H@H: Ep 6 – This week, Adolfo Quesada Viciana joins Sean and Ray to discuss his journey from Spain to Berkeley. Adolfo talks about how projects in strategy consulting gave him passion for working with NGO’s in emerging markets, and how he’s continued his focus on social impact while at Haas. We then talk about differences in culture, food, and transportation between Europe and the US. Finally, Adolfo tells us his involvement in extracurriculars and experience as a GSI.
• There’s no limit on how many dimensions you can pivot; Adolfo is pivoting toward both a new role and sector in addition to adjusting to the culture of a new country.
• It’s important to make the most of your MBA, but equally important to cherish the experience and have good student-life balance.
• For those considering careers in social impact, don’t discount the advantage of Haas/Berkeley’s proximity to mission-driven start-ups in Silicon Valley.
- LinkedIn: Adolfo Quesada Viciana
- IBD – international business development
- Net Impact
- Berkeley Board Fellows
- Social Impact
[00:00:02] Sean: Welcome to another episode of the OneHaas podcast. I’m Sean Lee. I’m joined by my co host, Ray Guan.
[00:00:08] Ray: Today we’re joined by Adolfo Quesada Viciana from the full time MBA 2021 class. Welcome, Adolfo.
[00:00:18] Adolfo: Hi. Thank you very much for having me here. It’s a pleasure. I’m very excited about this.
[00:00:23] Ray: Well, you just tell us where you’re from and your journey to Haas.
[00:00:26] Adolfo: Great. I’m from Spain, South Spain. A beautiful town, a tiny town, not like the Bay area. I was studying business administration, so basically my passion was managing people, managing projects. (I) didn’t know about anything, didn’t know about how, so I got into studying business. Soon after during the school you have the opportunity to go and it’s an exchange program. I went to Finland. I wanted to go very far in different culture inside Europe. Basically (it) was a game changer for me because the culture there was super entrepreneurial, super innovative, and I wanted to just pursue more things like that in my career.
[00:01:04] Happens that when I was graduating at school, it was the economic crisis. So, 2012, the second round of the economic crisis, and there was not many job prospects in Spain. I was curious because jobs are located mainly in Madrid and Barcelona, but mainly Madrid. When you are outside there and you don’t have access to the labor market, you’re a bit outside of the game.
[00:01:25] So I joined IE Business School because of the experience in Finland with this kind of business school environment, where people have little motivation, very lot of ambition to be entrepreneurial to make an impact. It was a very nice experience. I was there one year, meeting amazing people.
[00:01:41] We were 70 in my class. 59 or 60 were from outside of Spain. It was a super rich experience to know people from everywhere, from Asia, Latin America, US, and Africa as well. It was one of the best experiences that I had in my life. It got me access to strategy consulting, which is what I wanted at that time because I still didn’t know what to do with my career, and I thought that there was enough time to study.
[00:02:08] I’m ready to start getting paid for doing stuff. It was a continuation of a business school, as I call it, but actually getting paid for that.
I got into Deloitte in the sort of the consulting and I was there. I had a very nice experience there. During these five years, I was in mercy and have a variety of projects from strategy planning to pricing, market launches, segmentation, cost optimization and due diligence. It was a whole variety of sectors and types of period that got me a lot of knowledge about different industries and different problems with many stakeholders. I really enjoy that.
[00:02:47] Sean: What about the geography?
[00:02:47] Adolfo: That’s a very nice question. I was all around Europe. We were having a project for a top pharma company that was in 12 countries in Europe. I had to travel a lot. It was super exciting because we had to deal not only with the main headquarter team from this company that has to manage the project, but also with each country that they were actually dependent branches. I was dealing at some point with more than 40, 50 stakeholders at the same time. Many of them are from high level, like from CEOs of every specific country to country managers to marketing CEOs. It was super exciting and super challenging. It was also very intense, as you can imagine from a consulting project. Also apart from that, I was two months in Colombia for a different client and one month in Ecuador in our volunteer project. This project was the other inflection point for me because since I was very john, I was super passionate about the social sector, social impact, changing or at least contributing to changing how things are in the system, our current system and economic and financial systems. And I thought that with this experience, it was one month in Ecuador, it was kind of partnership from Deloitte and Caritas in which we were setting up a whole microfinance project. It was extracurricular, it was not like Deloitte, but all of us were from Deloitte.
