Eric Goytia Nummedal
“A son, brother, and uncle. An explorer, athlete, relentless optimist, and a hugger.”
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Fun Fact About Yourself: I am a first-generation American, born of polar opposite parents (Mother: Buenos Aires, Argentina & Father: Oslo, Norway).
Undergraduate School and Major: B.Sci. Neurobiology & B.Sci. Biochemistry, University of Oregon, Class of 2016
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Product Development Manager at Advanced BioCatalytics Corporation
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? USC Marshall has increased its focus on the science of management – using quantitative metrics to guide decision-making. As businesses have increased their ability to collect and compile data, they have expanded their understanding of how to use those data to contribute to the common good. Whether it be through personalized medicine, more efficient transportation systems, or reducing global food waste, data has amplified the impact which businesses can have. As future business leaders, we must be able to understand how to effectively implement data-driven insights into our decisions. This is a skill that I wanted to build during my MBA learning, and Marshall has set the bar for a more analytically driven curriculum.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? Mindful Marshall. As business students, we are naturally inclined to expect more – both of ourselves and the world around us. Left unchecked, it is easy to be consumed by this insatiable desire. Mindfulness is a way to resist this urge, by allowing us to appreciate the present – exactly as it is. This self-reflection serves two purposes: 1. It allows us to be at peace with our fears and anxieties, and 2. It allows us to control how we think, thus who we become. By integrating wellness into the MBA experience, we can grow into a fuller version of ourselves during this fortunate period of our lives.
What was your first impression of USC Marshall? How has that changed or been reinforced since then? At my alma mater, a tailgate meant: a few people standing around an ice chest on the back of a truck. When I was invited to a tailgate at USC in the Fall of 2019, I had similar expectations. What I found were fully catered food and drinks, the marching band, and 500+ people all coming together around their university. I grew up in Southern California, and had always been familiar with the reverence the USC lineage has for their alma mater. However, to experience the tie that binds the Trojan Family was a memorable experience. Since beginning my USC experience, I have come to recognize that the Trojan Family is not only united by shared passion, but also compassion. This idea of “Trojans helping Trojans” has been reinforced by my experience. For every alumni, classmate, or faculty who has been willing to lend a hand, I have felt compelled to do the same. I am grateful to be a part of this impressive community.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In a prior role, I was responsible for manufacturing cancer immunotherapies for a Stage II Clinical Trial. It was anything but a glamorous position. It required long hours spent in sanitary environments devoid of social interaction, working on weekends and holidays. I was handling human brain, ovarian, and blood tissue, and using those supplies to create a treatment for stage IV cancer patients. The work we did was both advancing the frontiers of scientific knowledge, and providing hope for those that needed it most. The most valuable contributions any of us can make are those which improve the lives of others.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I spent most of my career in various biological and biochemical laboratories and was missing core management fundamentals. I wanted to improve my understanding of technical skills like methods to harness the power of data, as well as softer skills like leadership in the midst of crisis. I wanted to expand my network in Southern California, while exploring opportunities outside my traditional interests. Finally, I wanted to feel like I was a part of a community motivated to learn more about themselves and about each other. I am fortunate to have found all of the above (and more) at Marshall.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? In any interview, there are certain questions which are to be expected: “Tell me about yourself,” “why do you want to come here,” and “what can you bring to this position?” These are questions which constitute the basis for interview preparation. What is more difficult to prepare for are those questions which probe a little further into your answers. They require you to reflect on experiences which, perhaps, you had not given much time reflecting on up until that point. They require you to think critically under spontaneous circumstances.
I had a very positive experience interviewing with Evan Bouffides because it felt like a conversation. I could sense that he was genuinely interested and curious about my story. However, what is always challenging is when we are asked to speak to chapters within our story, that we forgot existed.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized financial aid when determining my fit at the schools which accepted me. I wanted to be at a school that also wanted me to be there, as represented by the financial aid they offered. Business school requires substantial financial investment. That’s not only in terms of tuition, but also the opportunity cost of employment income that could have been earned as opposed to going to business school. To that end, I applied to 27 scholarships and was fortunate to have received enough financial support from USC as well as private organizations that, when factoring in the years to payback and the return on investment, was a calculation that made sense to me.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? After graduating college, I boarded a one-way flight to the southern tip of South America, eager to connect with my Latino heritage by hitch-hiking through South America. There, I was humbled by the number of communities which I had not considered in my concept of South America. I had been blind to the colors of so many cultures. The purpose of my journey was altered dramatically. I endeavored to eschew the familiar path and cast myself into the spectrum of human existence. I sought to broaden my scope and welcome the insight which diverse cultural perspectives could offer. My path was met by curious glances as a stranger, alone, and far away from home. I was mugged, endured starvation, sickness, and beaten in a jail cell after police extortion.
But despite suffering, it was the compassion of strangers which inspired me to continue. There were countless nights spent at dinner tables and in beds offered by locals. I walked alongside the stories of the people I met. 10 months later, I reached the northernmost tip of the continent. I had spanned 15,808 miles – approximately 63% of Earth’s circumference. I am guided by this experience to become an example of a forward-thinking global business leader. I am one who can appreciate both our planet’s diversity and its connectivity. I am one who looks upon our greatest challenges with familiarity, and who finds purpose in the opportunity to create progress.
What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? Currently, the US accounts for 39% of total global healthcare expenditures. Yet its healthcare system is ranked 37th by the WHO. Healthcare costs are unaffordable, causing 60% of all bankruptcies in the US. There are a number of companies working towards a utopian vision for the future of healthcare. A future that is more effective and accessible for all. It is called personalized medicine, and it means treating patients according to their unique health profile, as opposed to samples of a much larger clinical population. It is being achieved through integrating advances in clinical methods and technology. This allows us to prevent illness, as opposed to treating it after it has already manifested. For example, advances in next generation sequencing allow us to identify biomarkers predictive of future illness. We can compile behavioral healthcare data through wearable technologies. Finally, we can use artificial intelligence to more accurately diagnose medical images. By treating illness before it begins, we can reduce healthcare costs and increase patient survival – creating a system that is more accessible and effective for all.
Picture yourself in two years graduating from business school. Looking back, how would you know your experience has been a success? I am eager to facilitate the creation of an applied innovation program at USC. It would be a program that connects Los Angeles’s vibrant business community with the talented minds and ground-breaking discoveries at USC. I believe that a university achieves impact through the relationships it cultivates with its local community, not by isolating itself in an ivory tower. By bringing together people, ideas, and resources, we can cultivate an “innovation district” in the heart of Los Angeles – creating a world-class entrepreneurship ecosystem. If I can help to build this program, and it endures after I graduate, I will have considered my experience a success.
DON’T MISS: MEET USC MARSHALL’S MBA CLASS OF 2022