2019 MBAs To Watch: Andrés Romero, Georgetown University (McDonough)

Andrés Romero

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

“My mantra: be humble, be Strong, be Thankful.”

Hometown: Cajicá, Colombia

Fun fact about yourself: When I was flying for my interview at Georgetown, I had a nightmare, and I screamed. It was an overnight flight from Santiago to New York, so everybody was sleeping until they woke up alarmed for my yell. I was so embarrassed that I had to pretend to be asleep for six hours until we landed.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia) – M.Sc. Engineering, B.Sc. Engineering & B.A., Political Science.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? LATAM Airlines, Senior Manager, FP&A

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? American Airlines. Dallas, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? ]I’m coming back to American Airlines as MBA Commercial Strategy Analyst. It was a no-brainer to accept the full-time offer. During the summer, I had the pleasure to work with a fantastic team in a super challenging and relevant project for the company. Not to mention that I was able to travel, for fun and free, around the US and the world during the internship.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Cohort Representative: I represented the Saxa Cohort on the student government. The focus of my work was on creating a culture driven by inclusion and collaboration.
  • VP of Marketing of Communications of the Latin American Business Association (2018): In my role, I strengthened the social media presence of the organization by including a wider audience and producing more original content.
  • Leadership Fellow: I was selected to be part of the 2019 class of fellows. The Leadership Fellows program is oriented to gain leadership experience mentoring, coaching, modeling, and facilitating the learning of others.
  • Nominated for the 2019 Georgetown Graduate Student Teaching Assistant Award: The award recognizes excellence among graduate students serving as TAs in the different schools of the university. By the time I wrote this, the award had not yet been announced.
  • Core Honors distinction: Top 10% of the class in core courses.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am very proud of having served as TA for Managerial Statistics course because it allowed me to help a lot of my classmates who struggled with statistics. During my undergrad, I had some challenging quant courses, and I noticed that a breaking point was when you have someone who gives you confidence and explains things in a familiar language. After helping some friends during my first year, I decided I wanted to apply to the TA position to support the upcoming generation. Using Instagram and slide decks with a lot of ‘memes,’ I tried to make people feel more comfortable with the content and understand it from their own experience. The immense joy when people stopped in the halls to say, ‘Thank you, you helped me a lot!’ is something I will never forget. Huge thanks to Professor Jonathan R. Stroud for his support.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Working for LATAM Airlines was a fantastic opportunity for which I’m very thankful. My most significant achievement was having the chance to help to establish and lead a multicultural, committed and high-performance team of young professionals during the merger of the company. I feel proud, not only because I had the opportunity to learn and grow as a leader, but also because I was able to support, motivate, and encourage people in my team and other divisions. Of course, I’m also proud of having had our internal clients satisfied, having contributed significantly to the company costs saving target and having delivered our work always over the expected. However, for me, those achievements are not mine alone, they belong to the effort and commitment of my team.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I’m full of gratitude for all the MBA faculty. In particular, I want to highlight professors Ricardo Ernst, John Mayo, and Robert Bies. Professor Ernst always took me out of my comfort zone and invited me to challenge myself (outsourcing is not always the answer!). I also deeply admire his commitment to Latin America. Professor May inspired me with his dedication and love for teaching and his students. I don’t remember a time in which I have encountered him, and he hasn’t stopped to say ‘Hi’ and ask me how things are (and how the non-market environment is doing these days!). Professor Bies helped me to understand the potential of power and influence not only to be a better leader but also to contribute to society (the change you want to see in the world starts with you, here, now!).

What was your favorite MBA Course? Professor Evelyn Williams’ Design Thinking class. It was a fantastic course in which we had the opportunity to work with the Netherlands diplomatic mission in D.C. The project was about re-imagining the Embassy as the gateway to strengthen the relationship between the Netherlands and the United States. The class helped me to understand better the connection between innovation and empathy. Far from being developed in an isolated lab, innovation should be found in the needs of our clients and should be promoted by providing the right conditions for our teams to explore, ideate, and prototype.

Why did you choose this business school? After a short experience as a City Council member of my hometown, I realized the public and private sectors have a lot to learn from each other and that when they work together for good, the impact to the society is not only more efficient but faster. I chose Georgetown for two main reasons. First, I wanted to be in a place in which I could find that intersection of business and politics. Could you imagine a better one than Washington D.C.? Second, I wanted to make my MBA not only a further step in my career, but also a useful tool to help to transform the society positively. I found echo for this dream, in the values of the university and in the fantastic group of people that I have met at McDonough.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be passionate about your story, invest enough time getting to know the school, and don’t limit yourself to the GMAT or the GPA. Be proud of what you have done so far. That includes acknowledging your defeats and highlighting your achievements. Then, same as when you find a job, try to get to know the school beyond what is on the internet. Get to know the alumni, students, and faculty. You will have a better perspective to answer why you want to be here. Finally, work hard on our tests, but don’t constrain yourself to them. Sometimes the experiences that are going to make the difference in your application are waiting for you beyond the GMAT books.

