From Shoe Dog to Design Manager
A balance of passions and personality crafts a fulfilling career
Melissa Segura is a Project Manager at argodesign and has worn a number of hats since her serendipitous start 7 years ago. Guided by her steadfast ambition and the unwavering support of her family, Melissa has nurtured her innate ability to walk fearlessly down the path of life. From the quiet suburbs of Texas to the bustling streets of New York City, her fundamental skills have prepared her to embrace new opportunities with unbridled enthusiasm.
Where does your argo journey begin?
My argo history can actually be traced back to the sales floor at Nordstrom. I spent most of my twenties juggling retail jobs and college life in the hopes of becoming a radio journalist for ESPN, covering my favorite teams and athletes (mostly Dirk Nowitzki). After graduating with a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas, I had to choose between taking an entry-level job in a market that would force me to move away from my family or staying at Nordstrom, a job I really enjoyed. After an internship with CBS Sports radio, I chose to keep the career as a Shoe Dog and within a year I was off to Austin on a promotion.
One night in the early fall of 2015, a Nordstrom colleague sent me a text about a job opening where her husband worked. I went in for an interview, despite the fact that I had no idea what the company did. After several visits with the team, I got the call that I would be argo’s first office manager. It was different than anything I ever expected to be doing as a career, but I wanted a change. I took the leap, and I never looked back.
Did you feel prepared to shift your career so suddenly in a new direction?
When I came into the design industry I felt a bit lost and out of my element, but soon realized that the skills I had cultivated over a decade in retail were applicable to this new role. Customer experience in a retail setting isn’t that different from user experience design in the digital space. You get to know an array of customers and come up with solutions to offer them the best experience. A salesperson listens to customers the same way a designer listens to users and anticipates their expectations.
I joined argo during the early years and worked closely with the fast-growing team to form what would become our company culture. During my 4 years as Office Manager, I had a hand in IT work, finance reporting, marketing events, and studio operations, planning everything from what is in the fridge to managing the termites in a conference room. Again, it was all about details and offering a great experience for everyone that walked through the door.
Working in retail, I learned quickly that I had to stay organized to juggle whatever was thrown my way. It wasn’t uncommon to find me staying late and coming in early to prepare the sales floor for a corporate review. My ambitious attitude didn’t change when I started at argo; in fact, I had to be reminded to slow down and take a step back. That became easier as our team grew and I handed off some of the operations responsibilities and started working at a more ingrained level with the creative team as a Project Manager.
Your family has had a profound impact on your journey. How has your history played a part in shaping your future?
Growing up in the suburbs of Dallas, my experience with my Mexican-American culture developed as I navigated my career, strengthening my appreciation along the way. I was born and raised in Texas and my family has deep roots in Mexico. My grandfather left my mother a piece of land in a small town—although at the time she was a dedicated single mother raising me and my four younger siblings, so we weren’t able to visit as much as we wanted. I blinked and 20 years went by while she kept us focused on education and careers. Only then we were finally able to start building the house my mom had been dreaming of. As I grew up, my mom taught me to work hard and stay committed to my dreams, and now I have the honor of helping her turn her dreams into reality.
The house in San Nicolas Tolentino is my favorite place in the world. It’s a small town, and there are days we don’t have running water, or the whole town is without power. When we started the project, it was hard to know where to begin and what to prioritize. I had a little notebook that I used to keep track of everything. My uncle would say, “Here she comes with her notebook!” and my mother would run in the other direction. She hated sitting there with me and the list, knowing she would have to make decisions. But it’s the practice I refined with argo, that I had started learning when I was at Nordstrom. My role as a project manager has always been connected with my desire to care for the people I love. It was more than picking paint colors; we were imagining the place where we’ll grow old together. I poured my heart and soul into the foundation of that house, knowing how much meaning it holds for her. When I walk through the door, I’m welcomed by the memories of the life we built together and I feel completely at home.
What does the next phase look like for you?
I remember during my final interview, argo founder Mark Rolston told me that there is nothing that I was going to do here that wasn’t important, and that has stuck with me every day since. It motivated me to pivot to working as a Project Manager, and now I’m gearing up to make the move from Austin to join our team in New York City.
We’ve created a space at argo where we’re encouraged to seek out creativity beyond the studio doors. Having the flexibility to spend time in Mexico, I can nourish the part of me that longs for a structural connection to my culture. In New York, there’s culture bursting from every street corner and it energizes the work we do. My story is inextricably woven into the fabric of argo’s flagship Austin studio, in the same way that studio has shaped my design experience and the network I’ve built.
In the worst case scenario, I’ll always have the foundation of my family to fall back on in case I come running back to Texas, but I think I’ll be okay.
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