[00:04:11] So it was very great because what we did was, we were two months in Ecuador, and we had to, from scratch and without even further notice in advance at all, to structure a whole microfinance project with funding from Caritas, Norway. So, they will have 2 million funds to distribute to 600 families that had been recently affected.
[00:04:36] There was an earthquake in 2006 and many people died, but even with the destruction in the infrastructure and all the daily lives it got worse, even much worse. This funding was to target families that have been affected by the earthquakes. It was like family business.
[00:04:53] I think we did a nice job there. Basically, they were super happy with us because they didn’t know how to actually structure the funding and they didn’t have any experience at all in the financial or the operational part of this type of programs. The NGO there was amazing for all the knowledge of the people in the region. They have been doing that for so many years and with many good impacts and advances in the region, but they didn’t know how to handle that.
[00:05:20] So three economists and consultants from Deloitte had a very huge opportunity to at least start and structure the process. And after two months, what we did is basically have more than 50 workshops. I was probably walking more than even consulting, but it was super enriching. I was super happy to have that experience because what’s happened is that we were actually teaching accounting, business entrepreneurship to these families that didn’t have this kind of knowledge. Also, at the same time that people didn’t realize that you have a revenue and you have a cost and the cost should be less than the revenue. So, you have people in the 60, 70 years old working so hard every day to have an income with their businesses. And then when you go through the numbers, it’s like what you are purchasing you’re selling on the same money after 12 hours of labor.
[00:06:13] Sean: So the funding, the $2 million was for business owners that were affected.
[00:06:18] Okay. Got it.
[00:06:19] Adolfo: This family business, what they had to do is create, with us, fairly easy business plan to justify that they could receive the money, which was going to be different steps, but specifically that we’re starting with $500 for each family, which will allow them to continue on with the operation, so to purchase or renew some of the equipment that they needed. Basically, there were many food-related businesses that they needed to open, so they needed a fridge or they needed at least more rural material. And it was an important aspect to actually not get out of the business.
[00:06:54] So basically what we did, apart from evaluating this business plan, was actually building the business plan with them. (I) was also doing this workshop where they learn more about business entrepreneurship so they can continue in the long-term, as well as putting all the templates and the processes for the NGO.
[00:07:10] So even when we leave from there, they can also continue doing that in the long term.
[00:07:15] Sean: Makes sense. I’m curious, what were some of the challenges that you guys face as consultants coming in?
[00:07:20] Ray: This sounds like a consulting case so that you could give to someone you know and have them do it.
[00:07:25] Sean: You’re making it sound so easy, but what were some of the challenges that you guys faced?
[00:07:30] Adolfo: I think part of why it sounds easy is because it was an experience that we really, really enjoyed. We were not thinking about the tradeoffs. They enjoy Caritas. It was Cáritas in Ecuador, but also another NGO that is Asociación de Mujeres de Manabí, which is focused on getting women into the labor market, promoting their access to more opportunities.
[00:07:53] So it was like a combination of these two NGOs. They share some responsibilities in a specific region, in Manabi, which was the most affected by the earthquake. The challenges? Very nice question. I find the challenges mainly about how to educate, transmit the main issues of the business to people who sometimes don’t even have literacy and they don’t know about math.
[00:08:19] They don’t have the luxury as many times to hire more people that can take care of that. It was basically about 70-years person, for instance, with his wife or his kid, just managing a whole restaurant that they wanted to span and to put another restaurant but before that, they have to be realistic about if that was profitable or not. So, transmitting that issue it was a whole point because they didn’t know that they were losing money. Many times they didn’t know anything about this kind of customer experience when we are talking about the fanciest startup here in the Bay area or something like that.
[00:09:01] It was more about trial and error, but this trial and error sometimes is very costly for them because after a long time, they realized that they have been losing money, and it’s not just losing money for the business, it’s actually family money that has been involved with that. They also have to pay sometimes for rent, or they have to pay for the food for their own family. They see that the business is actually just money wasting.
