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Raoul Zubia, Class 22
Scottsdale Servant Leader
Raoul is a born and bred Scottsdale native son. He wears his south Scottsdale roots as a badge of honor. He went to grade school at Yavapai and then on to Coronado High School where he graduated in 1978. Raoul’s family has always prized hard work and self-sufficiency. So, after high school he was anxious to start working. Raoul told us he spent most of the decade of 1980’s as a popular bartender at the iconic, and now shut down “Other Place” restaurant on Lincoln Drive near Scottsdale Road, as well as AZ/88. He always credits that experience with building his confidence and his ability to work with people.
As tempting as it would be to be a bartender forever, Raoul wanted to move on to a more professional job. In 1989 he got a job as a part-time bank teller at the old Western Savings Bank which turned into Bank of America. He was so good at it, he moved on to other jobs within the bank. He did everything from working as a loan officer to being a Series 7 registered securities salesperson. After working for several different banks, he ended up at Harris Trust Bank. Unfortunately, he was part of their huge downsizing effort and suddenly he was out of a job. At that point, he had to dig deep and chart a new course. He decided to go back to school and get his college degree. He took his savings and enrolled in the University of Phoenix where he earned his degree in Public Administration.
It was when he was at Harris Bank that he was introduced to Scottsdale Leadership by one of his bank colleagues Vicky Zimmerman of Class 19. She saw the potential in Raoul and took him to some of the Scottsdale Leadership functions, and he was all in. He joined the “Tried and True” Class 22 and graduated in 2008.
After college, he ended up going back into banking at Bank of America and worked there until 2015. At that point he had the opportunity to shift gears again in his life. He joined his brother-in-law as a business consultant working with large corporations helping them to streamline their process management and efficiency. It turned out that Raoul was a natural at that job. But when COVID -19 hit, the corporate world changed, and the consulting business really slowed down. Fortunately, Raoul had saved enough money over the years to retire from the corporate world and follow his real passion, which is helping people lead better lives in our community.
After encouragement from many of his friends, he ran for Scottsdale City Council in the last election. Even though he was not successful, he told us that he learned a lot from that experience and does not rule out another try in the future. Just being around Raoul, it is clear that even after a lifetime of working, he still has a lot energy left in his tank. He is the kind of good natured, optimistic person that can take those lemons and make lemonade, or using his bartender skills maybe even use them to make a really good lemon drop martini.
With all the Scottsdale organizations that Raoul is associated with now, you might be tempted to compare his current life with the Scottsdale version of, “Where’s Waldo”. But groups like Partners for Paiute, The Scottsdale Charro’s Foundation, the Scottsdale Preserve and Protect Task force, the Human Services Commission, and of course Scottsdale Leadership love to have Raoul as part of their leadership structure. He brings such a unique and welcome perspective to each of these great causes.
As for fun, Raoul, and his girlfriend Karen Shaw, who is also a Scottsdale native, really enjoy hanging out with friends, and their two Labs, Moose and Giovanni. And whether he is helping his mom who is almost 83 years old now, or just tooling around town with his friends, Raoul loves Scottsdale and wants to make our community better for everyone.
All of us enjoy hearing stories about people who have risen from modest beginnings to build a great life that is full of purpose and energy. Raoul Zubia is certainly one of those people. That spirit of giving back earned him the Frank Hodges Alumni Achievement award in 2021. As we finished up our conversation with Raoul, we know he will continue serving Scottsdale for many years to come. That is a great comfort indeed.