2016 MBAs To Watch: Marcos Fernandez, University of Texas (McCombs)

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Marcos Fernandez


University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

Age: 28

Hometown: El Dorado Hills, CA

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Arizona – Engineering Management; Chemical Engineering minor

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? KPMG LLP Advisory – Senior Associate Management Consulting with State and Local Government entities

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? SoFi, San Francisco, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? SoFi, Product Marketing Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow and Scholarship; MBA Community Service Chair; Board Fellow for Breast Cancer Awareness Center of Central Texas; Mentor at KIPP Austin Schools; TEX Talks Podcast and Speaker Series Co-Founder; OnePayApp.com Marketing Advisor; Elected to Graduate Business Council

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It has to be the TEX Talks Podcast and Speaker Series, which was something that I created along with some help from classmates. Our mission is to identify, capture, and share the entrepreneurial spirit that surrounds UT and the Austin community. We invite local entrepreneurs to speak to current UT students and then share their recordings via podcast formats.

I’m really proud of this one because we’ve been able to grow TEX Talks from an idea on paper to an established program on campus. While we’re still learning lessons and experiencing some growing pains, it’s been a great way to meet some of Austin’s top entrepreneurs and connect classmates with their advice. I’ve been able to learn what it’s like to create something from scratch and work with some amazing peers. Check us out for yourself at TEXtalks.info.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It would be acting as the Project Management Lead for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act system in the State of Nevada (around $80 million). With a tight deadline and a laundry list of requirements, I was able to work with a dedicated and talented group of professionals to get the system live on October 1. It wasn’t until I read about the thousands of people who had access to health care the following weeks that I realized the impact we had to their well-being.

Who is your favorite professor? I’ve had some amazing professors while at UT Austin, but my favorite has been Professor John Doggett. While his courses, lectures, and case competition judging were one in a million, it was his ability to inspire that sets him apart. Once in his office, he asked me three questions that changed my outlook on the world and my future ambitions: “What do you like doing more than anything in this world?”; “What are you good at, the best talent you have?”; and “How can you combine those two together? That’s where you’ll find happiness.”

Favorite MBA Courses? Entrepreneurial Growth (Professor John Doggett), Strategic Marketing (Professor Kate Mackie), Investment Banking (Professor Stefan Morkoetter, University of St. Gallen), Law for Entrepreneurs (Professor Chris Meakin), and Analysis of Markets (Professor Ty Henderson)

Why did you choose this business school? UT Austin brought a great global reputation, challenging courses in information management and entrepreneurship, and is located in an entrepreneurial hub with the 40 acres in the heart of Austin. Not to mention the breakfast tacos!

What did you enjoy most about business school? Sounds cliché, but hands down it had to be the people I’ve met. UT attracts some of the top talents from around the world while also cultivating a laid-back and social atmosphere. Initially, I was blown away by the amazing accomplishments of my peers, but over time really grew to appreciate the open and sharing atmosphere the school and city provides. This also resonated with alumni who have generously shared their time over coffee and phone calls when teaching me more about their industries and post-grad experience. The students and alumni all share the “roll up your sleeves” and “give back” mentality that has made UT a top business school.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? It’s the same lesson I’ve learned at countless all-you-can-eat buffets: “Your eyes are often bigger than your stomach.” While it’s good to try new clubs and experiences, it’s important to focus on those that are most impactful. It’s a lesson that really stuck after reading The One Thing by Gary Keller in my first year. If it’s not aligned with my 5/10 year goal, then it’s not something I should spend substantial time on.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? How social the program and peers were. I was pleasantly surprised that many of my classmates also enjoyed exploring the sights and sounds of Austin, especially during ACL and SXSW weekends!

What was the hardest part of business school? Saying “no” to certain opportunities. In B-school there’s always an opportunity to join an organization, attend a conference, or help with some project. It’s something that makes the experience great, but can also be a challenge if it’s not aligned with your own personal goals as a student and professional.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Let your personality shine in your application and interview. UT is home to some amazing people who know how to focus on their school and professional work, while also enjoying life to the fullest. It’s a warm and welcoming culture, so make sure to let your own warmth show when applying. Also drop a Hook Em!

