Dr. Laura Murillo Leads Houston’s Hispanic Business Community Into the Future
Dr. Laura Murillo is a powerhouse. She’s a CEO, mother of two, youngest of nine, a PhD, a champion of Houston and the Hispanic community at large, and someone who appreciates what it means to work hard and create your own destiny. She’s also a fearless leader who took the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to impressive membership levels, making it one of the largest of its kind in the country. She also happens to office Downtown.
“The Hispanic Chamber is located in Downtown in the Amegy Bank building, through a partnership we’ve had with them for a really long time,” says Murillo. “We are happy to be Downtown, with all the new attractions and activity, both for business and for social. We are always looking to take advantage of the new things.”
Murillo, who grew up a daughter of immigrants and the baby of a large family, has taken advantage of opportunities throughout her career.
“I think it certainly teaches you to make sure you get to the kitchen table pretty quickly, right?” laughs Murillo. “I have a lot of fond memories, and I think it served me well. My biggest takeaway was that I spent a lot of time with my father growing up, in the restaurant business. I learned to negotiate, to work hard. I also learned from my mother the importance of caring and giving to others. I like to think I had the best of both worlds.”
Working with her father at the East End restaurant, El Jardin – —which is still in business today – was a contributing factor to her strong ability to communicate and visualize. It’s been a big part of Murillo’s success, as well as the success of the Chamber itself.
“I do believe you do need to visualize something before it becomes a reality. I looked at the Chamber of Commerce [after being named president and CEO in 2007], and I didn’t see it for what it was, I saw it for what it could be,” says Murillo.
One of the innovations Murillo implemented to grow the revenue and reach of the organization was to create a media platform, bolstered by partnerships with various radio and television stations.
“We think that’s really important, because we get to highlight executives and Houstonians, Hispanic or not,” says Murillo.
She believes that Houston’s diversity is one of its biggest strengths, and the numbers are growing, with Hispanics making up around 40 percent of the population. Murillo credits the collaborative spirit of Houston as a factor in the success of the Hispanic business community, as well as the city overall.
“It is important for us, as leaders, to make sure that we are inclusive, that we are part of Houston’s fabric and not just a thread in the fabric,” says Murillo. “The fact that we are engaged, inclusive, support one another and realize that we can all benefit. A successful Houston is here for every, single one of us.”