Meet the MBA Class of 2023: José Vargas, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

José Vargas

Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business


Hometown: Barranquilla, Colombia

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I speak 5 languages fluently.

Undergraduate School and Major: Universidad de Los Andes, Computer Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: HUMAN Security (Previously known as White Ops),

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Carnegie Mellon’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The Tepper’s School compelling vision of wanting to be the business school of the future, at the intersection of business, technology and analytics, is what brought me here.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Carnegie Mellon? The Tepper School is a world-class business school, so I seek to learn everything I can about business. However, I am also extremely excited about being able to take classes at the Heinz School of Public Policy and the School of Computer Science. I want to learn as much as I can about business, technology and the intersection of both to find new professional avenues to explore that might be a bit more fulfilling.

The Tepper MBA is known for intensive one-on-one coaching and personal development. What area do you hope to strengthen during your two years in business school and why? I hope to strengthen my ability to make lots of decision under uncertain criteria and with limited data. I am best at decision making when I have all data available, and in business, this is not always possible. I seek to find ways to develop an ability to remain analytical but also action-oriented in the face of uncertainty.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’d consider my greatest professional accomplishment to be having be able to adapt myself to the US working environment, to the point where I’ve become successful and even gained admission to a prestigious school such as Tepper. Being successful in the US working world, as a middle-class Latino immigrant in the technology industry in particular, is not easy, and I feel I have managed to do so.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? It made me realize trying to predict the future and to find the perfect time to do something is futile. Anything could change at any time. Also, things that seem “impossible” (which was the case for certain companies with regards to remote work) in reality aren’t. Life is meant to be lived, and chances are meant to be taken. Everything could change at any point.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I have been working in the tech industry for 10 years in client-facing technical roles. I have a good technical background, but a limited knowledge of business. I also feel that my technical knowledge could be further fleshed out. I wanted to go to an MBA program that would help me accomplish both – Tepper fit the bill perfectly. My hope is to work in Product Management or Tech Operations after my MBA. I seek to stay in tech, albeit preferably in FinTech, with Cybersecurity, Health-Tech and Infrastructure Software as other options.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to the NYU Tech MBA, the Cornell Tech MBA, the Kellogg MMM program, MIT LGO and the Wharton FT and Executive MBA programs

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Carnegie Mellon’s MBA program? Articulate very clearly what about CMU and Tepper is attractive to you. The more compelling your story is, the higher your chances of admissions will be. Tepper wants to know you’re passionate about the school and its academic offerings!


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