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I realized that I didn’t want to work in state government and health care moving forward. I wanted to continue working in tech, but was ready to transition to a start-up environment in an emerging market.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… founding and growing a management consulting practice in Orange County with some former KPMG co-workers.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? I really admire Will Davis of Able Lending. Not only has Will been a successful entrepreneur since graduating from HBS, but he is a devoted family man. I once had the chance to ask him how he balances his work life while also making time to raise a family. He answered, “You have to pick the few things that mean the most to you. I chose to focus on Able, my family, and my church.” As a person who aspires to be both an entrepreneur and family man in the near future, it showed me that you can be successful at both.

What are your long-term professional goals? In the short-term I’m excited to be joining a fast-growing and innovative company post-graduation with SoFi. I’m a big fan of the company’s goal to disrupt banking while growing in the emerging FinTech market.

In the long-term, I hope to found a b-corp organization focused on providing food services to the poor and homeless. I want to start in the Bay Area and grow from there. Look out for NoFo (No Food Left Behind) in 2020!

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My dad. He’s been the biggest inspiration in my life, and is the epitome of the American Dream. As a Mexican immigrant in the second grade, he challenged himself to be an MBA graduate and rise through the ranks in banking throughout his career. Not to mention never letting his family come second to work or professional stress. I got my work ethic from him and learned to never take shortcuts in life or in work.

Thanks Dad for everything — I’m a lucky to have you as a father and mentor. Even though I let you beat me in golf from time to time 😉

Fun fact about yourself: I have a small phobia for balloons … no joke! I had one pop in my face as a kid and now get nervous when I’m in a room full of them. Birthday parties and celebrations haven’t been the same since!

Favorite book: How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen. Amazing read and one that will be dusted off every two to three years

Favorite movie: Happy Gilmore. I’m an old-school Adam Sandler fan and know every line to this one

Favorite musical performer: Radiohead, and Kendrick Lamar as a close second; Mumford & Sons for best live performance

Favorite television show: “Pardon the Interruption”

Favorite vacation spot: Kirkwood, California. As an avid skier, there’s no other place I’d rather spend a day than enjoying a powder day at my favorite Nor Cal resort

Hobbies? I like doing anything outdoors really (skiing, trail running, backpacking), playing basketball/golf/football, rooting on my U-of-A Wildcats, and date nights with my soon-to-be wife Jessica.

What made Marcos such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Marcos Fernandez is a force for good. As just one example, discovering a fellow classmate was going to be a father in the fall of his first year, Marcos offered to help by taking notes or updating him on any missed classes. You are as likely to find Marcos helping a classmate as you are to find him organizing a park clean-up, a toy drive, or a schoolwide fundraiser. For Veteran’s Day, Marcos spearheaded an event to recognize his peers who served our country and recruited fellow students to write letters of appreciation to deployed soldiers. Given his penchant for giving back, Marcos’ classmates elected him to be the Community Service chair for the Graduate Business Council. In this role, Marcos ran the successful McCombs Movember fundraiser and organized a variety of community service events for MBAs to give back to the local community. Beyond school, Marcos serves as a Board Fellow for Breast Cancer Awareness Center of Central Texas and a mentor at KIPP Austin Schools.

“At McCombs, we select students who will ‘leave the place better than they found it.’ Marcos embodies that spirit and has participated in the continuous pursuit of excellence in the Texas MBA program. When he saw an opportunity to capitalize on the entrepreneurial spirit of the program and engage local entrepreneurs in conversations that would benefit his peers, Marcos co-founded the TEX Talks Podcast and Speaker Series. Marcos spearheaded the first season, invited entrepreneurial leaders, raised sponsorship funds, secured venue partnerships, built a website, and launched this new initiative that will endure beyond his tenure. The Series has been an inspiring addition to the entrepreneurial ecosystem of McCombs and Austin.

“He is a valued member of the Class of 2016 and exemplifies service leadership. He will start his post-MBA career making an impact at SoFi in San Francisco, where he interned this summer. We look forward to seeing the continued ripple effects of his positive impact within our community and beyond.”

Tina Mabley

Assistant Dean, Full-Time MBA Program

University of Texas at Austin

McCombs School of Business



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