Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Carlos Cardenas Baldwin, University of Toronto (Rotman)

Carlos Cardenas Baldwin

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

There are two types of people, those that dream and never wake up and those that wake up to make their dreams come true; I am the latter.”

Hometown: Lima, Peru

Fun Fact About Yourself: I consider myself a truly global citizen, not only do I enjoy visiting new places (I have been to over 15 countries in total) but I am passionate about living and experiencing new places and cultures.  Throughout my life, I have lived in Peru (Talara, Lima), Norway (Stavanger), Scotland (Aberdeen), USA (Austin, Durham, Bakersfield, Minot, Houston, New York City) and Italy (Florence).  I cannot wait to add Toronto to my list.  On a side note, I have visited 5 of the 7 wonders of the world: Chichen Itza, Rome Coliseum, Machu Pichu, Taj Mahal and Cristo Redentor.  I have plans on knocking out the remaining 2 in the next 5 years.

Undergraduate School and Major:

The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering

Duke University with a Master in Engineering Management

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:

Pluspetrol Corporation- Operations Planning and Performance Manager

Syn Entertainment- General Manager and Co-Founder

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? As I applied for MBA programs, Rotman School of Management was always my top choice.  I chose the Rotman MBA mainly because of 3 factors:

1) An incredibly talented cohort providing me with a strong international alumni network that I am sure will last a lifetime.

2) Experiential learning showcasing two of Rotman’s approaches in forming future business leaders: integrative thinking and business design.  Success in business requires us to adapt to constant change, especially in today’s context.  This approach encourages us to apply models that go beyond functional areas commonly seen in organizations, in order to improve our ability to tackle complex problems seen in today’s industry.

3) Rotman’s innovative curriculum that includes the one-in-a-kind Self Development Lab, a feedback-based program that includes activities aimed at developing and progressing our communicative and interpersonal skills that are so crucial and relevant in today’s business world.

What club or activity excites you most at this school?

Rotman Energy and Natural Resources Association: My goal post-MBA is to continue working in the energy industry and actively participate in the energy matrix transition we are currently witnessing, as fossil fuels will start its natural decline allowing for alternative sources of energy to supply global demand.

Entertainment and Media Association: Given my recent experience working in movie production, I seek to connect and network with working professionals in Canada.  One of my personal goals is to continue growing my company, Syn Entertainment, and add value to the Peruvian film industry.

Rotman Latin American Business Club: I am very fond of my Peruvian background and want to create strong ties with fellow Latin classmates.  Moreover, I want to give back to the Latin American community in Toronto with my experiences, knowledge and expertise.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I consider myself as a versatile professional, both as a manager in the energy industry as well as an entrepreneur in the film industry.  I am very proud of my career track in energy, having had the opportunity to work for leading independent energy companies and tasked with very fulfilling roles that include being the operations engineer accountable for an oilfield in North Dakota as well as leading the consolidation of the strategic long term plans for the most important energy development in Peru.

These accomplishments, however, fall short when compared to my first movie production as I embarked my executive producer career. I came across an up-and-coming film director in Peru who had the idea of depicting a profoundly historical event that marked Peru’s 1990 political scene; the corruption scandal that let to former President Alberto Fujimori’s resignation. I became passionate about the opportunity to educate both the younger and older generations of my country regarding political corruption and its roots in the 1990s. This project was complicated to say the least, but the movie “Caiga quien Caiga” was applauded nationwide, even the current President of Peru, commended our effort in a CNN report and encouraged all Peruvians to see it. This movie success far exceeded my expectations both professionally and personally. What an incredible accomplishment to participate in a project that was applauded by an entire nation and impacted over 390,000 people who watched it in the movie theaters!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?  It has always been a personal goal of mine to pursue an MBA.  However, I was aware that I needed strong progressive career growth and interesting work experience. In 2017 I founded my own movie production and distribution company, Syn Entertainment, and this experience gave me that start up exposure.  During this time period between 2017-2020, in which I was juggling a full time Manager position at Pluspetrol and a General Management Role in Syn Entertainment, I decided it was time to get the formal education and solidify my gains as a leader today and enhance my skill set with a first rate business education. The MBA will provide me with the tools as to make the transition into strategic defining positions in the energy industry, as well as continue growing Syn Entertainment and position us as one of the top movie production companies in Peru.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?

Duke Fuqua

Harvard Business School

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Where do you see yourself in 5 and 10 years? This question really makes me dig deep within my past, my experiences and most importantly my dreams. It’s very hard to really capture one’s ambitions and desires within a 5- or 10-year plan, but I do know that I want to continue in the energy industry. Having had the experience of working in several countries, I have realized that energy is crucial for our development and sustainability as a society. I want to continue adding value to the world’s energy needs and partake in such a crucial time in our transitioning energy matrix. Oil and gas are finite, for which alternative sources of energy must start supplying increasing demand, and I want to be at the forefront of this energy transition.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? In order to determine the ideal fit for me, I researched websites, participated in MBA fairs and did personal networking. However, talking to alumni was the best feedback for each one of the programs I applied to. Alumni could provide me with the insights on the school’s culture, class dynamics, and career recruiting.  In the end, I prioritized 3 factors:

1) The international diversity of the MBA class at Rotman. More than half consists of international students coming from countries all over the world. For me, this is crucial in today’s business world, as we are more connected that ever, regardless of country, culture and religion.

2) Job opportunities post-MBA as the Rotman program offers a 3-year work permit post-graduation.  This work permit perk combined with the strength of the Canadian energy industry made it a great choice for me.

3) Finally, I must add that having a premiere business school located in the heart of downtown Toronto, a major financial hub, further assured my selection.  The close ties the school has with leading industries and organizations in Canada allowing us with invaluable networking opportunities.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? As I was reaching my 5-year work experience in the US, I took the bold decision to move back to my home country and work on the energy needs of Peru. I joined Pluspetrol, specifically the Camisea Asset, one of the most important gas fields in Latin America. This natural gas field includes a context of social responsibility and environmental sensitivity as it operates in a protected rainforest with no roads or highways connecting it to any urban areas. I am proud to say that I belonged to a project with a profound impact on Peru’s energy context, a project that is transforming how Peruvians consume energy. It is an understatement that our country depends on Camisea to continue our path to becoming a developed country. Over these past years, working in such a transcendental asset, gave me that Aha moment I required to know that I want to participate in the energy matrix transition in a larger more global scale.  Moving back to Peru was a defining moment in my life and prepared me to take on the MBA challenge today.

What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer and why is that so important? The single most important attribute that I seek in an MBA employer is company culture.  I define this term as how comfortable I feel with the people who work for that company and how they integrate all the employees as a unified team and even a family.  I am passionate about creating connections with people, and not just at the workplace but also at a personal level. A company culture that promotes integration across company functions, professional development and accountability with decision making will be critical key points I will consider in future MBA employers.


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