Spring09

[Alumni News]

Eric Ramos

Bringing Success to Blue Lake Rancheria

IN 2001, ERIC RAMOS returned home to Humboldt County eager to start his new job at Blue Lake Rancheria.
“I can remember on my first day I used the back of some papers from the recycling bin; I borrowed a pencil from somebody,” he says. “It was really start up, really at the ground floor.”

A lot has changed since Ramos, a 1996 Business Administration alum and 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, began working for Blue Lake Rancheria, a federally recognized tribal government with a tribal citizenry of 53 members about seven miles east of Humboldt State. He’s gone from sharing an office and telephone with five employees to serving as President of Business Operations and has guided the Rancheria, of which he is an enrolled member, through tremendous growth. The Tribe now operates a highly successful casino, has diversified its enterprises to include a 20,000-employee staffing agency, among other entities, and plans to open a high-end hotel next to its casino this summer.

Ramos was born in Eureka, Calif., and raised in Blue Lake. He enrolled at Humboldt State as a philosophy major but soon switched to business after being inspired by courses he took. Upon graduation he landed in the Silicon Valley with the accounting firm KPMG where his high-profile clients included Adobe Systems, Apple Computer and Daimler Chrysler. The differences between life on the Rancheria and life in California’s high-tech mecca were dramatic.

“It was absolutely bizarre to me,” Ramos says of his arrival in Silicon Valley. “When I first moved there, before the Internet or Mapquest, I bought a Thomas Guide to learn how to get around. I knew how to get from work to my apartment. I would study that guide the night before visiting a client and drive around to figure out where I was. So, it was very different—at home, there wasn’t much need to consult a map.”

Ramos left KPMG and joined a telecom start-up company, Turnstone Systems. As Treasury Manager he managed a cash and investment portfolio in excess of $270 million and participated in the company’s initial public offering of stock. Eventually Ramos began weighing job offers.

“The Tribe told me that they were interested in developing a casino enterprise. I didn’t know what the casino project would look like or how successful it would be, but I was always interested in coming home and I missed home, so I decided to come back.”

Ramos was a driving force in developing the Rancheria’s casino, which was an immediate success upon its opening in June 2002. He has high hopes for the new hotel, as the Tribe uses its revenue for education, meals programs and public safety among other services, which provide for tribal members and non-tribal residents.

“The continuation of our government and the community support we are able to provide are my motivations to throw my feet over the edge of the bed each morning and get to work.”

Considering the skill with which Ramos has navigated the business world thus far, the Tribe’s success looks like a good bet.