Striking Success: NHI Trustee Adriel Lares Kicks Off New Role as CFO of Chelsea Football Club
by Isabella Sada Nieto I December 1st, 2023
Adriel has a particular ability to pick out the good in the hearts of others He values his relations and enjoys making ideas work….e [Ernesto Nieto, NHI Founder]
Adriel Lares embarked on his journey with the National Hispanic Institute (NHI) as a sixteen year old. As a sophomore at Alvin High School, in Alvin, Texas, he was advised by his high school counselor, Maria Bustos, to take a leap of faith when new opportunities presented themselves. She didn’t stop there – she helped Lares fundraise to attend the LDZ. This would be one of the first times Adriel would leave home on his own.
Adriel Lares, Joseph Miller, & Nicole Nieto as JFL interns at the National Hispanic Institute.
As a delegate of the Texas Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session, Lares took a big risk: he ran for Governor. Only hours later, he was defeated. But the Texas LDZ Secretary of State, George Rodriguez, stepped in to lift his spirits and told him not to quit. Lares bid for Speaker of the House and was elected. This moment stands out as one of the most impactful memories in Adriel’s NHI journey.
“Having someone [like George] who was older and Latino was encouraging. To this day, I remember… It’s so important to take the time, you never know how much you’ll impact someone positively,” Lares said.
Lares reflects on the LDZ as one that helped shape his future and identity. He emphasized that NHI presented opportunities for growth and resilience, and a space for young people to cultivate a network. Lares returned to the Collegiate World Series (CWS) and there, he learned about his alma mater – Stanford University.
As a first generation college student at Stanford, Adriel was presented with lots of opportunities, but struggled with the adjustment to college life. It wasn’t until his second year that he began to get accustomed to the rigor and high expectations of being an undergraduate.
Anna Marie Porras (†), a woman from Central Valle, California who was a Stanford admissions counselor and served on NHI’s College Register board, agreed to mentor him. She became his advisor and guided him through the rest of his undergraduate studies.
“She was there to remind me that I could do this. She was someone who sounded like me, had the same background as me. It was so impactful to have a person similar to me, a person who had just gone through what I went through was impactful. It’s not the same as a parent or grandparent, we stayed in touch forever. She’s one of those people,” Lares explained.
Lares emphasized that it wasn’t until his second year of school that he truly acclimated to the undergraduate rigor and grasped the nuanced expectations of academic life.
“If I had not gone through the NHI experience, I don’t know if I would’ve ever returned to the campus for my second year. I tried again and learned to do better. I found my two dorm mates, Clifford Wang and Bradley Sharpe, had the skills to do well and modeled my studies accordingly this adaption skill a lot to NHI,” Lares shared.
For the first few years of Lares’ professional career, he served in the finance offices of the Walt Disney Company and Morgan Stanley. During this time, Lares also earned a Distinguished Alumni award from NHI.
“He came to accept his award at Celebracion,” said Nicole Nieto, NHI Executive Vice President. “When his name was called, he approached the podium to deliver an acceptance speech but instead, pulled out three checks from philanthropists totalling $150k to present as a donation to NHI. This was the largest gift ever received. We were speechless.”
Adriel’s years as a young professional later guided him to serve as the Chief Financial Officer of Stash, Inc.
“I’ve been a part of companies that have had ups and downs, along the way I built my career overtime. I benefited from people who have been empathetic towards me and I’ve modeled that. I think that way of treating other people can sometimes reflect back on you. Many of the positions I have had were due to how I worked or treated others,” he explained.
In his professional career, Lares shared the importance of networking and positive relationships with others. In 2023, Lares was presented a once in a lifetime opportunity to interview for the position of Chief Financial Officer at the prestigious Chelsea Football Club in Fulham in West London. Lares credits his network built over the years, as one of the primary reasons for putting him in this position.
“It’s a global sports brand that a lot of people care about. It’s a huge responsibility. When I think about the opportunities that are grouping, you have very few folks like me that have accomplished this… I want to set a good example and want people to know that they can do this, too,” Lares said.
As a mentor to many both in the world of finance and in the world of leadership development, Lares shared some advice.
“There’s this question: Are you sure this is the right move? If you apply this to your own life, if you’re nervously excited, it’s probably a good thing. Remember yourself, follow up with your people, your professor, your job… When you’re presented with risk taking and opportunities, all of those previous investments are going to make the difference. You’re going to be less prepared for the risks you could take if you don’t invest in yourself.”
As Adriel begins this new journey, the National Hispanic Institute offers the best of luck and support as he ventures to London. As a long-time NHI Board member, engaged alumnus, husband and father, we cannot be more happy to be part of Adriel’s journey and future success. But we thank him for his example and his legacy.
“The key lesson Adriel took to heart as a participant was to not allow failure to define who he is or what he was going to be. Instead, we’ve come to know him by his perseverance and his generosity,” – NHI Board Member and Adriel’s SOS – George Rodriguez.