Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Roberto Chavez Flores, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Roberto Chavez Flores

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

Proud Mexican, driven, loves food, golf, and a little bit of competition.”

Hometown: Morelia, Mexico

Fun Fact About Yourself: When I was around 3 years old, I would hide in the back of my father´s car so that I could join him when he would go visit construction sites. I wasn’t allowed, but wanted in on the fun!

Undergraduate School and Major: Tec de Monterrey, Industrial Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Family Owned Real-Estate Development Company, Operations and Development Director

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? For me, there were three differentiating factors for choosing Kellogg above all other programs. First, Kellogg’s collaborative culture really attracted me in comparison to other business schools. I wanted to be surrounded by smart peers with whom I could learn from and have a great time with, forging lifelong relationships. Visiting Northwestern University and the Global Hub itself, I was impressed by how willing students and professors were to openly talk to students interested in the program. You could feel the sense of community when walking through the Global Hub.

The second was the curriculum at Kellogg. Kellogg´s 1Y program was a great fit since I saw it as a more efficient way to achieve my goals. Since I was not planning on shifting the focus of my career, being out of the work environment for one year compared to two felt like the way to go. Additionally, the Real-Estate Pathway was very beneficial for my scope of work due to courses that provided the financial and methodological foundation for analyzing real estate, real estate development, etc.

Lastly, the The John L. Ward Center for Family Enterprises at Kellogg was a real attraction for me. A few of my family members had taken an Executive Education course called ‘Family Business Governance’ through the center, and I had the opportunity to attend a few classes with them. In just a few discussions, I learned a lot about how I could improve my family’s business. I knew it would be beneficial for my future.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Passionate. It has been exciting to see so many diverse intellectualities come together, bringing passion and hard work to different specialties and interests.

I’ve also been amazed by the inclusion at Kellogg. The 1Y program starts in July and some of us (international students) were not able to join the summer classes in-person. The entire class and administration have been continuously working on ways to get us (virtually) more involved inside the school and outside in a more social aspect.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? It’s hard just to choose one!

Career-wise, I’m most excited to be involved in the Real Estate and Family Enterprise Clubs. They both will afford extensive alumni networks in my realm of work which will be beneficial in my future. The Real Estate Club holds various treks and site visits that could help build upon my expertise in this area. The Family Enterprise Club will help me to address some of the unique challenges I will face working for a family business.

Additionally, from a social aspect, I´m looking forward to the annual SKI Trip, if state and local regulations allow!

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 into Kellogg?  The best teams are ones that have a diverse group of members that all bring something unique to the table. At the same time, the teammates are humble and able to recognize the expertise and strengths of others, willing to learn from them, and open to other´s ideas and perspectives. My intention is to bring my expertise into class, and I am excited to learn from my classmates who have different experiences and skillsets than me.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While working for AB InBev, I was tasked with opening 1,501 Modeloramas (ABI´s own retail stores) in a year. Opening that many stores were, ironically, easy. The harder task was ensuring that I created a positive business impact by opening them in the right locations. With no previous experience in retail or construction, I surrounded myself with a great team, collaborating with other areas in the company, to create a clear process that allowed for the development of a new tool to identify optimal store locations. By the end of the year, we opened 1,514 stores with above budget profitability and the tool we developed was adopted by other areas in the business.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? To be honest, I was not looking to get an MBA at this point of my career. My mindset was to get an Executive MBA, as I was already in a senior position and thought it would be a more fruitful environment.

However, once Covid-19 hit, it severely affected Mexico’s real-estate business and put several professional projects temporarily on hold. I quickly realized the impact an MBA could have at such critical time, allowing me to accelerate out of the gates when the initial impact subsides.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I only applied to Kellogg for my MBA. However, when considering EMBA’s, I was planning to apply to Kellogg, Stanford, and Berkeley.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I think the most challenging part was self-reflection.

I decided to apply to Kellogg with little time to spare and went through the entire application process in less than a month. I was forced to think extensively about my goals and reflect on where I wanted to be and why in a short period of time. It was a rewarding exercise to learn more about myself.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I determined fit in two main ways. First was the culture. I talked and met with alumni, which gave me a deeper understanding of the culture and the experience I would have. Also, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit campus which I found to be a huge resource as I got to meet with advisors, talk to students, and take a class. This was the best way to really get a feel of the student experience.

My second consideration was the academic rigor. I knew I wanted a program that was strong in areas like real estate and family Business, which Kellogg provided. Online resources like Poets&Quants were a huge help in narrowing the list.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I don’t think there is a specific moment that shaped who I am, but I definitely believe that my values have shaped the decisions I´ve made that got me to where I am today.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I am a little biased because I worked there for five years, but AB InBev is my favorite company. I think there are a lot of things business students could learn from AB InBev, but there are two main takeaways that are important to share.

ABInBev has a ‘people culture’. They carry the mindset of hiring better people than yourself, which I believe is the key to the success of a company. Having the right people leading your business will ensure better results even in difficult times.

Second is humbleness. The ability for top management to remain humble cascaded down the company, making it a proliferous environment for sustainable growth.

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