Graduated in 2017 with a major in Professional Music. Principal instrument: Percussion. Note; Gustavo received his diploma from Berklee in 2001.
Position: Retail Store Manager at Conn’s Homeplus, which sells furniture, appliances, and electronics with almost 200 locations across the United States. Gustavo manages roughly 15 employees at his store location.
Overview: When Gustavo first went to Berklee, he chose to do music courses exclusively in order to start his music career as soon as possible. After graduation, he gigged around for years in different locations and ended up in L.A. doing many corporate and jazz gigs. But he battled a drug addition, having been in bands with people who used drugs, and in 2008 he “hit bottom” He spent the next few years focusing on himself and recovery, moved back home to Florida and worked a variety of non-music jobs, eventually ending up at a music retail store working his way up into a leadership position. Gustavo really enjoyed sales, and wanted to go into a retail managerial position, but that meant getting an MBA, which in turn meant finishing his bachelors degree.
Gustavo kept working at this store, while in 2013 he started Berklee’s Degree Completion Program part-time, taking classes through Berklee Online as well as remote one-on-one lessons. He applied to business schools as he was finishing up, and went straight from finishing Berklee into a 2.5-year part-time MBA program at Florida International University., which he finished in March, 2020. He had discovered Conn’s and had been interviewing for a while, so went straight from finishing business school into a job as an assistant store manager. After six months, Gustavo indicated that he wanted a promotion, and was wiling to “go anywhere.” He was promoted into his current job.
You can see Gustavo’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “It’s quite a fun job that’s mostly face-to-face interactions with employees and customers. Running operations, managing people, managing the inventory that comes in and out.”
“A lot of my success is because before I get to the store I’m[ already checking emails, making sure things are running properly, so that when I get to the store I’m already caught up and am not bombarded or blindsided, so I’m not distracted from making it a great day.”
“At Berklee you’re surrounded by creative people 24/7. I try to use that creativity in my current role. It makes me a different kind of leader and thinker.”
“Whatever you decide to do, persistence and determination and focus are paramount. Failures will turn into opportunities — the mistakes that I made redirected my career. The bottom line is you’re going to make mistakes and may not end up where you thought. You’ve got to keep an open mind. Be humble, and be flexible.”
“If you want to be a retail store manager, know that at the end of the day it’s people leadership, so a strong focus on interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, people development — study these things! Take some public speaking courses to get the communication skills you’ll need to communicate your vision to your team properly. Also, it’s a demanding job where the work/life balance isn’t the best. Don’t put too much on your plate.”
See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.