“Proud Venezuelan and Private Equity geek who enjoys sports, music, mentoring and traveling.”
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela
Fun Fact About Yourself: Don’t challenge my wife and I on karaoke, we are the best duet ever
Undergraduate School and Major:
Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB), BA in Economics
IESA Business School, MS in Finance
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Evolvere Capital, Founding Team Member
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far? It would be being a founding team member of Evolvere Capital, the first Private Equity fund in the history of Venezuela, and creating through this initiative the Private Equity industry in my country. Ever since starting operations almost five years ago, we have traveled throughout the country several times looking for companies to acquire. After analyzing more than 200 Venezuelan companies and having successfully acquired three of them, we have achieved a great understanding of three things: the necessities and realities of our economy; how to operate companies in a highly complexed economic and financial environment; and most importantly, we have protected the income of many families during Venezuela’s harshest economic crisis by improving the financial and operational results of our portfolio companies. I have no doubt we have built up a mechanism, and an industry, that will be fundamental for the recovery process that (hopefully) Venezuela will witness in the near future.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I think being supportive. It is incredible how my classmates are willing to help with any problem or issue that has come up, regardless of the fact that I’ve only met them virtually. This help has been fundamental, especially during the months before starting classes that are very stressful. Starting with how to deal with the Visa issue (in the case of International students), relocating, finding housing, buying furniture, buying a new computer, you name it! All in all, I’ve found an incredibly supportive network of classmates, or better said, friends, who have been of terrific help during the last months and that I’m thrilled to meet in person in the days to come.
Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Without a doubt, the collaborative culture that identifies Kellogg. When I was researching business schools to apply, I tried to find a balance between the schools’ ranking and their culture. By talking to alumni and current students, I identified Kellogg as a place where I could see myself spending two of the best years of my life, in an atmosphere of collaboration. Here I am sure I’ll be building ties with people that will understand me, that will be empathetic and supportive, as we all grow as professionals and as people. I was amazed to see how similar the testimonies from alumni were about how they felt about Kellogg. I just wanted to be part of that!
Another major factor that I want to stress is that Kellogg, in my opinion, is one of the best, not to say the best, program for partners that are joining students during their MBA experience. My wife will be joining me during these two years and for me it’s very important that she also maximizes her stay at Evanston. In that regard, Kellogg’s offering for partners, or Joint Ventures (JVs) as they are called, is better than in any other top US Business School, so that was a fundamental part for my decision as well.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? One of the activities that I’m looking most forward to being a part of during my time in Kellogg is the so-called “Private Equity Lab”. After being part of a Private Equity firm in a frontier market such as Venezuela, where the extraordinary becomes ordinary, I want to have an experience in a firm from a developed market to understand the nuances of management and operational styles. I am eager to learn best practices, new forms of financing deals, among others. This “Private Equity Lab” provides Kellogg students the opportunity to work (pro-bono) for Chicago-based Private Equity firms during school time, which grants the opportunity to “open your eyes,” so to speak, as to how these firms work.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I think that what led me to pursue an MBA was my intention to become a well-rounded leader. The first thing to acknowledge is that, no matter how many years of professional experience you have, there is always room to grow. So, I was in a point of my professional career where, after some incredible years building up the Private Equity industry in my country, I wanted to grow as a professional and to improve several skills that I think are fundamental for my future objectives. Also, I wanted to build a global network of talented, yet down-to-earth classmates that I know – someday, somehow – we will help each other in our future endeavors. And in this regard, one of the things that I cherish the most about Kellogg is the high-impact low-ego approach that characterizes the entire Kellogg community.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Without a doubt, an MBA is a major investment, both in terms of time and money. One should analyze in depth the cost of opportunity of attending an MBA because putting on hold your professional career and spending two years without earning a salary are major decisions to take. In my case, I ran a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis of an MBA degree for the schools I wanted to apply. And after computing those results with qualitative variables such as the global networks I’ll build, the cutting-edge practices in finance and other fields that I’ll be in touch with and the professional and personal skills that I will strengthen and develop in these two years, I decided to go for it. At the end, more than an investment, an MBA is a bet, a bet on yourself.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Wharton, Berkeley-Haas, London School of Economics, Columbia and Yale SOM
How did you determine your fit at various schools? To determine my fit with various schools, I created a matrix of factors like their culture, the quality of their finance department, of their Private Equity-focused content, their global outlook/perspective, their location, and what they offered to my wife (among others). I tried to speak with several alumni and current students to understand their views towards their schools, and in that way, to understand if that said program was a fit for me. I asked what they enjoyed the most, what they didn’t like about it, and the areas for opportunity. I think that when you talk with 4 to 5 people from different ages and nationalities that come from the same program, you build a well-rounded opinion about it and about that program’s culture. Another topic very important for me was my fit with the hosting city. And by being a sports, music and architecture passionate, I found a perfect fit with the city of Chicago.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment was on October 2005, when my father died after having to sell every family asset to combat his fight against diabetes. My mother and I were bankrupt, and we were even evicted from our home. All of this happened during my first week of undergraduate studies.
We had lost everything. However, the most important part of my story is how it shaped who I am. First, I learned that any obstacle, regardless of its type, can be overcome. The day after burying my father, I walked into my first Economics course because I decided my education had no time to waste. Then, with sacrifice, resilience and hard work, I managed to win several scholarships and earned my degree with honors.
This episode also taught me we must be completely confident that we’re up for any challenge life puts in our path. That this confidence, plus a high-impact low-ego approach to life, is required if we want to improve our realities; and that we should invariably use everything we learn through hardship to help build a better society.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? As of today, I have two potential plans after graduation. The first is to be part of a global private equity firm, where I’ll be able to create impact by doing the thing that I enjoy the most. The alternative plan is to run a search fund, practice entrepreneurship by acquisition and apply a corporate governance technology based on private equity in the company this fund will buy.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Personally, with at least one kid, and professionally, maybe being part of a global private equity firm unleashing corporate value for its investors and partners alike. Or on a more entrepreneurial note, running a search fund.