[00:09:25] Sean: With a lot of emerging markets, sometimes you encounter people that are unbanked, a large part of the population that’s unbanked. Did you guys have to deal with any of that?
[00:09:36] Adolfo: And by unbanked you mean the lack of funding?
[00:09:39] Sean: Either lack of financing or they just don’t even have a bank account. They are just, under their mattress.
[00:09:45] Adolfo: So many times, that happened. I would say it was a frequent issue. What was more also an issue was there were, at that time, these financial providers, to say something, that was a huge interest cost for them, so they could access financing.
[00:10:05] It was just too expensive because it’s many times not the structure. What’s happened is that, you had the bank, the more formal banking, which does have this credit scoring or something like that, so they don’t provide funding. And then you have these individuals or small institutions that can provide funding, but they are a bit unofficial, to say something, and the interest rate can be just unaffordable. But as it was the only option that they have, they went for it.
[00:10:34] So I can put down a sample. We were trying to transmit the importance of actually saving money during your normal operation so you can afford renewing or buying again, repurchasing an oven that got broken, right? Without having to wait two years on this until you accumulate money. What they told us is actually those ovens, since they were not saving for those ovens, they normally go for a 30% interest rate loan to purchase an oven that is 3 or 4 thousand dollars. It was hugely expensive with a huge interest rate. And by the time they are finally paying the oven and the interest rate, they need another one. So, they need to engage in another crazy loan like that.
[00:11:17] So we wanted to translate that, the importance of actually having discipline in saving; accounting that something bad can happen in the business, like this earthquake or just that malfunctioning of your equipment. They have to depreciate. So that’s why, that’s how we were accounting for the concept of depreciation.
[00:11:34] Instead of going for very accountable terms, we were trying to show them that this oven that you had purchased now, you have to account for that during many months. So, you start saving a bit more money than just the profit and just the margin of the product, which won’t give you the opportunity.
[00:11:51 ] Ray: Yeah. It seems like the interest expense is greater than the depreciation expense year over year. What are people’s trust levels? I know in emerging markets, in developing countries, a lot of small, medium business owners, they have very little trust in financial institutions or just in the government as a whole.
[00:12:10] Adolfo: We face mainly that they didn’t trust their financial system. Maybe they trust some of the financial system that was not taking that much advantage of them, but again, they didn’t have access to that. So, it’s like, yes, I trust an institution but are not the one anyway going to give me the money with a lower interest rate because I don’t have the credit score. I don’t have the track record to actually demonstrate that I can get into a loan. They, of course, didn’t trust these individuals, but it was just the only resource that they had. And that led to a point that we have to make a nice effort in terms of communication.
[00:12:47] Instead of marketing this program, this microfinance program, but I cannot take the approach actually to communicate that because it was part of the work of the NGO. They have such a nice long-term relationship with all these individuals. They knew all of them by name, by family, but it was a long-term relationship in trust, so we didn’t have to actually get involved there because they were trusting the NGO. There was this issue of how the whole program is going to work because you’re giving me this $500 I have to give them back in one year and it’s with that 3% interest rate. There was still some doubt in how the whole thing is going to have function.
[00:13:28] But the NGO, they did a very nice job of communicating the benefits of the program and how much cheaper than other loans it’s going to be and how is the sense of belonging to a community. We grouped them in groups of 20 families, which were already 40-50 of working individuals. They have to respond collaboratively to give back the loan. And what’s happened is that actually the percent of giving back the loan was super high. It was like 98% after two years, 98% gave back the loan.
[00:14:01] So it was a very successful rate. It didn’t have any kind of strong consequences. They don’t give back the loan. What’s happened is at some point they cannot continue in the program. It was convincing that you have some responsibility as a business, but also you are kind of protected by this community.
[00:14:19] And one of the things that I was most happy about was two years ago, after the program, I was meeting the lead of the NGO in Madrid. She came to Madrid for some visits with organizations and visited us again so we met with her. We were having this coffee with her and I was so happy when she told us that the program had become best practice.
