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G ilroy-born Mike Loza, Corporate Director of Business Development for Sanveo, a corporation that, he said, “builds buildings in a virtual space before they’re built in the physical space,” had what he calls a “defining moment” about his career in the middle of digging a trench during his first job out of college. The Santa Clara University graduate said he came out of school with a “naïve” vision of getting his career started. “I thought, I’ve got this degree, now people are just going to come bang down my door and I’m going to find my dream job that way.” As it turned out, that did not happen right away. He took a job with a mechanical contractor while he figured out his future. “Though I had a degree from a prestigious university, I was out there, literally with a pick and shovel in my hand, knee-deep in muddy water, digging trenches.” One day, in the midst of that physical labor on the golf course of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, he watched with great curiosity as businessmen walked the course. Eventually he got into a conversation with one of them to ask what he did. “He told me, ‘I’m dealing with my clients, just having a good time on the golf course, trying to make business happen.’” This was the moment when Loza chose to pull him- self out of the trenches and launch into the business world. He is quick to point out that he finds no shame in hard, physical work. “I just f elt destined for more,” he said. Jumping the Tracks The youngest of eight siblings who were raised in Gilroy by immigrant parents from Mexico, Loza said he “grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and could easily have fallen into a different lifestyle.” However, he learned many good lessons from his older siblings, who lived positively and inspired him to dream bigger for himself. He also credits his father’s strong work ethic as “an excellent role model when it came to work.” However, education was not something his parents were able to model because they were too busy working to survive and provide for their children. Education was in the cards for Loza, however, and he did very well in school. He briefly entertained the notion of going to law school and “becoming some hot shot lawyer,” but a few pre-law courses helped him see that this was not the path for him. “I didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day,” he said. He credits mentors along the way for positive inspiration and always seeing the best in him. One man, Eric Westfall, “identified certain aspects or talents in me and said, ‘Mike, you’re going to do great things in life.’” Mentorship was so important to him, he paid it forward by working as a youth mentor for the Department of Family and Children’s Services for the County of Santa Clara while still in college. After college, he started an alumni group for graduates of Santa Clara University, a “networking-slash- philanthropic group called the Bronco Builders.” GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN An Executive Leap Eventually he made his way into the industry of construction technology. When a friend sought to bring him over to Sanveo, his little startup company, it took 18 months of wooing before Loza finally came on board. His former employer’s ethics ultimately did not align with his own, but his friend’s did. “I saw his vision, I saw his passion, and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said. He was brought on to Sanveo as part of the executive team, to run the sales department. At the time it was a leap of faith, because he was leaving a sure-thing corporate job for a smaller startup. With his wife newly pregnant, he said the move “was kind of scary but I felt it in my soul it was the right move to make.” Indeed. He has helped grow the company from approximately $3 million in annual sales to almost $11 million in a little over two years. They’ve also expanded staff and geographical areas including such places as Los Angeles, Las Vegas and North Carolina. He and his wife plan to grow their family, too. Their daughter is 18 months old and they hope for a second child, soon. They just bought a home in Morgan Hill, as well, which will make it easier for him to commute to the airport for work-related travel. Loza has learned several key lessons over the course of his career. First, “There is no such thing as failure. It’s an opportunity to grow and to learn and it’s all about having the right attitude.” Second, he urges others setting out on the career path to make their own “luck” which he describes as preparation plus opportunity. He said he can look at his own missteps and stumbles and see that each time, “I just had to believe in myself.” OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2018 gmhtoday.com 31