The People Person: Valentina Sireech, CEO, Ute Tribal Enterprises, LLC

“I have focused on recruiting the best talent, people who are forward-thinking, innovative and creative. Then I inspire them to reach their full potential,” says Valentina Sireech CEO, Ute Tribal Enterprises, LLC, and a Native Business Top 30 CEO.
Every morning, Valentina R. Sireech wakes up early and “prays to the Creator,” then starts planning her always-busy day. “I write down what my intention and focus are for the day, and that really allows me to anchor myself to determine what’s important and what I can push off to the side.”

It’s a formula that is working like gangbusters for the chief executive officer of Ute Tribal Enterprises, LLC (U.T.E.), the business arm of the Ute Indian Tribe. Stockholders of the corporation are all Ute Indian Tribal members, and its Board of Directors is the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee. Under Sireech’s direction, U.T.E. operates and manages 10 Tribally owned businesses that employ more than 250 people. 

“My goal is to serve Tribal communities, offer jobs and training for Tribal members, while strengthening the Tribe’s financial position,” says Sireech, an enrolled member of the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, the second largest Indian reservation in the U.S. 

Some of the businesses Sireech oversees include oilfield water and pumping services, a grocery store, a family fun center, a restaurant, a catering and event center and a coffee house, to name a few U.T.E. subsidiaries. “We have been able to grow businesses and diversify in a tough, volatile economy due to the cyclical downturn in the oil and gas industry,” she says.

And people are taking notice. The U.T.E. CEO, who had a meteoric rise within the corporation since she developed its entire marketing department early on, believes her greatest achievement to date is “rescuing faltering businesses in rather tough economic times.” In 2017, she renovated and rebranded the Ute Plaza Supermarket, incorporating the Ute Indian language and culture to highlight its rich history in the region. 

Sireech also had the vision to develop one of the Tribe’s natural resources — free-roaming bison, a herd which numbers 253 to date — into a successful retail sales operation that offers 100 percent, grass-fed bison meat. 

Despite all the success that resulted in Sireech being nominated for “Business Woman of the Year” by the Women in Business Association, the U.T.E. leader realizes that she is only as strong as the people around her. “I have focused on recruiting the best talent, people who are forward-thinking, innovative and creative. Then I inspire them to reach their full potential,” she says, offering up the secret to her effective leadership, adding that teamwork and loyalty are most important to her. “So if you want good team members, hire people who are able to understand and follow your mission statement and vision, and work well with others to accomplish your department’s goals.”

Infused with what seems like limitless energy, this business leader, wife and mother of one who is also raising two nephews is currently working toward her third college degree — a Master of Business Administration from Utah State University’s Huntsman School of Business.

For her, great leadership is about courage. “The courage to take on a big challenge, to do what no one else will, to question the status quo, confront a difficult situation and to never give up.”

Above all, she says, leadership is a people job. “When an employee needs to talk with you, whatever the reason, make sure that you set aside time to do so,” Sireech advises other leaders. “Put your work aside, put down your smartphone and focus on the person standing in front of you.”

Valentina Sireech CEO, Ute Tribal Enterprises, LLC, was named a Top 30 CEO in Indian Country by Native Business Magazine. Her profile originally appeared in our Leadership issue.