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He's the boss: Perez went from outlet store part-timer to corporate head in Mexico

JD Perez
Jon David 'J.D.' Perez is the corporate head of retail and visual merchandising for Hugo Boss in Mexico.

He's the boss

By Jacque Crouse

Perez went from outlet store part-timer to corporate head in Mexico

After graduating from Texas State, Jon David “J.D.” Perez thought he would end up working with someone like Michael Dell — being “a cool computer guy” in Austin. He never dreamed that a part-time job at an outlet mall would lead him to climb a different corporate ladder.

Perez (B.B.A. ’05), now a 36-year-old husband and father of two, lives in Mexico City where he is the corporate head of retail and visual  merchandising for German fashion house Hugo Boss. He is also a member of the Texas State University Development Foundation Leadership Council and served on the advisory board for the McCoy College Institute for Global Business.

Born in Austin and raised in San Marcos by a single mother, Perez says he did not plan to attend his hometown university, but a campus tour made all the difference. “Everyone was so happy, nice, and smiling. I felt it was a very diverse campus, and I told my mom I would go to Texas State, but I was not going to live at home!” At least, not after that first semester.

As a Bobcat, he was studying computer information systems and enjoying being a member of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc. Before his freshman year began, Perez got a job with Hugo Boss at San Marcos Premium Outlets. In his first year working at the outlet, Perez’s assistant manager told him their store would close in three months.

“Only one store in Texas was going to stay open, not ours. I told them they were wrong; we would be the store to remain open. They did not  understand the clientele at our store,” he says. Not surprisingly, when his sales numbers proved Perez to be right, the San Marcos store remained open.

In his junior year, an economics professor introduced Perez to a program where he could double major in computer information systems and business management, with an emphasis in Latin American markets. Following his graduation, Perez took a job in the computer field in Austin. His store manager encouraged him to work that job during the week and stay with the store on weekends.

“I did that for nine months and realized that the computer thing was not for me,” he says. The following year Perez was named store manager. By this time, Perez had married his wife, Lucy, and they had started a family.

When the corporate district manager asked Perez what he wanted from his career, he had a ready answer: “I said, no offense, but I want your job. I didn’t want to be a store manager all my life.” When an area manager position opened up, Perez took it and found himself traveling around the Midwest.

“In New York, they didn’t understand why we did all the business we do at Easter,and I had to explain how our clients from Mexico shopped,” he says. “One year, I told them not to order too much in early fall as September 16 (Independence Day in Mexico) fell on Saturday, and I knew sales would be down.”

The Hugo Boss hierarchy began to recognize his understanding of Latin American markets. When the director of retail position opened in Mexico City, Perez jumped on it. He has since traveled the world, learning the corporate business and visual merchandising. He regularly travels to New York and Germany and has grown his area’s portfolio 300 percent in five years.

“I am really blessed. I like to tell people I am not your boss, I am your coach,” Perez says. “I really care about my teams, and I don’t have a problem rolling up my sleeves, getting on a ladder, and helping at a store. I am here to change people’s lives.”

His best advice?

“Be passionate, be patient, but most important be humble. Employers like people who are all three of those things.”