Bonillas Raising Bar on Family, Work
Marysela Bonillas apologizes for missing her interview. She had a doctor’s appointment—she is pregnant—and the doctor kept asking if she’d done this and that test. On the phone she is soft spoken, her voice almost childlike. No one would suspect her to be 30 years old and soon to be a mother of two.
No one would likely guess that she’s also a high-powered professional, with 13 years of experience in marketing, formerly an independent consultant and now Vice President of Client Services for The Arrowhead Group in Glendale.
"I love the fact that I get to work with so many unique people. Marketing in itself is just so much fun," says Bonillas, who on a Saturday morning was having her car seat inspected by the fire department.
As a young girl, Bonillas and her family divided their time between Phoenix and her grandparents’ home in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Since she was nine her mother, a single-parent, worked long hours, and Bonillas says she had to "grow up really fast to help with the household." She graduated with honors from South Mountain High School her junior year and enrolled at Arizona State University.
"I wouldn’t change my upbringing for anything because it has made me the strong, determined, successful professional woman that I am today," she says. Indeed, her multicultural background has influenced her career. In one of her first jobs after college, she helped promote MasterCard International in its top-10 Hispanic markets in the United States and Mexico. She’s also held positions with Telemundo KDRX TV64 and Univision Arizona KTVW TV33.
Over the years Bonillas’ clients have included heavy-hitters such as Bank of America, Mahatma Rice, Western Union, Burger King, Best Foods, Sears, Cingular Wireless, and Aid to Adoption of Special Kids.
"Her experience is invaluable," says Ricardo Torres, publisher and CEO of Latino Perspectives Magazine and founder of La Voz newspaper. "Second thing she brings is relationships. She has very deeply-rooted relationships in the Latino market. And then you have her intelligence, her knowledge, her creativity…."
Bonillas took a year hiatus from her career to have her first daughter, Samantha Lissette, who will turn 1 this month. Though now full-time with Arrowhead, she admits that it’s tough to juggle her personal and professional lives, joking about needing an Internet connection in the delivery room when she gives birth to her second daughter, Jasmine.
Clearly, being a mother hasn’t stifled her ambition: "I am committed to my boss, Kyle Eng, to grow the ad agency to a top, nationally-recognized powerhouse. Professionally, I know I can accomplish what I set my mind out to do, and I have great plans for the future."
Look on The Arrowhead Group’s website and you’ll see promotional campaigns for lots of automotive companies, including even one in Honolulu. Eng’s background is in the auto industry. But, Bonillas says, "we’re in the process of doing a lot of reaching out (to other kinds of clients nationally) and that’s one of the reasons I’ve joined the team here."
Bonillas met her husband, Angel Manuel Gonzalez Jr., who grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and works in sales for Verizon Wireless, on the Internet.
"He’s gonna kill me for saying this," Bonillas says. "We were both chatting in a Hispanic professionals chatroom on AOL." Something between the two clicked, and their professional talk progressed to daily phone calls. Several months later, she and a friend flew out to meet Gonzalez in person.
"From that moment we realized at the very least we wanted to give it a shot and date," she says. "It was almost like the two worlds knew one another."
"It’s a fun story," she adds, though not very traditional. And, her husband teases that it’s not one they’ll tell their daughters.
But Bonillas knows what she will share: a durable sense of identity and the belief that anything is possible.
"I hope to be a great mom and friend for my little girls," she says. "My mom was wonderful and she was very supportive … I hope to follow in her footsteps and raise two intelligent and powerful young ladies."