[00:14:41] So they were expanding to a few other regions in Ecuador and also Latin America, and that they were already engaging in more funding, 4 million funding more. In starting an accelerator. So, for the business that they were a bit more advanced because there were many with ideas over there as well, and not just the traditional business.
[00:15:00] For those businesses, they were trying to separate them so they can have a fast-track to develop the idea. And I can give you a very nicest sample. So, on one side you have these traditional shops for scalability, probably it will just always be a shop in the neighborhood and that’s fine as long as you control these costs and profit issues. But there was another business that came to my mind. It was a couple; they were selling menus for the boats in the Harbor. So basically, Manabi is one of the biggest Harbor in Ecuador and also part of that region in South America.
[00:15:36] And they saw a very nice opportunity to actually have pre-cooked meals for the whole employees of the fleet, tens and tens of boats that you have employees. They were like really, really successful and really profitable. And what they did is, we were talking with them, he’s like, why don’t you expand to the mainland?
[00:15:57] You’re serving companies, you’re serving a whole fleet, which are companies and businesses, why don’t you do it also in offices? And you position yourself as a catering with a good brand for the whole region. For these kinds of businesses, they were a bit more advanced and super healthy in terms of financial health. They had this accelerator where they try to advise them, promote them to the next step.
[00:16:23] Sean: That’s amazing. It’s so coincidental because I just got out of, what is it called? My class? Doing business in emerging markets. There couldn’t be a more relevant class at Haas that covers just this for eight hours today.
[00:16:38] The other thing I would notice is you sound so passionate about this, which is like, I know people can’t see you listening to this, but
[00:16:44] Ray: I don’t know if it’s the Spanish or if it’s the…
[00:16:47] Adolfo: I always say for me it was a game changer because sometimes I’m a bit critical about consulting and everything, but my experience was that during two months I probably had more impact than during three, four years.
[00:17:00] So I was a bit biased but say for me, it was a really amazing experience to actually spend two months from your summer working more than even like in consulting sometimes some days, but the payoff was super interesting.
[00:17:14] Sean: The next natural question is what brought you to Haas.
[00:17:17] Adolfo: Yeah. This period was a big part of that actually. As I said, having this experience as in two months you get involved with an NGO, with other stakeholders, and kind of new ways of thinking because one of the ways that we were warned before going to the volunteer, you’re just a person who is giving a bit of advice. So, don’t expect to change the world. Don’t expect to do war work. And that is actually none of your concern or that they do much better than you. We were trying to genuinely just give some ideas about how we could restructure that very soon we have independence and through the transfer of the NGO to actually structure this whole process.
[00:17:55] Then I had another two projects with Deloitte that really changed my mind. My mind was there about the social impact, but actually it was like this is the right time to move out of my comfort zone, pursue the social sector or the social impact sector in a task.
[00:18:14] So one of the projects was in Columbia. We were trying to find affordable ways to get senior citizens access to health care. Okay. The problem is like when in many countries, when you are old and you don’t have the family who is supporting you and you have some medical conditions, that you’re totally out of the system.
[00:18:33] So that was a very nice interest employer that we were dealing with. And another one was with pharma in Europe that we have to try to find communication for refugees from Syria to get more information and more emphasis on the best practices to actually avoid running some health risks like diabetes.
[00:18:55] In getting involved in these two projects, I was so passionate about these topics that at some point I was not really motivated to help a client sell instead of a 1000 washing machine. It was great!
[00:19:07] It was challenging, always to do the type of project that I knew that I was starting to lie to myself if I continued doing that. So, I decided I wanted to do the MBA since like a long time before I just was waiting for the right moment. And what’s happened is that I applied to different MBAs with this hope in mind that Haas was going to accept me because like the risk, the investment is so strong that even through the application process that you end up applying to more than one business school, but Haas was super well positioned in terms of social impact. Also, the environment that is around Haas in terms of innovation, in terms of crazy ideas, crazy startups, and a lot of technology, a lot of bold movements in order to promote social change.
[00:19:51] So I want it to be close to this area. Luckily, I was accepted.
[00:19:56] So I started this always since the beginning. My clear focus has been targeting this sector no matter how long it takes me, no matter how many obstacles there are during the way. One of the main things, as an international, we have this problem of many of the small startups or impact investing funds, which is an area of focus for me that I want to learn about.
