Henry Rabello, MIB '95
Graziadio Spotlight Stories
How did Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School contribute to your current success?
"After getting my undergrad degree from Pepperdine, I started at Seaver, then moved over to the Business School to study International Business. As part of that program, I studied in Germany, and there was a requirement that we had to do a local internship. Fortunately, it was how I started my career with Nike. As luck and fate would have it, I landed the internship with them. I've worked with Nike ever since."
How would you define the "Pepperdine difference"?
"There is no other school that can match Pepperdine's genuine personal interest in its students. I grew up in Brazil, but I wanted to go to school and pursue athletics in the U.S. I knew there were barriers that would keep me back – primarily, money and the language barrier, because I spoke no English. My father helped me to write letters to different universities and ask about opportunities. For the most part, we got no replies, and the few we received were form letters. But one day, we received a personal letter from Pepperdine's water polo coach, Terry Schroeder, saying that they wanted to meet me. I'll never forget that personal touch, and that says volumes about the Pepperdine difference. I'll always be so grateful and thankful."
Do you have a favorite class or memory?
"I've always had a strong desire to immerse myself in other cultures. In 1995, I traveled to China with a group of fellow students. We went to seven cities and I was able to truly get a sense of the people and culture. The trip reinforced my intention to keep a global perspective in my personal and professional life."
What is one piece of advice you would give to current/prospect students?
"One of my best lessons learned from Graziadio was that I'm responsible for my own life blueprint. My advice is to not limit yourself to any sort of "traditional" path because you think that's expected. I was very involved in the sports world and played for the professional water polo team before I began my graduate studies. As I was finishing the program, Nike was willing to give me flexibility to travel with the team. If it wasn't for Graziadio, I wouldn't have had the confidence or acumen to ask."
How does your degree help you to make a positive impact in your communities or in the world?
"I'm very, very lucky and proud to work for Nike, especially because of their values and their desire to help people while promoting sports. A great example is their approach to philanthropy around the Rio Olympics. I learned in school that many cities become "Games-centric," with a temporary economic and social boost around the Games that fades when they are no longer on the world stage. We don't want that to happen in Rio, especially because it will affect youth. Research told us that Brazilian children are the least active in Latin America, and they don't usually venture more than a kilometer from their homes to play sports. So Nike partners with the City to support almost two dozen community centers for local youth, with volunteer support and financial support for products and to refurbish the centers. We're thoughtful about how we can make a lasting impact, especially for girls, so we create and support local sports programs that are centered on potential future athletes. We believe that more sports will lead us all to a better country. We're not going to leave a ghost town behind. We're going to provide a legacy."
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
"Professionally, I'm exactly where I want to be right now, so I can still see myself as part of the Nike team. Not matter where I am, I want to continue to explore other cultures, to learn from them and contribute to them. A lot of that comes back to Graziadio. I'm able to continue growing because I learned how to learn there."