This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with an MBA student at CMU Tepper, Daniel Espinoza…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Daniel: I am from Peru. I am an Economist Engineer, and graduated from National University of Engineering. It is a career related to Econometrics and Quantitative Economics. Interestingly, my father had Peru’s first degree in that career, so I grew up among books of economics, finance and long discussion about economics issues with my father. Also, I obtained a Master of Sciences in Investments Projects in my alma mater, earning first place in my cohort. I developed my career in several industries and in several roles such as Civil and Urban Infrastructure, Consulting, Mining and Health Care. Since I am an entrepreneur and I like changes, I decided to pursue an MBA in a world class university like Carnegie Mellon to incorporate a fresh set of tools to my profession.
Accepted: Which business school did you attend? When did you graduate?
Daniel: I am going to Tepper Business School of Carnegie Mellon University. I will graduate in May 2017.
Accepted: What ultimately led to your decision to attend Tepper School of Business? What were some of your favorite aspects of their program?
Daniel: In a high level, I developed my career in Mining and Health Care, and Pittsburgh has been a mining and industrial city of coal and steel so it made sense to come here. Additionally, Pittsburgh is a big hub in Healthcare with big corporations such as UPMC and Highmark, so definitely I obtained the right mix that combined nicely with my background. Tepper is a business school that cultivates three important areas of knowledge related to Behavioral Economics, Mathematics and Decision Analysis which are intimately related to my two professional dissertations: Strategic Decision Making in Mining and Risk Analysis in Public Projects. So Tepper provided me the right match to my interests.
Accepted: What made you pursue an MBA program at this stage in your life? Did you consider EMBA programs?
Daniel: Since I developed my career in several Planning and Strategic Departments in Mining and Health Care, I was exposed to a variety of problems related to Finance, Operations, Commercialization, Supply Chain and Strategy. Moreover, I played an important role leading my company as Commercial Chief during the crisis of metal commodities. I not only accomplished my daily duties such as managing warehouse operations, identifying P&L drivers, forecasting metrics, doing market research, and tracking sales, but also collaborated in the due diligence that crystallized in the acquisition of my company by Nyrstar –in an operation of $ 23 M. Moreover, I took on new responsibilities during the M&A by leading the implementation of SAP to promote change management. All these experiences made me think that I was ready to play in the big leagues, so I decided to pursue my MBA in 2012 and I was accepted by Tepper in first round in December of 2014. I preferred a full-time MBA just to internalize and rewire my mindset to be prepared for future business challenges.
Accepted: Looking back, did you experience any challenges while applying as an international applicant? How did you overcome them?
Daniel: Applying as an international applicant involves many challenges and very detailed planning. In my case coming from Peru, with a different university system and language, was particularly challenging. I divided the work in three categories:
First, I began my preparation to take the TOEFL and GMAT, which are everyone a complete universe in themselves. The decision of what is first and what is second is always tricky. I began taking the GMAT and finished taking the TOEFL, defining a minimum desirable score for each one.
Second, I asked to my different schools the respective transcripts and additional documentation to support my level of education and accomplishments.
Third, I had to translate everything from Spanish to English. I employed an Official Translator.
I did all these things while I was working in one of the biggest hospitals in Peru as a Project Specialist moving forward several initiatives in Urology, Critical Care, Metabolic Support, Dentistry and IT. To sum it all up, it is required a lot of stamina and determination to overcome all these activities.
Accepted: How have your MBA studies at Tepper School of Business helped you achieve your long-term career goals?
Daniel: Since my MBA is still in progress, I am really excited to see the impact to achieve my long-term career goals. However, I’ve learned a lot of interesting approaches to solve problems, to lead teams, and to accomplish goals in a real job setting. One indicator, is my Internship in Hospital Corporation of America in Houston (Texas) during the summer 2016 as Performance Improvement Engineer. It is an internal consulting role that generates initiatives to improve several aspects in the Healthcare Value Chain such as Labor, Clinical Excellence, Operations Room, Emergency Department and Throughput. For example, I generated a positive impact in financial and operational reporting, and increased efficiencies in the Operations Room by reducing physicians’ overtime.
In another instance, I worked for 33 Birds –a non-profit organization that provides food and useful extracurricular activities to poor children in NYC, to which I elaborated its first Business Plan, first Brochures and first Databases of potential fund-providers. So, these experiences make me think the great opportunities that my MBA is opening for me which will fulfill my long-term career goals working in the intersection of Technology, Finance and Business Development in a variety of roles such as Project Management, Product Management, Business Improvement, or Supply Chain.
Accepted: Lastly, do you have any tips for those who are contemplating pursuing an MBA program later in their career?
Daniel: I am convinced that success is a natural result from hard work and dedication to meet unexpected and impressive opportunities that the market offers. I feel that building respect and trust are important for strong business and professional relationships. Today we have an extraordinary tool that can tremendously leverage our careers and prepare us to reach higher goals: the MBA. It is a decision that should be taken carefully and thoughtfully. Especially, I recommend it when you have great accomplishments and experiences that can be shared with your classmates. On the other hand, the courses that you will take can be contrasted with your experiences making the process of learning and personal transformation more fruitful. Another piece that I considered was to take the Leadership Certification that Tepper offers to enhance my leadership skills. It is never too late; on the contrary, it is a beautiful pause that can re-energize our careers. If you have these elements, it is the right time.
You can keep up with Daniel’s journey by checking out his blog The Economist Engineer or you can connect with him via LinkedIn. Thank you Daniel for sharing your story with us – we wish you continued success!
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