Meet Notre Dame Mendoza’s MBA Class Of 2020

Fernando Jose Quijano 

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

 “The best steel doesn’t always shine the brightest.”

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love to play sports and have tried out every single one I have come across, from soccer to water polo, football to handball, tennis to lacrosse. I might have not always have been good, but that never stopped me from trying. My peak sports accomplishment is to have played first division rugby in Norway with Stavanger Rugbyklubb.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Notre Dame, Mechanical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:

Baker Hughes, a GE Company

Sales and Applications Engineer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: It was defying the “status quo” of vendor-supplier terms and conditions in order to be competitive while maintaining margins in million dollar water management tenders.

In 2016, I dedicated myself to redefining the terms and conditions of our relationship with a strategic supplier. After six months of leading cross-functional negotiations (legal, financial, operational), I was able to reach an agreement with the supplier with never-seen terms that allowed Baker Hughes to bid the most competitive offer in a $3.5 million dollar water injection contract, while maintaining our projected margins. The company was able to use this model going forward in other tenders.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Courage. The fellow classmates I have met took different paths to Mendoza, but they all required to make compromises and hard decisions. None of them would have made it to Notre Dame if they hadn’t shown their inner Fighting Irish.

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? Since I graduated from my undergraduate studies at Notre Dame, I have been involved with the University. As a member of the Executive Board of the ND Alumni Club, I advised many prospective students to go to ND and I was able to experience first-hand the power of the Notre Dame brand and network. When it came to choosing where to go for business school, my love for all things Notre Dame, the tightness of the Notre Dame family, and the way in which Mendoza teaches business with an emphasis in ethics and values made the choice an easy one.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? On a personal level, being surrounded by athletic facilities. I chose my apartment in order to be close to the tennis pavilion and the aquatic center.

Having been a Student Manager, I am really looking forward to participating in the various networking activities and events of the Monogram Club.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After eight years in the oil & gas industry, I started to see my career development slowing down. I decided to look into ways to jumpstart it and realized that my technical-focused background made a horizontal move to a different industry a hard endeavor. An MBA degree will give me the tools and background to break into a different industry while also growing professionally.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? My initial application to a business school was to begin classes in 2017. When I received my acceptance letter accompanied by a scholarship, I realized that it was not only possible to be accepted to school, but to do so with a certain financial backing from the school. In that moment, my finances were not ready, but I decided to spend the rest of 2017 preparing myself and saving up for the cost of an MBA. This preparation was essential to deciding it was the time.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern

How did you determine your fit at various schools? When I first started searching, I focused in international rankings because I knew I wanted to go to a prestigious institution. I used the rankings of Financial Times and The Economist for this end.

My first big decision was this: Europe or the US? In the end, I decided for the US as I wanted to do a two year MBA in order to have a more complete experience and most programs in Europe only offer the one-year programs. A second factor was also my desire of staying “closer” to Colombia. I lived two years in Norway, so “new experience” and “traveling” were not that high in my list of priorities.

Once I had reduced my list of schools based on location, I knew I wanted to be close to an urban center. I started looking at each business school’s website, mostly for the mission statement and vision. I wanted a school where business was taught with an emphasis in values and ethics.

Two additional factors that were important to measure against my immediate and future goals were funding and the network, respectively. Funding is important to give you the opportunity to go to school under better conditions and the network is vital for you to reach your potential and post-MBA goals.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Arriving in the United States for my undergraduate degree.

I was 18 years old the first time I boarded a plane. At that same age, I first entered the United States on my third flight ever to attend the University of Notre Dame. The decision to leave Colombia and embark in a life-altering journey was mine from the start and challenged the mindset shared by most of my high school peers of continuing their education in Colombia. My four years at Notre Dame were a tempering experience that helped me both mature and develop my character and values, as I had to deal with many difficult moments and uphill battles while being separated by many miles from my family. This allowed me to develop into a more complete individual and a global citizen, which were characteristics essential to paving my way back to Notre Dame and an MBA.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? My goal is to be employed by a global company that will allow me to continue building my personal brand and to develop it into on that will have a lasting effect on the world and the people around me. I want to be a positive influence in the Notre Dame Family in order to help others achieve their dreams.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself returning to my home country of Colombia after a few years of working abroad, with much more knowledge and experience under my belt in order to have a positive impact on society through entrepreneurships and enterprises that will help people.

Comments or questions about this article? Email us.