Alumni-nominated spotlight: Border X’s David Favela
As part of our ongoing Pass the Pen series, we feature San Diego’s Best Brewery Startup founder David Favela ’96 who shares his favorite GPS memories and his key to success as a first generation American
May 8, 2019 | By Rachel Hommel
Failure is many times the best foundation for success. Alumnus David Favela ‘96, a native-born San Diegan and first-generation American, has a story that is nothing short of remarkable.
Failing second grade twice, he was misdiagnosed with a learning disability and eventually sent to a special education school. There, he taught himself to read, which transformed his life, including receiving a Woodrow Wilson fellowship to attend Princeton University post GPS, plus a successful career in business and entrepreneurship.
Favela has worked at Hewlett Packard (HP) for over 20 years, in a variety of roles from supply chain and business development to his current role as the global business manager for HP Educational Solutions. Despite a full-time job, he started Border X Brewing in the Barrio Logan neighborhood in 2014, the first wholly owned Latino brewery in San Diego. The brewery has become a catalyst for a grass roots driven Barrio renaissance, with a dozen new, community-owned businesses established and flourishing in the area.
And what about the infamous Border X logo?
“The logo is composed of two influences and reflect our philosophy. We combined the best from both sides of the border,” noted Favela. “The top ‘hop crown’ is influenced by craft beer culture, and the bottom face comes from center of the Aztec calendar. We like to joke that if there was such a thing as the ‘Aztec God of Craft Beer’, he would look like this.”
Read on as he shares highlights of his career and how he uses his GPS toolbox along the way.
Q: What has been a highlight of your career so far?
A: As HP education solutions business manager, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best mathematicians in the world to design a new teaching approach for all Chinese high school, and eventually middle school students. It was a curriculum designed around the latest technology and the best pedagogical theories. It was humbling to know that our work would impact entire generations in the largest country in the world. We all hope that our work and our lives have meaning and impact. That project was by far the most impactful of my career.
Q: If you could go back to GPS as a professor or special guest lecturer, what would you like to teach?
A: I would love to teach grassroots, economic development strategies and review case studies. Providing opportunity through economic development has always been my passion, even when I was in the private sector. Since opening the brewery though, I have had the life changing experience of starting a business, Border X Brewing, and at the same time investing in an economically depressed area.
In the five years since we've opened, the entire neighborhood has been transformed with art, music, food and craft beer, but in a way that honors the barrio's unique history and serves its current residents. We call that people-based development, or "Gente-fication" instead of "Gentri-fication". We've just opened our second brewery in Los Angeles and we've had tremendous success so far.
Q: What book/movie have you read/seen recently and would recommend?
A: I still think Jared Diamonds, "Guns, Germs and Steel" is one of the most comprehensive explanations of why some countries developed and others were conquered. Environmental theory and evolutionary theory come together to provide a great framework in which to understand economic development. I also love "Vikings" on the History Channel and cannot wait for the final season of "Game of Thrones."
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received (professional or personal)?
A: Your professional network is the most powerful career building support you could hope for. Cultivate your professional and personal friendships, renew them often and you'll never worry about finding a job in your life.
Q: What did you learn at GPS that has been most useful in your career?
A: Statistics, statistics, statistics. First of all, I loved that class. When I was the supply chain manager at HP, we learned all about QC and Statistical Process Control (SPC) systems at partners factories. When I was in Mexico, I was so fluent in statistics and SPC they made me quality manager and my staff called me "ingeniero," which means "engineer" in Spanish, even though I was purely a business major.
Q: What do you like to do to relax/on weekends?
A: I love mountain bike riding on the weekends and have taken trips with friends to trails across the southwest from Utah to Colorado and Arizona. Waking up, eating breakfast and not having anything to worry about but riding with friends and exploring the countryside is literally the definition of joy for me.
Q: What experience should alumni not miss when visiting your city?
A: Well, I would be remiss if I didn't plug my own business, Border X Brewing in Barrio Logan, near downtown San Diego. We make Mexican inspired craft beer using ingredients and flavors from Mexico. Our tasting room is packed with artwork, we host live music and our TJ style taco stand in our beer garden is legit and authentic. Add it to your brewery tour and I promise it'll be the highlight of your visit.
Q: Who would you like to pass the pen to next and why?
A: I would pass this to Peter Mortizburke – a great guy, a renewable energy expert and overall fun guy.
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