Unlocking Career Success: Travel Fuels a Fulfilling Career for NIU Alumnus, Mig Pascual, ’07
By Lia Kizilbash Gillet
Beyond the allure of relaxation and adventure, have you ever considered the impact of travel on your professional life? For NIU College of Business alumnus Mig Pascual ’07, globe-trotting has been a transformative journey that extends far beyond personal enjoyment.
A marketing operations manager at GE HealthCare (GEHC), Pascual attributes his success at a fast-paced Fortune 500 company to his curiosity, sense of adventure and ability to handle uncertainty — qualities he developed through experiences in over 27 countries. His travels, which include hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru, exploring the jungles of Colombia to the “Lost City,” climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and visiting Bhutan to learn about happiness, have not only enriched his life but also imparted invaluable skills for the workplace.
Pascual describes a memorable event during a year-long career sabbatical, biking alone from Costa Rica to Panama along the Pan-American Highway when a sudden storm threatened his journey.
“A large thunderstorm was approaching quickly and unexpectedly. I stopped to figure out where I was and where I could shelter, but all I could locate was a bus stop with very little cover. Knowing that wasn’t enough, I kept going and found a church and knocked on the door. After talking with a clergy member, I was offered a room and stayed overnight, allowing the storm to completely pass and providing a good night’s rest — free of charge.”
This experience taught Pascual the importance of dealing with the unknown and having the courage to continue despite challenges — a skill he often uses when taking action to move a project foward at work.
“When I encounter friction or roadblocks at work,” Pascual explains, “I know the answer will eventually surface, just as it does while traveling. And sometimes, I have to make decisions to move forward with limited or imperfect information. I’ve become comfortable with not always following a strict plan and understanding that I can't anticipate all variables. Being placed in uncomfortable situations helps me to develop grit to get through the toughest situations.”
Engaging with locals and connecting with strangers while traveling has also strengthened Pascual’s communication skills.
Pascual recalls a time when he rented a car in a remote town in Japan.
“I didn't speak the language,” said Pascual. “Without a rental contract, credit cards or anyone to lean on for assistance, I used Google Translate and managed to get through it and drive away in my rental car.”
When at work, Pascual uses his extensive communication skills to pull in new resources and collaborate.
“I feel comfortable reaching out to colleagues that I don’t know that work in other parts of the organization and other regions of the world to get help or collaborate. I make sure that I can add value to others during each interaction, or return a favor in some way. It helps me build relationships with others and gets things done.”
The benefits of travel continue beyond gaining valuable skills. Pascual carries his sense of adventure back to his home in New York City, where he explores new places and connects with people locally. His conscious effort to gain new experiences enriches his life and provides fulfillment and work-life balance.
“While I may not be in the C-suite or a millionaire yet, I have found happiness in my career journey and the life I've created,” said Pascual. “Society tends to relate success to job titles, salary and acquiring the next shiny thing, but there is so much more to creating a meaningful life to pursue interests and passions that might stem beyond work. It’s about balancing what priorities are important to pursue at the stage of life we are in. There will always be tradeoffs.”
Pascual formed observations related to the pursuit of happiness and perceived success during his tenure at Zappos.com.
“There are two types of people,” says Pascual. “Those who aim to climb the corporate ladder chasing job titles and a higher salary, and those who are content with doing exceptional work where they are. Either path is acceptable, but ultimately, I believe that those who feel they have control and are able to choose how they spend their time are the happiest.”
Pascual’s secrets to happiness include the desire for continuous learning and pursuing passions beyond his job. He finds having interests apart from work improves his overall well-being and makes him a better employee. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and their beloved pug named Ube, outdoor dining at restaurants throughout New York City, practicing latte art, pursuing photography as a hobby and cycling around the city.
Pascual looked for travel opportunities while attending NIU and joined the College of Business sales program on a trip to study international sales with companies in Austria. Later, he traveled to Nepal and Bhutan with fellow NIU alumni, forming lasting friendships and camaraderie that continue to enrich his life.
“The monk I met in Bhutan told me the secret to happiness was to be content with what I already have,” recalls Pascual. “He said, ‘Don’t put happiness at the end of a pursuit, such as waiting to graduate or get a promotion to be happy; find happiness in the process of your pursuits and your everyday journey.’”
Pascual believes that happiness is a choice, and his decision to travel extensively has significantly influenced both his life and career.
Want to travel the world alongside fellow Huskies? Join the NIU Alumni Association travel program where your next adventure awaits!