[00:20:20] They are small and they cannot have the luxury of sponsoring internationals. I’m dealing with that. I’m getting involved in probably more extracurricular things right now, like jobs. I don’t have the summer internship yet, hoping for that, but at least I would say I’m going to be very pragmatic.
[00:20:38] It could work or it could not work, so I have to go back to consulting or something like that. But at least I will have tried to make the best out of it. My plan is learning as much as I can from the social impact here at Haas, especially from the financing part, because it’s a strategy. Normally, after consulting, is it easier to extrapolate?
[00:20:57] It’s just a different focus, not just profit, but profit plus impact and different stakeholder, which are normally a bit more difficult like governments and big organizations. But the finance part is my main focus, learning about finance, learning about new models to actually deploy capital in opportunities or in areas that they are needed.
[00:21:16] People don’t do it either because they don’t see very quick or huge profits in the short term or just because it’s also too complicated so they don’t engage. I want to learn about these things. Here at Haas, there is an amazing network of professionals. Many of them are faculty or they are from the centers and institutes that is just so enriching when you talk with them and they tell you about the whole deal of innovations and approaches that they are pursuing and also trying to get involved with students into these areas.
[00:21:51] Sean: I see.
[00:21:51] Ray: I’m gonna back up a little bit. I know you mentioned IE business school. I also went to IE and as you know, it is very international. I think 80% international. You’re going from being local in your own country, then you did the Mim program to being an international student here. It’s almost kind of the opposite. I’m just curious if you’ve experienced any cultural differences and have had to adjust, whether it’s your expectations or beliefs or attitudes.
[00:22:21] Adolfo: Yeah, absolutely. I was in my comfort zone and I got out big time because I did this and am trying to pursue this triple change of a new sector, new country, new function, which people normally don’t recommend to do. At the same time, just trying, let’s see what happens. How about the culture? I’m pretty open to different things.
[00:22:44] And as an example, I was kind of famous for this the first week of the MBA. People already knew about me because I was the latest one to arrive at Berkeley. I arrived the night before starting the program and people were saying, “That’s crazy. I mean, I’m American and it took me two weeks just to adapt.”
[00:23:02] And I say, it just happens. You have to; you’re changing. So just the less you think about that, the better. I was expecting the cultural changes, cultural clashes sometimes. I didn’t have any bad experiences so far. Some things for me are fun. One of the most fun for me is that so many times to Spain and South of Europe is supposed to be indirect in the way we communicate.
[00:23:28] So not very straight, nor very direct, trying to avoid saying no. And what I’m finding here is that I’m, maybe it’s because of Berkeley or maybe it’s part of the US, but my impression was that in the US people are super straight. Actually, we are more straight than the U years, like here at Berkeley.
[00:23:44] Sometimes people, they don’t like to say no, they can’t say no, but sometimes it’s necessary. Spanish sometimes are these kinds of critical, cynical people that they always say the hard feedback. And even this thing is super fun in terms of how people think, on how people talk, communicate. More cultural differences are just the distances on the public transport is, the whole, urbanization and the whole planning of the cities is just so different from Europe. It is so car dependent. In Europe you have everything super close to each other, like the way of building, the way we use public transport.
[00:24:22] So this has been probably one of my main clashes because at the end you end up paying more time, spending more time, sorry. As well as paying more money for the same thing. Just going to buy something, just going to meet a friend. Everything is more uncomfortable in that sense.
[00:24:38] I would say I was in this kind of very convenient city, 3 million people, Madrid, where it’s this big and it’s actually big, but it’s way more convenient than what I’m experiencing here in a small city. So that was also an interesting change that I’m still getting adaptive. And the food. That is definitely the worst part for me adapting from Spain to the US. We have, yeah.
[00:25:10] Ray: Any specifics?
[00:25:11] Adolfo: Everything. When you have like better food, healthier and cheaper. Yeah. It cannot go.
[00:25:20] Sean: Ray, I think I mentioned that before, when you were in Spain, that food is…
[00:25:26] Ray: Yeah. Our food was definitely much cheaper.
