2017 Best MBAs: Antonio Jimenez, Boston University (Questrom)

Antonio Jimenez

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

“Fitness entrepreneur who loves his family and will never give up.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Valencia, Venezuela

Fun fact about yourself: I am obsessed with food. When I am not working on my business or reading for class, you can find me either eating some yumminess or working out at the gym to burn the extra calories

Undergraduate School and Degree: Universidad de Carabobo, B. S. Mechanical Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I was a design release engineer at General Motors Venezuela. I also was the co-founder and manager at my company, FitFood, the first healthy food manufacturing company in Venezuela.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? I worked as a Leadership Development Intern at Sensata Technologies. Sensata designs and manufactures sensors and controls for the automotive industry and other industrial applications located in Attleboro, MA.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working at Sensata Technologies in a rotational program as a Leadership Development Professional.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I am the Vice President of Students and Alumni Relations in Questrom Graduate Student Council and I am actively involved in the Latin American MBA Club. Additionally, I volunteer as an Admission Ambassador for the school.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am very proud of the work I have done to help my international peers during my time at business school. During my first year, I initiated an internship panel for international students, where I asked students with internship offers to share their experiences and other advice with international students who did not have internships at the time. The internship panel has become a fixture of the first year international student experience and will continue to provide guidance for overseas students after I have left BU.

I also became a member of graduate student council to make sure the voice of international students was heard. On graduate council, I completed a negotiation with the administration to eliminate a burdensome fee international students were required to pay in order to accept an internship. Given the strength of the US dollar, this fee was extremely difficult for international students to afford. I am passionate about advocating for my fellow international students and am very proud that I have been able to affect real change for them within the Questrom MBA program.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Founding and growing my own company in Venezuela has been the most challenging and fulfilling feat of my professional career. I was inspired by the possibility of channeling my passion for fitness to create healthier, happier homes, and a better future for children and families. I also wanted to give back to my country, despite its political and economic uncertainty. FitFood was the first healthy food manufacturing company in Venezuela. Starting from my small kitchen making products and selling them through social media, FitFood is now in more than 40 stores across four cities in Venezuela. We are able to employ more than 10 people who truly need work in these difficult times. Our products have touched hundreds of lives. Operating in a country with so much scarcity, it is incredibly rewarding when our customers thank us after trying our products. Filled with excitement, they explain to us that they can now provide healthy snacks for their children with dietary restrictions.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite class was Data Mining. I discovered how data changes the game for business today and how it is used by most successful businesses make decisions in every aspect. There, I learned how Fortune 500 companies have been created by just using data properly. Moreover, I learned to use tools to perform my own analyses so I can actively transform businesses to be more data-driven. This opened up for me a new way of thinking about business.

Why did you choose this business school? Questrom offers an excellent dual degree program of M.S. in Information Systems along with the MBA. Coming from an engineering background, I have always been a technology enthusiast. In my undergraduate studies, I truly wanted to major in Software Engineering, but that career was not offered at my country at the time. Boston University understands that technology is a major influence on the way business is done. Besides that, I wanted to be close to a learning and entrepreneurial hub with such renowned schools as those in Boston.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? What I enjoyed the most is how you can get to know and get along so well with people with such diverse backgrounds. Every time I meet someone new, it surprises me how different our backgrounds can be, and still we are in the same program.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? What surprised me the most was the amount of work that being in business school involved. Coming from an engineering background, I thought the MBA program could not be that difficult. How mistaken I was.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? To incoming students, I’d say: make sure to confidently articulate in your application why do you think Boston University will help you achieve your professional and personal goals. Look at the school’s values and reflect on how your values are aligned with the Boston University. Finally, don’t be scared to ask any current student or alumni for some time to chat. Most people are very willing to help and the worst you can get is a “no”.

What is the biggest myth about your school? There is a great deal of information online where they make you believe that the environment is very competitive among students. At least at Boston University, nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone is always more than willing to help.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret is dedicating too much time to the academic part of the program. This prevented me from sharing more with my friends and peers at the program and taking advantage of the countless opportunities Boston has to offer.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I definitely admire Hilary Hall. Hilary is doing the full-time program and she helps the school as Admissions Ambassador. But being a student is just a small part of her life. Hilary is also a wife and mother of three who still has time to exercise, eat healthy, and rock in business school. Besides all that, she is a fighter. She has beaten cancer twice. She accomplishes everything she is determined to do, like running the Boston Marathon while raising an unbelievable sum for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. To me, she is the perfect example of what I live by: she never gives up.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…when I found the political and economic situation in my country unbearable. As much as I tried to give back, it was the time for me to dedicate my energy to expanding my knowledge in business so that I can achieve a better future.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working to expand my company to another Latin American country. After doing lots of research and traveling to many other countries in Latin America, I found similar trends in people caring more and more about their health and looking for ways to eat healthier. Similar to Venezuela, there were not many healthy options in these places either. Panama was our target.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would love to build a company again on a much bigger scale and expand internationally. This company would also be related to my passion for health and fitness. I have never enjoyed working for someone else as much as working to build something of my own. I started my company while working full-time at GM, which meant having no social life for almost two years. I didn’t even care. Growing the company was intimidating and immensely rewarding at the same time.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family. Both my parents, being engineers and entrepreneurs themselves, have been my absolute support. They have encouraged me to pursue my dreams and continue to be better every day. My sister Zara, who is the co-founder of my business and is also in the MBA program at Boston University, has made being in another country feel more like home. Last but not least, I want to thank my girlfriend Claudia. She is still in my native Venezuela and, even though it has been incredibly challenging for both of us being apart this long, she has been there for me pushing me to be better every step of the way. They are without a doubt the key to my success.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Like I’ll remember them: As my friends.

Favorite book: I wish it was something more serious, but my favorite is Harry Potter.

Favorite movie or television show: It changes every once in a while, as of now Game of Thrones.

Favorite musical performer: The Beatles

Favorite vacation spot: Orlando, FL. Nothing beats going to Disney World.

Hobbies? Above all, I love eating great food. I also love Crossfit, doing gymnastics, swimming and weightlifting.

What made Antonio such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Antonio is dedicated to Questrom and to creating the best possible student experience for himself and students across all programs. Being an Admissions Ambassador, a TA, a club leader, and a dedicated student are all jobs he takes very seriously. In addition to the many official roles Antonio has taken on in his time here, he also has served as an unofficial ambassador and advocate for our international student population. Even before he joined Council as the VP of Student and Alumni Relations, he worked with a group of students and the administration to revise the curriculum, for both MBA and specialty Master’s students, in a way that provided a significant cost savings to international students that previously had to pay for a class to accompany their summer internships. He has also advocated for adding a dedicated Council representative for the international student population as part of his efforts to increase the involvement and representation of all student populations across all graduate programs at Questrom. I look forward to seeing what else he can accomplish with the same levels of caring and dedication in his post-MBA career.”

Gina Galland
Associate Director, Graduate Student Engagement

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