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  • Writer's pictureMTB Team

Meet Maricela Murillo, Taco Bell General Manager

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Maricela has been a Taco Bell team member for 13 years and has been in a managerial role for the last 5. Whether it's making tacos or training new talent, her passion is giving others the confidence to succeed in their role. Maricela is going to be the General Manager for the Wye location opening in the fall of 2020.

Q: Would you tell us your name, where you live, and your position at MTB Management?

A: My name is Maricela, and I live in Missoula, and I'm a General Manager at Taco Bell

Q: If you could explain yourself in a couple sentences, how would you do that?

A: I would say that I'm a pretty optimistic person. I always try to find the good in any given situation. I'm definitely not naïve to life having its challenges, but I know that in the end, things will be alright. I try to just make sure that I surround myself with people that have the same outlook on life. And if not, then I try to just give everyone the comfort of, everything will work out the way it's supposed to.

Q: How did you get into this business, and what was the moment that you decided to do it?

A: Taco Bell was my first job! I started working at Taco Bell when I was 15 and it was just a regular high school job. I left for a couple years, and in that time I worked at an ice cream place here in town. My boss at the time taught me a lot of things about business and about marketing. I was attending the University of Montana during that time, and money started running out and I needed a second job. So, I went back to Taco Bell and I knew that it would be easy because I had already worked there part-time. I eventually quit school altogether because it was very challenging doing that along with the ice cream job, but I eventually decided that I didn't want to stay with the new owners. So I went to Taco Bell, and I was working a couple other jobs. Funny enough, I was actually on my way to quit when another General Manager approached me and was like, "Hey, I really need a manager. Do you think that you would be interested in coming to my store?" And at that time, I wasn't in a position of management for anything and I was only 19. I told him, "oh, sure. I don't have anything to lose!" And so I went there and it was fine, I was just doing my thing. Wasn't thinking this was long-term, I was just there collecting a paycheck. And at that time, my general manager who still works for the company went on maternity leave, and the assistant manager quit, and I was the senior shift lead. So I didn't really have a lot of knowledge on upper management Taco Bell stuff. In that time, I grew tremendously and my general manager came back and she was like, "Holy cow." And she was like, "you did a lot of work...have you thought about doing this in the future? You're doing a really good job." And so I think that that was the moment of realizing that I enjoy doing this and I enjoy leading people. I had the confidence to do the job, and so that's when I kind of made the switch of, yeah, I can make a go of this. And so I started moving towards my development of being an assistant manager, and just kind of kept progressing as time went on.

Q: Would you tell us about MTB Management, Taco Bell, and your role as a General Manager?

A: MTB is a great place to work .I do work in fast food and I do run a restaurant, but it's bigger than that. The company that I work for is amazing, and I wouldn't be working fast food if it wasn't owned and ran by the people that are in charge. They encourage us to help others, to honor the commitments we make to our teams, to develop each other professionally but also support each other personally. All of this reflects on how we interact with the community, and they make it clear that's the ultimate goal. Yeah, we make tacos, but it's what we’re doing with the people that are on our teams. For me, I don't have any family that lives here in Missoula. It's just me and my son and my fiance. And so for me, MTB has become a family in a sense. I've worked for the company for 13 years, so that's a long time. Missoula's a great place to live and raise a family, but it's also one of the big reasons I stayed here is because of my job and the great company that I work for.

Q: Tell me a little bit more about what a typical day looks like for you in your role.

A: I'm kind of in a neat position right now! They're building a new store location in the Wye, and so that'll be my location that I run. So right now, I'm based out of the Reserve Street store in Missoula, which already has a general manager. I'm currently in a position where I help them with hiring, interviewing, and training. I make tacos when needed, and people say, "Oh, you just make tacos." Well yeah, I make tacos, but in that moment of making the food or whatnot, we're helping people become either shift leads or better leaders. I would say a huge part of my role is just growing the confidence of first-time people having a job. Giving them the boost of, "yeah, I can do this. I have a job, I'm productive." And so that's a great feeling. But because I don’t have a home store yet, my hours are more flexible. And so I'm able to transfer, go to the other stores in our franchise and just see their perspective, and learn how they're running their stores. And so I've been to Helena, I've been traveling to the Butte store, and even to the stores in town. And so it's been a nice experience to just not have my blinders on and be in the same spot every single day.

Q: What led you to become a general manager, was there anyone in particular that inspired you or encouraged you to become a general manager at Taco Bell?

A: Brittany is a general manager of a store here in Missoula and we're about the same age. And prior to this I had some management experience at the store that I was at before, but I kept getting overlooked and it was very frustrating. And that's when she approached me and said, "I really need managers." For her to give me the chance, put faith in me of, and say, “you're going to do this and I trust you to do this” - that’s all I needed to get started. Having that relationship with Britany and seeing her at a young age gave me the confidence to say, "yeah, I could do this. I'm capable of this." And so just seeing her I guess kind of inspired me.

Q: How would you define success for yourself, both personally and as a professional?

A: I see personal success is the happiness of life, and asking “am I happy enjoying the moment right now?” When I was younger, I spent a lot of time just working, working, working, for the next big thing, and I didn't enjoy what was right in front of me. And for me, the realization of living in the moment and enjoying the things that you currently have is how I would define success. Professionally, the same concept aligns!

I can't forget what my team is doing right now. What great things we're doing right now. And rather than pushing more, more, more, more (yes, I always want to achieve more because I'm just very goal-driven) I want to see their successes now so that we can celebrate and recognize that momentum and keep going. Knowing that my team knows that I've made an investment in the and that I really believe that they can accomplish great things. I don't want them to work at Taco Bell forever if they don't plan on moving up or if they're not happy. I think that's one thing that is really important, I don't want them to work at Taco Bell if it's not their career for the rest of their lives. But while they're there, I want us to get the most out of their ability, and I want them to teach us something. Because just because they're younger or they come from a different job doesn't mean that they can't teach us something, and I think that's really important to know. So I think success is just being able to build those great teams professionally.

Q: What's been the most important skill that you developed as a good general manager?

A: I would say effective planning. So I was a general manager for about five years at one point, and I stepped down to be an assistant manager. My personal life was getting in the way, so I decided that personal life was more important. But the first time around I was a general manager, I was not good at planning. I had a plan, but I wasn't very effective. And because I wasn't effective at utilizing my time and sticking to that plan, my home life really suffered. And time is something you can't get back, and so I think this time around, it's really about effective planning for me; making sure that my team knows that I have a plan for them, whether it's their training or their development. And when you give people their time, they value that so much.. You also get more done when you're better at planning, you accomplish more throughout the day.

Q: What does the future of Taco Bell look like in western Montana?

A: It's very exciting. It's a growing company, it's Montana so we have the ability to grow a lot more, and to know that you're a part of a company that has great values, you want to share that with people. And so as it's growing, that means more opportunity for people in our restaurants. To be able to move up, to be shift managers, assistant managers, general managers, area coaches, and maybe even things that we haven't thought of yet, so I think that's the really exciting part. Just the opportunities that it gives to other people in the teams and in our community.

Q: And lastly, if you won the lottery, what's the first thing you would do?

A: I'd probably cry. And then I'd hire a financial advisor :)

Thank you for sharing part of your story with us, Maricela!


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