Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Rodrigo Rodriguez Delgado, Washington University (Olin)

Rodrigo Rodriguez Delgado

Washington University in St Louis, Olin Business School

Entrepreneur, musician and cook with a passion for innovation, growth and social impact.”

Hometown: Barquisimeto, Venezuela

Fun Fact About Yourself: In addition to my BBA, I also hold a degree in Gastronomy. So yes, I love to cook. My wife and I run a little company selling prepared, vacuum-sealed food and use part of the profits to give meals to people living on the streets of Mexico City.

Undergraduate School and Major: Universidad Central de Venezuela, Bachelor of Business Administration

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Linio Group, Assortment and Merchandising Regional Manager

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? For me, there were three pillars that made me choose Washington University:

  1. Entrepreneurial Mindset – To me, innovation is key to success. It doesn’t matter if you work in a company or you are a founder, you need to have the ability to push forward, to look ahead and understand the impact any action or project can have in an organization.
  2. Corporate Associations – I have a clear goal of becoming an entrepreneur and venture capitalist in the tech sector in Latin America in the next 10 years. The connections Olin can give me regarding tech and startups are incredible. In the same way, I have the chance to learn from industries that are quite interesting, and I have not had the chance to relate to them yet.
  3. Sense of Family and Community – Since day one, the WashU Olin team made me feel like I was part of a big family. Admissions got the chance to know my wife as well, and she had the same feeling I had. We wanted to be a part of this community where support is a key factor. In the same way, I talked to people from every MBA school I applied for—and without a doubt, WashU Olin students were the most supportive, always looking to help in any way they can.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Collaborative. Even with the current situation we are going through—a global pandemic, difficulties in the visa issuance processes and the uncertainty of what is next—every classmate I’ve connected with is just happy to be part of the program and looking forward to it. We are all looking for a way to help each other, either in creating a new project or just talk about what is going on.

I have already discussed a couple of ideas to carry into school to create an impact—and my classmates have been super supportive and excited to be part of it.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I think the Center for Experiential Learning is one of the activities I am looking forward to the most. The chance to work with different companies in the community and help them tackle a variety of problems is great opportunity for an MBA student. It gives you the chance to put your knowledge into practice facing real situations.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I developed a company from scratch and with no funds, designing the business model and the overall marketing, commercial, and operations strategy. I leveraged what most people saw as difficult-to-create growth and focused our efforts on propelling social impact projects within Venezuela to make a real impact in people’s lives.

After a few months, and thanks to what we were doing in our little company, the biggest company in Venezuela reached out to me and offered me the direction of a new venture within the firm focused on creating a positive impact for their workforce. A year after that, one of our former clients called me to offer me the innovation director position in his startup in Mexico City.

It was quite an adventure.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I have a very clear goal of becoming the CEO of my own tech startup in Latin America, and to achieve it I need to become a well-rounded and innovative leader.  At Datanalisis, I learned to connect the dots and understand my environment to take advantage of it. While there, I became an entrepreneur, learning how to develop an idea—with no funds and from the ground up—focusing on social initiatives and helping them grow. At Motivapp, I learned to design and grow a business model, adding value within an already-established company that was improving the well-being of their employees while generating revenue. At Kmimos, I learned to innovate and connect with other entrepreneurs to achieve amazing results. And finally at Linio, I learned to manage multicultural teams and take data driven decisions.

An MBA will challenge me to expand my business and world view while immersing me in a critical reasoning and an innovative environment. It will allow me to learn how to make innovative strategic decisions through data and give me global perspective. It will provide me with so much more than learning in classrooms and clubs. An MBA, and particularly one at WashU Olin, offers the leadership opportunities that will give me the capability to lead a disruptive tech company in Latin America in the near future.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “Tell me about a global trend that will impact how your company or industry conducts business.”

It was a great question, and one I often ask myself. It was not that challenging because it’s part of my job to analyse trends, predict what will happen in the future, and assess how it will impact my business. However, I was not prepared for this kind of question. I was expecting more behavioural-focused questions, and this knocked me out for a few seconds.

One thing I can tell you, my answer was not a global pandemic.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I did very thorough research of each program that aligned with my goals.

Entrepreneurial mindset, corporate associations, rankings, and school size were the main factors I considered to narrow down my alternatives. Then, I visited the different schools’ websites to get to know them a little further. Finally, I talked to current students and alumni—and that particular step sealed the deal with WashU Olin.

What was your defining moment, and how did it prepare you for business school? When I was 10 years old, my father died of a heart attack. Since he was the main source of income for my family, financial stability no longer existed. At the same time, it was the start of Venezuela’s economic crisis that continues today with unimaginable inflation rates and wages that didn’t allow us to afford the basic needs to survive.

This led me to make one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, focus on my professional career instead of my studies. This was the only way that I could produce enough income so my mom and I could live another day. I knew the knowledge and experience I gained through work would make me a well-known professional and allow me to be part of companies and in roles that no one else at my age would have.

My predictions became true; I ended up working in outstanding positions at incredible companies in Venezuela. I became an entrepreneur and made an impact, made amazing connections, got an offer to move to Mexico and more.

That is what business school prepares you for, to create a strategy and go for it, to make difficult decisions—not only for the short term, but decisions that have an impact in the long run.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? Google. From day one, they have been looking to make an impact in the world using innovation as their weapon, crafting new products that make peoples live easier. Even when it seems that something isn’t going to be profitable, Google does it for the good of doing it.

And the most important thing is always shoot for the stars. Innovation is about getting a lot of things wrong and learning from those mistakes until you can fulfill a need with your ideas. Keep betting on projects that seem unreachable, just know that with the right people, the right experience and the right motivation, everything is possible.



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