Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Gonzalo Roque, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Gonzalo Roque

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

Optimism in a bottle; always looking to try something new.”

Hometown: Houston, TX; Mexico City, Mexico

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have gone swimming with wild sharks (during the day and night!)

Undergraduate School and Major: Texas A&M University; Industrial Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Bain and Company; Consultant

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? A big deal for me was how inclusive I felt that the Kellogg community would be for my significant other (referred to as a “JV” at Kellogg). Given all of the sacrifices she was making for me to attend school, it was very important to me that she feels welcome and included. From the start, Kellogg really shined in this way– they sent her a letter in my admittance packet, had specific JV programming at “Day at Kellogg” (admit day), and she’s welcome to sit in on classes and join clubs as she wishes. Her being involved and included in the community has made the transition much easier and pleasant for both of us.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Diverse. During my first month on campus, I have met students from a variety of backgrounds – personally and professionally. I have classmates who have worked at large corporations, start-ups, non-profits, and government organizations. They have played on sports teams or were in the military. It has been super interesting to hear about other people’s experiences in different industries and roles, both in and out of the classroom. Creating connections with peers from the other side of the world has been a really fun experience that will lead to tremendous personal growth.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? Kellogg has a ton of student interest clubs (sports, social impact, etc.), which I’m excited to be a part! I have many different hobbies and have found that Kellogg has a club for almost all of them, which is a great way to meet people with similar interests and develop deeper relationships with a wide range of classmates.

Academically, I’m really interested in “corporate entrepreneurship” … basically helping large, market-leading companies think the way disruptors and innovators do. Kellogg has a few courses in this space, which I think will be very helpful in my work both in consulting and in different industries later down the road.

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?  I really value when team members actively listen and are open minded. I feel like the team gets to a much better solution when there is plentiful discussion, and everyone is able to build upon other’s ideas (or challenge them when appropriate). In the classroom, I hope to internalize my classmates’ points during discussions and build upon (or debate) those points, rather than interjecting with a separate “pre-scripted” contribution.

Outside of the classroom, it will mean asking meaningful follow up questions during conversations, making sure my peers feel heard and understood.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At Bain, I worked on a growth strategy project to help a well-known tech company grow their user base and identify a path to triple their revenue. I played a major role in the case, identifying which user groups the client should target, and how – which was both interesting and very challenging. On top of that, I had a really strong relationship with my direct report (and the rest of the Bain and client team), and got an opportunity to sit at the table with the client’s top leaders on multiple occasions. It was a very rewarding experience that led to a big promotion, just a few months after it felt like things weren’t going my way.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I think of this as a two-part answer – why not sooner and why not later. For me, it was important to feel like I had enough business experience to 1) be able to really contribute and get a lot out of the classroom and 2) have a clearer idea of what I wanted to do long term. Spending four years at Bain prior to Kellogg provided me with a lot of exposure to various aspects of business, which made me feel ready to take the leap. As for “why not later,” I felt that I was approaching a point in my career where I needed to specialize in an area of expertise. I see business school as a great way to explore different avenues that I am interested in and close a few gaps in my “generalist” skillset prior to honing in on specific areas of expertise.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard, Stanford, MIT

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “What do you specifically bring to the school / Kellogg community?” Of course, there are some surface level answers here that come to mind for most people such as strong problem-solving and good teamwork skills. However, I found that it took further self-reflection to understand what unique strengths I could bring to Kellogg. For me, that was a strong “believe in the possible” attitude, and an ability to foster harmony in my communities. It took some time for me to identify these specific traits. Once I did, it helped to really shape my story not only for my applications, but also for how to approach my time at Kellogg.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I valued professional and cultural fit. Professional fit was easily deciphered as I was able to use employment reports to validate post-MBA opportunities. I used LinkedIn to see if alumni from each school were working at the companies that I was most interested. For cultural fit, the most important aspect was a friendly, humble, and down-to-earth student body.

At the end of the day, all top business schools have extremely talented students and I think it is the “soft” factors that can really shape the short- and long-term experience. I found that attending info sessions and talking to current students and alumni were helpful tools in getting a feel for these dimensions. By far, the most helpful tool was when I visited the schools I was admitted to and was able to soak in the environment for myself. I pretty quickly got a sense for whether the school was a good fit for me or not

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Moving from Mexico to the United States when I was 10. It completely changed my life in that it opened a lot of personal, academic, and professional doors that otherwise may have not been available to me (including business school). I also had to learn to be very comfortable in my own skin, as I’ve always been at least a bit different from most of my classmates and friends because of my background. That has been very helpful through the business school process. I’ll forever be grateful to my parents for the sacrifices they made to move our family to the US.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I think Starbucks is a pretty neat company. They do an excellent job of investing in professional and personal development for all of their employees – from the corporate leaders down to the baristas at your local shop. I admire companies who invest in their people, and am a big believer that this pays a lot of dividends for the individuals and the companies themselves.


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