Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Felipe J. Cuartas, Washington University (Olin)

Felipe J. Cuartas

Washington University in St Louis, Olin Business School

“Felipe works to ensure basic resources for every American and will increase impact through technology.”

Hometown: Marion, Illinois

Fun Fact About Yourself: I once wrote a philosophy paper analyzing an argument that time isn’t real.

Undergraduate School and Major: Washington University in St. Louis, Finance; second major in Philosophy

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Account Executive, Gallagher

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?: I chose WashU Olin Business School because they integrate the school’s core values—emphasizing the bigger purpose we can have on the world-into classes that give us the exact skillset to attack tomorrow’s business and technology problems.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Collaborative—I almost chose diverse, but what I really love isn’t just the many different perspectives I’m getting about global events and business. It is the willingness to share and be vulnerable, telling stories that really help bring our lectures to life.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? It is Olin Women in Business (OWIB) because of the important work the group does to empower women! We do this by promoting gender equity in business leadership and supporting our community to increase opportunities for all women, including the marginalized. I’m looking forward to upcoming projects to progress this work.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I thought of a new way to build prospective clients lists, which was a very manual process for our 4,000-person global sales team. My new approach led to around 480,000 hours being saved per year across our organization after my idea was expanded worldwide from my office.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? My passion for securing basic resources for the marginalized in America and also for technology. I had strong feelings about wanting to explore ways to combine these two interests in ways where I could have more meaningful impact, and an MBA provides me with two years to learn strategies to do just that.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Tell us about a time when you had to tell a client or manager they were wrong.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? A strong culture is the single most important aspect of a school—I worked hard to understand and evaluate a school’s fit with my values. A beautiful campus (Wash U is easily one of the most beautiful) or how many publications faculty have under their belts are obviously important factors. However, a cultural fit is critical for a good experience. To find out about culture, I would start by reading the school’s websites about their mission. More importantly I would read news and find examples of how that mission was being deployed in their curriculum and through their contribution to the community. If I felt they were both strong, I talked to as many students and faculty as possible to understand if they embodied that energy of succeeding and brought the marginalized of the world along with them. WashU was and is exemplary, so it was exciting to have a second chance to study there.

What was your defining moment, and how did it prepare you for business school?  I do a lot of my reflection, or meditation, in the shower. About two years ago I was trying to articulate the essence of my purpose, what I am really trying to achieve with my life. Unsurprisingly, I was thinking about this in the shower. My defining moment was when I concluded that I could pursue a successful career in business but that my ultimate life goal could still be to work to ensure basic resources for every American. If I feel like I’m taking steps to have an impact on that mission, then I feel that I’m fulfilling my purpose. This realization helped me create a plan, and business school is an integral step.

What is your favorite company, and what could business students learn from them? My favorite company is any technology company that considers it a top priority to use their innovation for good. I think there are plenty of examples like Microsoft’s AI for Good that uses their AI innovation to have an impact on social causes ranging from things like clean energy to world hunger. Google’s also benefits many great causes like helping reform criminal justice and minimizing bias. What we can learn from these companies is that you can make a lot of money and build a great business WHILE you also are sincerely committed to making the world better. And, I would argue, benefitting all stakeholders is actually a competitive advantage.


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