Meet The Imperial MBA Class Of 2019

Marco Gomez Jenkins

Imperial College Business School

Hometown: San Jose, Costa Rica

Fun Fact About Yourself: I flew in NASA’s “vomit comet,” an airplane used to accustom astronauts to the zero-gravity environment experienced in space. During the flight, I was testing a radiator for a rocket engine designed to one day take people to Mars.

Undergraduate School and Major: Georgia Institute of Technology, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering. Delft University of Technology, Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Co-founder and Project Manager of the Space Systems Laboratory at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: After completing an MSc in Aerospace Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, I started working at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology in my home-country. My main role was working as Project Manager of Irazú, a project consisting of designing, building, and launching Costa Rica’s first satellite to monitor rainforest growth in the country. The satellite was launched on May 11th, 2018 from the International Space Station and has been operating for the past six months, recording data that will support Costa Rica’s goal of becoming a carbon neutral entity by 2021. My biggest accomplishment was working for over three years on placing the spacecraft in orbit and overcoming what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles to make it happen.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? It would definitely be collaborative. During the MBA, I have had the chance to work with my classmates in various team assignments and there is a very strong sense of camaraderie. During his opening words to the cohort, programme director Dr. Andreas Eisingerich compared us to a tribe that will support each other throughout the year and our careers. After only spending a couple of months with my classmates, I am sure I will form many meaningful and long-term friendships.

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? The aspect that most interested me about the MBA programme at Imperial College Business School is its multidisciplinary approach. The Business School encourages collaboration with other departments from Imperial College London, which allows you to collaborate with professors and students from some of the best engineering, science, and medicals schools in the world so you can develop projects and ventures. Moreover, with projects such as the Imperial Innovation Challenge and the Entrepreneurial Journey, the Business School is truly a place where an idea can become reality.

An additional benefit of attending Imperial is living in London, a vibrant city with endless activities for all interests. Ranked as the best city in the world for university students by the QS World University Rankings, it is filled with professional opportunities and cultural life. The South Kensington area (where the Imperial campus is located) is one of the most beautiful parts of London, which includes various museums, restaurants and parks that you can visit on your spare time in-between courses.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? The activity that really resonated with me when I was reading over the Full-Time MBA brochure before coming to Imperial was the Entrepreneurial Journey. This is a six-month project consisting of developing an idea into a full business plan, working as part of a multidisciplinary team with members coming from various departments of the university. During the project, you are supported by the staff of the business school to explore the challenges of creating a startup and launching a product or service. The project ends with a pitch competition, where you can compete for a monetary prize. I am really excited to start the Entrepreneurial Journey this coming January and testing a few ideas which I believe could be commercialised.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Working at the Space Systems Laboratory of the Costa Rica Institute of Technology allowed me to gain valuable skills in project management. That being said, by dealing with an ever-expanding team, tremendously complex timetables, and increasing funding requirements, I recognised that I had to strengthen my technical grasp of management, and financial-related topics. I also started to observe more opportunities in the space sector, which encouraged me to make a transition from academia into industry. I believe an MBA will allow me to develop vital skills in marketing, strategy, and operations management, which will allow me to achieve my professional goals. I am also substantially increasing my professional network with talented and motivated individuals. By working side-by-side with classmates and instructors from around the world, I am gaining invaluable insights from individuals leading their professional lives under cultures and values radically different from my own.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? When I seriously considered applying for MBA programmes, I stated seeking advice from colleagues, friends, and family who had already received their MBA degrees. They came from a variety of backgrounds (both geographically and professionally), but they all said that the MBA was definitely worth the investment. It was not only because of what they teach you in the classroom, but from the connections you make and opportunities that arise during the year. Although I just started the programme a few months ago, I understand now what they were saying and am very happy to have taken this leap. I was also fortunate enough to receive financial support from Imperial College Business School through their Future Leaders Scholarship, which helped me reduce the financial burden of studying abroad for a year.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? MIT Sloan School of Management

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I consider myself a technical person with an entrepreneurial spirit and I wanted to attend a university that represented this key trait. Therefore, I searched for business schools that were part of universities with a strong STEM background, which promoted innovation, collaboration between departments and had resources for entrepreneurs. Additionally, I was looking for business schools which were located in some of the world’s greatest cities with exciting opportunities. The third criterion was selecting MBA programmes that lasted one year, since I didn’t want to be out of the professional environment for multiple years. After an exhaustive search, I came to the conclusion that Imperial was the perfect fit for me.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? When I started working as a Project Manager at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, I had basically no experience leading a team. My professional and academic background was very technical and suddenly I had an immense responsibility set upon my shoulders: to lead a team to create my country’s first satellite. The first months were very tough for me, since I had to work on technical aspects of the project during work hours and learn about project management, budgeting and scheduling management and fundraising during my spare time. As the project progressed, I found myself becoming a capable manager, leading my team through the satellite’s development, negotiating with stakeholders, and promoting the project in various conferences around the world. It was a very difficult transition, but it helped me become a better leader and professional.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? With the technological advancements that have occurred in the last years in the space industry, people have been able to start their own satellite companies straight out of business school or even from their own garages! The reduction in satellite costs and development time has led to a booming space industry, which feature a new wave of exciting startups. After graduation, I would like to start my own company, developing application of space technologies that could generate a positive impact for every person on Earth.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Space technology is present in our everyday lives, from GPS navigation to satellite TV. Nevertheless, we are barely scratching the surface regarding its applications. I believe that in the following years, we will be living in a world where satellite technology will provide everyone more benefits to improve and enrich our daily lives. I want to work over the next five years to make this vision a reality.

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