Bringing Work and Service Together
Tannya Gaxiola, Eller Finance and Marketing ’99
Tannya Gaxiola grew up in Tucson and came to the UA to study finance and marketing. “At the beginning, I was really focused on international business, particularly Europe and Asia, but after a few years, I decided I wanted to work on Wall Street,” she says.
After graduation, she moved to New York and worked as an investment banker for one year. Then a telecom startup lured her away. “It had a Latin American focus, and there was a lot of travel,” she says. She relocated to Fort Lauderdale, which is where she was living when the Internet bubble burst and she lost her job. “I was fortunate because I was hired on to AOL Latin America right away,” she says. She spent four years with the company in corporate finance, then began thinking about grad school. A colleague suggested that she look into his alma mater, Harvard, and she did.
In 2004, she entered the Harvard MBA program. “There’s not a huge minority population at Harvard, and Latinos are especially underrepresented,” she says. “Growing up in Tucson, it seemed like every other person was Mexican, so it was an eye-opener for me.” Gaxiola joined the Latino Student Organization and became president.
After graduation, she joined Bain and Company as a strategy consultant. This year she returned to Tucson to restart a business she co-founded with her father, QuikHelp. “We originally started it while I was at the UA,” she says. “It’s a legal document preparation business that’s focused on providing documents for a market that might not otherwise have access to attorneys.”
Gaxiola’s family is Mexican; her father came to Tucson 30 years ago for law school. “My dad has been active in the community throughout his career,” she says. “This is a great way to marry work life with giving back to the community.”
QuikHelp is based in South Tucson and focuses on the Latino market. Gaxiola and her father provide affordable, high-quality legal documents and are fully bilingual. “When you’re filing papers in court, you want to feel confident that everything is in order,” Gaxiola explains. Arizona is one of the few states in the country that requires a license for legal document preparation, and Gaxiola recently sat for the exam.
“Part of what’s been fun for me is that when we started the business the first time, I was just learning marketing and finance principles that I applied along the way. Now I have so much real-world experience, the approach is night and day.”
Beyond her work with QuikHelp, Gaxiola has stayed involved with the Harvard Latino Alumni Association, where she was a founding member and now a board member. As an Eller alum, she is active in Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), a 30-year-old organization that provides internship opportunities to underrepresented minorities. “The goal,” she says, “is to help UA students get high-level jobs in Fortune 500 companies.”