[00:25:29] I mean, the produce. There’s no such thing as organic cause I feel like everything is organic and you know, the fruit might not look very appealing, but that’s because they don’t use pesticides.
[00:25:40] Adolfo: I were eat lunch. Yeah. It’s healthy. I’m a very disciplined person when it comes to eating so the US is not doing me any favor about that.
[00:25:53] Sean: I’m curious; you’re about a year in now; you have a year left. What are some classes or things that you’re looking forward to in the next year?
[00:26:02] What I’m hoping for next year is actually getting more financial stuff, getting innovation stuff or so that I can learn from people who are doing, are running their businesses here or they are a bit more technical, into the, I really like healthcare.
[00:26:18] That’s a set topic for starting with a social impact. Solutions are coming like digital health, telemedicine, these kinds of solutions that can make healthcare more affordable. So right now, one of my favorite professors here at Haas is Adair Morse. She’s a tough thought-leader in impact investing and she really knows about how to combine the finance part with also like the double bottom line financial profits as well as impact. I’m trying to get involved with some of the courses that she has. We are right now collaborating with an impact fund that is based on New York and also Utah. And we are helping them analyze the healthcare market to see how they can get involved into specific solutions that can make part of the health care, more affordable, accessible for people. This kind of, and they call it applied innovation at the MBA, uh, this kind of course that they give you practical experience and that you can also have a mentor.
[00:27:21] The mentoring from a thought leader in the specific areas. I think that I will love to repeat it, but that being said, it’s a bit difficult sometimes because there is a limit of how many courses you can do, both from the side of workload and even because of the credits.
[00:27:39] I am very strategic, always, when I think about the curriculum. I was spending so much time getting my agenda for this spring payoff because I could just get the specific courses that I wanted. I didn’t even go to the bidding process. I have my courses even before the meeting started, so I didn’t have to fight for any course.
[00:27:58] So yeah, it was like spending so much time and I will have to do it again in probably one or two months to figure out what is the best stuff that I can get in the second year, but it will be mainly focused on applied experience. Either you have to run a project, or you have to create something.
[00:28:17] Either can be an investment vehicle. It can be getting into a process of analyzing some practical, it’s kind of an externship with another company through Haas collaboration. This kind of thing is what I’m really looking for the next year and maybe also one or two strong theory and quantitative courses that even if they are not very practical, but they’re always good to renewal of the concept and to be stronger in a specific area.
[00:28:47] Ray: I think we met at an IBD conference, and so I know you’re involved in IBD, but I want to ask you, what extracurricular activities have you been involved in? Starting with IBD and possibly more?
[00:28:59] Adolfo: Yeah, exactly. We met during the conference of IBD. I’m doing IBD right now and it’s with a healthcare company in Thailand. As you mentioned, we have to figure out, the faculty has to figure out, but what’s going to happen with the travel, which is a total pity because we are three teams going to Thailand.
[00:29:17] We really wanted this experience of all the cultural immersions and having such nice colleagues there all at the same time doing three different projects. So my project is about digitizing licensed services, opening new revenue streams from e-commerce for our leading hospital group in Thailand and Asia Pacific.
[00:29:38] So the project is very interesting, actually. They chose me because of this background in healthcare and in Europe, the utilization.
[00:29:45] So apart from that, I’m involved in the Berkeley Board Fellows, which is, basically they put you in the board committee, as a normal team member of an NGO or a nonprofit in the Bay area that you have to attend different meetings in exchange of this knowledge that they provide you about how NGOs work, the insights. They require, a kind of light workload, like the weights periods and have a strategic, like strategic consulting, but very, very light workload. You collaborate with them, for instance, like reviewing the strategic plan, but not making the strategic plan, which can be a huge workload, but reviewing, giving some feedback or creating new impact metrics that they can implement in the future.
[00:30:29] Or, analyzing a specific revenue stream, which is normally like grantees or donations to see how it can improve. It’s a decent project in terms of workloads, not very time consuming and in exchange you have the opportunity to talk with the C level in the company, and even attend a couple of boards while they are in the pure actions.
