigm, focusing on the common needs of people, the planet, and business profitability.

Margarita Villarreal, a graduate of the Texas A&M University-Central Texas Master of Science in Leadership for Sustainability program, explained her degree studies have prepared her to meet those "Triple Bottom Line" challenges.

“The two years I spent in the Leadership for Sustainability program [were] the most fun in education I’ve ever had,” she said. “I truly became a scholar.”

The Triple Bottom Line emphasizes a business focus on people, planet, and profit, in that order, she said. Leadership for Sustainability’s program goal is the creation of leaders to take businesses into a new age. Villarreal is a great example, a dedicated student who has continued her studies through extensive fieldwork in conservation.

She recalled her experiences in both undergraduate and graduate programs at A&M-Central Texas. As an undergraduate, she studied business administration, and the program showed her the foundations of the field. Still, when it came to what she wanted to do moving forward, she felt called to something different. Leadership for Sustainability was exactly what she had been looking for.

The program gave her a new appreciation for the complexity and nuance of business, and its principles left an impression on Villarreal’s ambitions. Even past graduation, she has continued to build on them.

Moving beyond pure research, she has dedicated much of her time to doing fieldwork. This gives her hands-on interaction with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adopted by the United Nations, the 17 SDGs are guidelines for improving living conditions worldwide while preserving the environment.

“As a leader for sustainability, the best way I know to learn more about the SDGs is to have living experience with them in their own targets,” she said.

Her current project involves working with the Arizona Conservation Corps. There she does the best she can to ensure the preservation of the natural ecosystem. Her work takes her all over the region, where she confronts the effects of forest fires and other environmental damage.

“I have been exposed to conservation and restoration, preventing invasive species from attacking the forest,” she said.

Villarreal is devoted to both the project and the people on her team. She encourages each one of them to look inward and find purpose in what they do. Together, they work hard to change the world for their future children, grandchildren, and many generations to come. A perfect example of what the Master of Science in Leadership for Sustainability strives to create, she has found adventure and new understanding in continuing to guide others forward. There are no better words to use than her own:

“I am a leader for sustainability.”

Virtual Advisor