Matthew J. Archuleta
“A family man with a desire for public service and chocolate chip cookies.”
Hometown: Pico Rivera, CA
Fun Fact About Yourself: I raced in the Baja 1000 in 2017
Undergraduate School and Major: United States Military Academy at West Point
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Army, Special Forces Green Beret
The Yale School of Management is regarded as a purpose-driven program. What is your mission? How will your MBA at Yale SOM help you fulfill that mission? I grew up in Los Angeles, epicenter of the national homeless crisis, where I saw the American dream fade for countless veterans. Witnessing this dynamic first-hand, I understand my soldiers might one day face this heartbreaking reality. I made a promise to bring my soldiers home from combat and want to help ensure all veterans finally get home. I believe that a career in real estate development is the first step to making a difference. Understanding land acquisition and local governing policies will give me the best understanding of combining economic opportunity with social impact. My background as a Special Forces Green Beret and Latino from a low-income, minority community has given me the perspective and passion to address the critical shortage of veterans’ housing. I intend to leverage my experience and the Yale School of Management MBA to create affordable housing for homeless veterans.
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? The General Management curriculum combined with the school’s mission is central to me. At this point in my career, I need to challenge myself to be comfortable with all aspects of business. As a career switcher, I cannot focus my education in a field so heavily that it overshadows my years of experience in another industry. I believe an MBA program should be a life laboratory; I need to fail here so I do not make the same mistakes afterward. I want to maximize my experience with the boundless academic opportunities found at Yale because I am the leader for business and society.
What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? My classmates can best be described as multifaceted. It’s incredibly humbling to be surrounded by such intelligent people that are talented in so many areas.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? I’m extremely excited to be a spectator at any and all college sports. I’m especially excited to watch intramural hockey since I’m told it gets pretty wild.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In 2018-2019, my commander assigned me as the Casualty Assistance Officer for the family of a fellow Green Beret killed in action. My role included helping the family through Army survivorship appointments and planning funeral events that included senior civilian and military officials. For over six months, I grieved internally as I hugged his distraught widow, yelled internally as his father screamed out at a war we are ending. When I finally got home each night, I cried alone before joining my pregnant wife in the living room. Being able to support the fallen Green Beret’s family is my greatest accomplishment – I pray I made their grieving process easier.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? In 2018, I commanded a Special Operations mission to train Niger’s elite counterterrorism strike force to fight the terrorist organization Boko Haram. I also coordinated the U.S. government’s far-reaching effort to assist internally displaced persons across the war-torn region. Without shelter, these villagers had no plausible path toward societal reintegration. I eventually drew parallels between the public ostracism of these displaced persons and homeless U.S. veterans. While their stories are different, the solution requires the same compassion, resources, and public-private partnership to eliminate the stigma.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? I think I underestimated myself, so I applied to seven other programs: Haas, Darden, Fuqua, Kenan-Flagler, UCLA, Wharton, HBS.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I received an interview invite and had a very short window to make it work between interviews. I called to ask about scheduling options and was asked, “Are you planning to be on campus for the interview?” This seemingly standard question forced me to rearrange my entire schedule, burdening my wife even more, and straining finances. This question was the most challenging because I had not had an opportunity to visit the school at all. I know how important it was to show the school your interest, so I knew when they posed that question, I had to make it work.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? Through the West Point and Special Operations communities, I was able to tap into a vast network of current and former MBA students. It was through a work colleague that I was introduced to The Consortium. As a Latino, I was attracted to programs that were interested in expanding their diversity. I used the employment reports to determine which schools would provide the strongest network for real estate.
Once I narrowed down my list, I reached out to the veteran and Consortium networks to have conversations with current students. This allowed me to examine the culture of the school from likeminded students. I was lucky enough to be able to visit every school I applied to (my last trip was late February) and being able to sit in on a class at each school gave me a great glimpse into the culture of the program. My experience meeting Consortium Fellows inspired me to apply to be a Consortium Fellow, Toigo Fellow, and LunaCap Fellow. All three incredible fellowships revolve around supporting minority business students succeed in their careers.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? My defining moment was the day I decided to attend West Point. On my college tours at UCLA and Notre Dame, I experienced the engaging social scene; at West Point they sent me out into a tent in the cold. Despite the vastly different experiences, I saw how West Point made leaders, and I knew that it would mold me into a better person. It’s very hard for an 18-year-old to turn down the freedom of the standard college experience, but I believe that defining moment led me into pursuing a life of service and achievement for the sake of a team. The academic rigor and strict discipline at the academy showed me what I was capable of and prepared me for the sacrifices needed to leave the only career I’ve ever known to chart a new path. That experience gives me the confidence to know I will not only succeed, but lead.
What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I’ve really enjoyed learning about a company called, Factory OS. It’s a construction company creating multifamily modular buildings that will revolutionize the American homebuilding industry and can solve the affordable housing crisis. This company’s “assembly line” approach optimizes the manufacturing of homes to minimize cost. I think business students can use their talent and acumen to shape business to create change. Yale will help me to connect with a network of people that also believe in the importance of addressing social issues through the private sector. I believe that it takes a village to accomplish major change and I believe that the heart of the Yale SOM village is without compare. I hope every aspiring MBA candidate can find a business and school to inspire them.
What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer? Mentorship. That was the quality I felt was the most lacking for minority officers in the Army. I want to find those leaders who will take the time to help me succeed so that I can be that person for the next employee. That is why I found it so important to join organizations like Consortium, Toigo, and LunaCap Foundations, because they are committed to our success even before we re-enter the workforce.
DON’T MISS: MEET YALE SOM’S MBA CLASS OF 2022