[00:30:51] So this experience has been so very nice. These two programs, IBD Board Fellows and Berkeley Board Fellows were also one of the reasons that I also applied to Haas and doing the impact investing practical, which is this course for Adair Morse. They put you with a company, a collaboration, internship, and you also do impact investing projects with them.
[00:31:12] More from the side of the strategy, from impact investing to the West sector. Which sectors to invest in, how, why, what are the opportunities on the landscape more than this more the strategic side than the financial due diligence, which is not the real focus right now. And aside from that VP of a net impact club like career.
[00:31:33] So what are the events that we can do in terms of putting people in, connecting people to each other so they can expand the network. Also trying to help Christina Meinberg, who is a relationship industry manager from CMG, from careers for the social impact. So trying to be also the bridge too with her, so we can promote the opportunities for social impact.
[00:31:56] As a target this year, we’re trying to put a bit more focus on the international students so they can also have access to this sector, which is a very growing sector. Sometimes it’s a pity that international people have to go back to their countries because you always having the Haas brand is a huge deal, but sometimes you wonder if you go through the whole process of doing the MBA and then going back to your country to work in a specific nonprofit. While here in the US there are normally many more opportunities both in, because many of the headquarters or the decision making for this company or organization are in the US so it’s just a matter of you want to work internationally in the ground or actually here where more financial and decision making is done.
[00:32:43] But so this type of thing we are trying to also to promote and to figure out. Yeah, I was right now assisting a teacher that is my other so far favorite teacher here at Haas is Jorge Calderon. He’s a very tough leader, expert on social entrepreneurship. He has this course called Impact Startup Disco.
[00:33:03] When you are at least an MBA student, you can have the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for a few months for specific courses. It was an amazing experience this weekend in which 40 students brainstormed their startup ideas. Maybe they don’t even have one, but they just branched them.
[00:33:21] They submit their ideas. They vote on up to 15 ideas. Those ideas are again voted on and reduced to eight ideas and they have three days to develop the business concept. It was super intense, has been 48 hours, people working so much. And it was a very enriching experience to assist them and to see how they have developed from just a mere two-sentence description a few days ago to actually, our business concepts, a fully developed pitch that they, at least from the strategy side and from the customer on the stakeholder side of how they are going to approach the startup. They just pitched a few hours before. There was a winner about a solution for mental health in India using an app.
[00:34:06] Because sometimes the problem is about, it’s a taboo, so people don’t even want to talk about that. Promoting education and community, people supporting each other so this idea that basically was just a mere concept a few days ago, now they have much more clarity and a plan. So (it) was a very, very good experience as well.
[00:34:27] Sean: That’s amazing. You are a shining example at Haas of Beyond Yourself.
[00:34:32] Ray: Yeah, exactly.
[00:34:36] Sean: Let’s wrap this up; do you have any parting advice for incoming students?
[00:34:42] Adolfo: Yeah. What I would say is, don’t freak out when you arrive to Haas the MBA and CS
[00:34:50] Ray: Come the night before,
[00:34:51] Adolfo: Especially if you come the night before.
[00:34:53] My advice will be, this is a very expensive learning then take them out the most out of it, but prioritize your fun, your experience, and your mental health also. Don’t assume that because this is an expensive learning and this is a unique opportunity that was offered to you, you have to go crazy about every single issue or opportunity that you see on campus. Because what will happen is you will probably enjoy the experience less. And that’s something that you cannot recover. Many times, there are so many shifts and changes in the career path, in the journey that you’re going to have, and you will have time for that.
[00:35:31] But to recover the time that you have been losing because you were not enjoying what you are doing is way more difficult and way more expensive than what you’re paying. And I say that because, I’m actually an active promoter of getting people, trying to enjoy more the journey that they have, even if it’s a growing journey because it ended up going nowhere or because they are not a hundred percent sure, like many of us are never a hundred percent sure.
[00:35:56] You have to try to pursue a fair balance of a social academics career, but always do it because you want them, because you love the things and not because there is someone just pushing so hard so that you don’t even end up enjoying the whole experience.
[00:36:16] Ray: Well said. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show today, Adolfo.
[00:36:20] Adolfo: Thank you very much. It was a real pleasure.