What is the biggest myth about your school? One of the biggest myths is that the academic rigor and job search are too intense, so you don’t get to enjoy D.C. The truth is that the school offers a lot of opportunities on and off campus to enjoy the city. For example, the Non-Market Strategy Certificate has a class for which you need to attend at least three events in different institutions including, the Congress, the World Bank, the Wilson Center, among many others. The student clubs also help us to take advantage of the extracurricular activities, such as the growing cultural and gastronomic scene or the different artists that visit the DMV [District, Maryland, Virginia] area. Not to mention, you have the chance to attend NBA, NFL, NHL and MLS games. Of course, you get the chance to visit great clubs on the weekends. My favorite: El Centro, always good to dance Latin music!

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I would like to have known that there are some things about the job search process that you can do even before applying to the program. Once you decided you want to do an MBA, same as you begin to prepare for the application and the tests, you can focus on doing a dedicated review about the companies, the functions, and the industries that you like. You can save valuable time during your first semester if you complement your GMAT study with job research. Even if you have no idea what you want to do, at least you can start the exploration stage before.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? This experience changes you not only as a professional but as a person. In my case, the MBA has helped me understand leadership from a more holistic perspective. The world is not looking anymore for business leaders who make decisions inside closed offices using just their judgment. The society is looking for leaders who inspire, motivate people, and are empathetic enough to understand what the stakeholders, shareholders, and customers want. Leaders who can unleash the potential of their teams to serve the business and the community.

Leaders also need to take care of themselves. They need to find ways to have a healthy body and a clear mind to be able to make a more significant impact. Leaders need to find a balance between work and life. I’m glad the program helped me to find a room to address this challenge with fantastic classes – such as Meditation and Leadership or Critical Conversations, and with invaluable experiences during the past two years.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Apart from every single one of the people in the Saxa cohort, whom I deeply admire, I want to mention Julio Charry. Last year Julio turned 40 years old. Many people at his age would have decided to apply for an Executive Program. However, Julio decided to pursue the Full-Time MBA because he wanted to re-invent himself. I deeply admire his willingness to embrace new challenges with enthusiasm and optimism. A big fan of soccer, he is also an excellent coach who not only would be there to congratulate you on your successes but, and more importantly, would challenge you on your deltas.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Carlos Enrique Cavelier. Mr. Cavelier is a Colombian anthropologist, sociologist, businessman, and philanthropist whom I have had the honor of calling my mentor. He currently leads one of the biggest dairies in Colombia, asking people not to call him CEO but ‘Dream Coordinator.’ Following the example of his grandfather and his father Mr. Cavelier has made of his organization – Alquería – not only a successful business but a socially responsible company that has engaged in multiple efforts to support the local communities in Colombia. The commitment of the company with its CSR is no doubt driven by Mr. Cavelier devotion and passion for social change and it has been an example for the region.

What is your favorite movie about business? Office Space (1999). For me, the biggest lesson from the movie is the importance of never losing the ability to make fun of ourselves and being self-critical. The film is a funny characterization of how sometimes we as business people forget that the world goes way beyond theories, spreadsheets, slide decks, or emails. If you like The Office and you have not seen Office Space, you definitely want to add it to your list.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? B2B makes me always think about Star Wars. Also, when anyone refers to the ABC model for critical conversations I can’t avoid starting singing in my head: “A B C, easy as one, two, three /Are simple as doe re me…”.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…applying to go next year”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? It is such a great experience that I’m not hesitant to say is priceless. It is two years devoted to growth as a person and as a professional. More than thinking about the value I focused myself on enjoying the people, the experience and the time here. Don’t take me wrong. Like many colleagues, I have a loan to pay, however, considering the impact of this experience in your life it is totally worth it, especially if you come to Georgetown.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Increase my daily meditation sessions from 10 to 20 minutes
  2. Publish a book about MBA life. So far, I have three possible names – suggestions welcome: Framework-land,’ Don’t SWOT Too Much, and Definitely…It Depends.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? He was always willing to help, to listen, to learn, and to share his optimism.

Hobbies? Traveling, dancing, reading – politics, history, and fiction especially – listening to music and watching movies and series.

What made Andrés such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Andres Romero is a born leader. His footprint at Georgetown McDonough is large, as is his personality and infectious laugh. In addition to involvement in various clubs, Andres served as his cohort representative to the faculty and administration. In that role, Andres loyally and passionately supported his fellow students. His gentle and genuine spirit was instrumental in creating a culture of gratitude, support, and high achievement among his peers. Andres’ cohort is known around McDonough for clapping and cheering for each other and for their professors in class. He cares about every member of the cohort and goes out of his way to ensure they have the resources they need. When a classmate experienced a tragedy last semester, Andres was quick to step up to assume additional responsibilities going so far as to request that his classmate be put on Andres’ study team to ensure he was well supported. He also asked members of his cohort to film brief video clips, which he put to music and organized, welcoming the new students to campus. In recognition of his dedication, his cohort bought him a McDonough fleece customized to say “el presidente”. His kindness and empathy extend past his classmates. On the day that American Airlines representatives visited McDonough last fall following his internship, he dropped by to deliver a large goodie bag of chocolates to give them energy for the day, which they loved.

Andres worked at Latam Airline Group in commercial planning and performance management in both Colombia and Chile for six years prior to beginning his MBA. In summer 2018 he interned at American Airlines in a corporate strategy analyst role and was offered a full-time job immediately following graduation.

The world needs more people like Andres Romero. He has touched numerous lives while at McDonough, and personifies our mission of developing principled leaders in service to business and society.”

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Kerry Pace
Associate Dean for the MBA Program

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