2023 MBA To Watch: Matias Font, McGill University (Desautels)

Matias Font

McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management

“A fun-loving, human-centered person who enjoys learning from others and broadening opportunities for all.”

Hometown: Esperanza, Santa Fe, Argentina

Fun fact about yourself:  Before my MBA, I acted in an independent theatre group in Argentina in my spare time. I performed in two plays, with a leading role in one, and delivered three monologues. The sense of anticipation while waiting for the curtains to open, the joy and excitement of connecting with the audience, and the intense feeling of collaborative achievement during the cast team-hug as the curtain fell are memories that will be with me for the rest of my life.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Mechanical Engineering, Universidad Tecnológica Nacional, Argentina

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked as a Project Manager at S.A. Lito Gonella e Hijo, a leading regional metallurgical manufacturer in the oil and gas industry.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Bombardier, Montreal

Where will you be working after graduation? I am currently completing an internship at Novisto, an ESG tech startup based in Montreal. My long-term goal is to secure an impactful leadership role, one that considers the intersection of sustainability, strategy, and successful business practices; an example of this would be a sustainability consultant.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: During my studies, I was elected VP of External Relations of the Desautels Graduate Student Society (DGSS). In this role, I coordinated and collaborated with a local NGO, organized events with other universities, created new awareness and momentum for the importance of sustainable business practices, and helped my classmates advance their career prospects by introducing successful alumni on campus to share their experiences.

Last year, I was granted the Rio Tinto – Richard Evans Graduate Fellowship, in recognition of my leadership skills and academic performance prior to and during my McGill Desautels MBA. I am grateful to Rio Tinto for this accolade.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? At the moment, I am actively working with McGill Desautels members to expand sustainability considerations into the MBA program’s offerings. I hope that this will broaden students’ career perspectives. I believe further integrating this knowledge into the academic program will equip future leaders with the right tools to drive the necessary changes in their companies.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was being able to stop the hamster wheel when I was in a comfortable and promising stage in my engineering career and taking a step back to realize that I needed to pursue my dreams. It was not an easy choice, but taking the time to reflect on my inner values and corresponding career priorities bolstered my energies to pursue a career shift toward ESG strategy.

Why did you choose this business school? After speaking with alumni from different business schools, I realized that McGill University is a well-known brand worldwide and that the Desautels Faculty of Management offered smaller cohort sizes (60 – 80 students), which fosters a highly collaborative mindset among students. Therefore, I understood that McGill Desautels was the best fit for me and a place where I would be able to generate a higher impact.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? During my last semester, I had the pleasure of having Tatiana Lamoureux Gauvin as an instructor for Cross-Cultural Management. I particularly appreciated and benefited from her ability to connect empathetically with students, her deep understanding of the subject – being able to link topics to professional and personal life – and her well-structured class activities, which helped build bridges between undergrads and master students. I consider her one of the young faculty lecturers to watch.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? It was definitely Strategy in Context, taught by Elliot Lifson. The confluence of this case-based course merged with his incredible knowledge of the topics and the outstanding guest speakers made the course a highlight of the McGill Desautels curriculum. Additionally, he suggested the book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant, which has opened my eyes to how I behave and the relationships that I build.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The ski trip, for sure. As many of us had never skied before, we supported each other and laughed while learning this incredible sport. This experience reflects McGill Desautels´ community environment and mindset to encourage students to challenge themselves by going the extra mile. Additionally, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet people from our MBA and other Masters programs during an entire weekend.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I remember telling the new cohort, “Don’t do the things I’ve done.” I worked – part-time or full-time – for three out of four semesters during the program. In retrospect, I would not have worked some semesters to be able to invest more time in personal projects.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Initially, when I was thinking about doing an MBA, I had the impression that it was going to be a competitive and self-centred program. However, when I first investigated McGill, and especially once I arrived on campus, I found an incredible environment, where classmates and faculty were approachable and collaborative.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? I found Montreal to be one of the best cities in which to be a student. Its diversity, its cultural offerings, and its outstanding scenery and cityscapes forge Montreal’s unique identity. It is a major city where you can still breathe while walking around.

What surprised you the most about business school? Expanding on the collaborative mindset of the cohort I mentioned, I will go beyond to emphasize that candor and approachability are in clear evidence among the rest of the academic body as well. This culture of openness at McGill Desautels is embraced from its roots and grows among all the members of the community.

On a side note, the campus’s eye-catching architecture makes me feel part of a long-lasting legacy. It is like going 100 years back in time!

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I consider that demonstrating my alignment with McGill’s philosophy has been a turning point in the decision. In other words, being collaborative, knowledge-driven, and having a differentiation factor – acting – allowed me to join the Faculty of Management.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I think this is one of the toughest ones, as I have met many interesting people, and I will be biased in choosing one person that has similar values to me. Having said that, I admire Kriti Pradhan, as she has supported many of our classmates, having time for them even when it was scarce. From my perspective, she presents outstanding listening skills, adaptation to diverse working environments, and the forward-looking vision of a leader.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • To start a company with a strong social impact.
  • To leave footprints by helping others expanding their opportunities in the sustainability area.

What made Matias such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Matias impacted the Class of 2023 not just in what he did, but, and perhaps more importantly, in how he did it. Matias is an engaging, empathetic and committed leader who seeks to bring about positive change in a collaborative manner. In my dealings with him, I came to appreciate his approach of “checking in” to see how I, his coach, was doing before getting to the matter at hand. Then he would ask pointed questions that reflected thorough preparation, listening attentively to the input provided and making a reasoned decision on the most appropriate course of action. And, once he decided, he consistently acted and followed up.

A trained and experienced engineer, Matias is refocusing his career towards a leadership role in sustainability and strategy. And, true to form, he is well on his way. As the External Relations VP of the Desautels Graduate Student Society (DGSS), he initiated and organized events to boost awareness of sustainable business practices and provided valuable connections so that his classmates could join him on this journey. Knowing Matias, it should be a fun trip.

Zsolt Kekesi
McGill Desautels MBA Career Coach, Soutar Career Centre

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF MBAS TO WATCH IN 2023

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