2015 Best MBAs: Eric Barajas


Eric Barajas


Purdue University, Krannert School of Management

Imagine leaving a steady job and moving across the country to start an MBA program. That takes optimism and commitment. And Eric Barajas has these qualities in abundance. At Purdue, Barajas became the chairman of Krannert Gear, a student-run non-profit group that he helped launch. The organization funds improvement projects on the Krannert campus. He also held vice president roles in the student government and the energy club and was a 2014 recipient of the Krannert Impact Award.

Age: 30

Hometown: Cudahy, CA

Undergraduate School: California State University, Fullerton

Undergraduate Degree: Business Administration: Management

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Citibank North America, Senior Banker

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? Procter & Gamble – Cincinnati, OH

Where will you be working after graduation? Target Corporation (Minneapolis, MN) – MBA Merchandising Buyer

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… first priority for international assignments were being offered to my colleagues with MBAs even though I felt better prepared and equipped for those roles.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…laid off actually! My position was terminated at the bank (had I remained) a few months ago and I counted my blessings for having made the decision I did.”

What are your long-term professional goals? After working for a few years and raising a bit more capital, I plan on unfolding my business plan focused on acquiring and repurposing commercial buildings and eventually owning a property management company.

Favorite Courses: Strategic Management, Marketing, Leadership, and Pricing Strategy & Analysis

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? I am most proud of my time spent working on projects with my Krannert Gear board. As a start-up student run business, we were able to launch Krannert Gear into existence and set up a model for sustainability for classes to come. [It was] established to give back to the Krannert community. When we made our first donation back to the school (water filling station in Rawls Hall) and individuals were messaging me and thanking me for my role in this effort, I felt a sense of accomplishment and hope to bring my future children back to Rawls Hall and have some tangible item to reflect an impact I made.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? I am my father’s son, through and through. Growing up I watched him, how he interacted with people, how he gave the same level of respect to every person he came across but yet had a strong back-bone and always ensured he received the same. This behavior was ingrained in me and I was always encouraged to be sociable and willing to learn from others.  his behavior served me well in a business setting and led to many opportunities throughout my life that perhaps others did not have or did not ask for. He is a good man and taught me to strive to better myself in every interaction I had – a blessing that remains true to this day.

Why did you choose this business school? Purdue had made efforts to connect with scholarship programs for underrepresented students and this type of commitment to me and my betterment was impressive. Purdue flew me to Indiana in February and was very transparent about the weather and how different it would be from Los Angeles. I then had an opportunity to sit with two KGSA members (Matt Mangum and Corey Friedman) and I knew not only that Purdue was the right school for me, but that they would let me explore leadership roles and would encourage me to truly get involved in the Krannert Family. Within Krannert, I owe a lot to Emily Warter. Emily was my initial recruiter and she provided the support structure that I needed as I overcame the many changes involved in moving on from a stable job, moving across the country and starting a competitive MBA program. Once settled in, she encouraged me to take on leadership roles and my love for Krannert grew.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Pursuing my MBA after having worked for 6+ years post my undergraduate degree, I truly understood the value in everything I was learning and doing. It was so intriguing to me to study an operations method for instance that would have streamlined my job at the bank had I had access to that information a year prior. It was in these moments that my passion grew and that I realized that I was in a ‘safe place’ where I could take chances and explore opportunities outside of my comfort zone to gauge what my strengths were and where I needed to improve. This whole experience has been transformational!

What is your most memorable moment from business school? Receiving the Krannert Impact Award from my peers at the culmination of my first year. That designation truly motivated me to continue doing what I was doing and to jump into additional leadership roles.

Fun fact about yourself: I am fascinated with the Winter Olympics and the sport of Curling in particular, thus I have already joined a curling team for when I move to Minneapolis!

Favorite book: Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’

Favorite movie: Tombstone

Favorite musical performer: Louis Armstrong

Favorite television show: The Walking Dead

Favorite vacation spot: Half Moon Kay (Bahamas)

What are your hobbies? Hiking and extreme camping (surviving off of what the wilderness provides for one week) Reading, playing chess, exercising

Twitter Handle: @ericbaraj

What made Eric such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?

“Eric is a leader. That is apparent from the first time you meet him. But we have a lot of leaders come to the MBA program so what sets Eric apart. He works harder than most, he is kind to all, he sees the bigger picture, he gives more than he gives, he is creative and innovative, he apologizes when he’s wrong and he appreciates diversity. He leads a variety of organizations like the Energy Club, Krannert Graduate Student Association, and Krannert Gear. He is an excellent student and respected by his peers and the faculty and staff. He is what we hope for all of our students.”

– C. Tad Brinkerhoff, director, MBA and MS programs

Best of 2015

The Story: Class of 2015: The World’s Best & Brightest MBAs

The Complete List: The 50 Most Exceptional MBAs of 2015


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