Meet Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class Of 2021

Juan Felipe Builes Villegas

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

“I am a passionate, value-oriented and disciplined Colombian committed to climate change mitigation.”

Hometown: Medellin, Colombia

Fun Fact About Yourself: Within three years, I lived in six different cities for over four months each: Paris, Metz, Paris, Berkeley, Medellin, West Palm Beach, and Oakland

Undergraduate School and Major: Escuela de Ingenieria de Antioquia, Industrial Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Tesla, Commercial Account Manager

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At my former company, NEXTracker, I created a project P&L tool to analyze the financials of any given project. I deployed it across the entire worldwide fleet, impacting $800 MM in annual revenue.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? My classmates embody high-impact and low-ego. During Kellogg’s admit weekend (aka Day at Kellogg), Assistant Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid, Kate Smith shared several of my peers’ very impressive professional achievements. For instance, one classmate has completed an Ironman and multiple triathlons. And yet, when I meet my new classmates, what I heard first, was their personal stories and life experiences, not their resumes. Our community is comprised of thoughtful, caring humans who also happen to rock at work.

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 main differentiating factor for me was the culture. From faculty to its alumni, Kellogg has a strong collaborative culture and a deep sense of community. I wanted to be part of an ecosystem and a brand that I would be proud to carry for the rest of my life. An MBA is not a short-term decision, but rather a lifetime investment. I define Kellogg as a densely-talented community with high EQ.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? The Energy & Sustainability Club! It’s a perfect opportunity to connect with leaders from different sectors of the CleanTech industry and to learn from real-world problems. Personally, I’d like to lead a trek [industry focused trips in partnership by the Career Management Center] to Colombia and Brazil designed to connect the key players within the energy industry.

Kellogg is often described as “team-driven.” In your experience, what is the most important quality of a team member? How do you intend to bring that in a culture where “students run everything” I think that awareness is the most important factor. Within a top MBA ecosystem, we must be humble enough to listen and brave enough to showcase our strengths. In my case, I am an ambitious individual with a strong passion and background in renewable energy. Hence, leading treks and energy projects will be a great opportunity to add value to the community.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “Let’s not talk about your professional life for a minute, tell me about your greatest personal achievement.” I was not expecting my interviewer to care as much about my personal life as my professional life. That single, powerful question speaks volumes about Kellogg’s culture.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Personal and professional growth. After five years of work experience, I wanted to pause and reflect on my career. An MBA enables me to self-assess, learn new skills, and strategically reposition my career for the next forty years of my professional path.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Berkeley, Yale, Ross, Cornell, and McCombs

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I looked at three main factors: Culture (smart and humble student body), national and international reputation, and rankings. For me, a necessary way to assess these factors was to visit each school and connect with students and alumni.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My father’s financial struggle in Colombia raising four children, all under 15 years old. This experience taught me the immeasurable value of family and purpose.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I would like to be in the C-suite of a large CleanTech organization in Colombia, driven by purpose and meaningful impact. Also, I would like to become a leader within the energy sector and contribute to the social and economic development of my country. Therefore, I would consider a public or political position.

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