2023 MBA To Watch: Pablo Valdés Fernández Del Valle, Cambridge Judge Business School

Pablo Valdés Fernández Del Valle

Cambridge Judge Business School

“Structured, practical, passionate, teamwork, responsible, meticulous, dedicated, committed, leadership, positive, proactive, intense, multiple sports.”

Hometown Mexico City, Mexico

Fun fact about yourself: I wanted to be a professional golfer when I was a teenager. As I matured a little bit more, I wanted to be either an architect or a lawyer, and I ended up being none of those things.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Undergraduate Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, class of 2015, at the Universidad Iberoamericana, in Mexico City. I graduated with Academic Excellence recognition (highest honour from Universidad Iberoamericana – Selected 1 out of 250 students). Graduated with “Ph.D. Agustín Reyes Ponce” recognition (highest honour from Universidad Iberoamericana – Selected 1 out of 250 students). Graduated with Honourable Mention (selected 6 out of 250 students).

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? (List Company and Role): BBVA Mexico, based in Mexico City. Investment Banking and Finance – Portfolio Monitoring Associate.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? I have not decided entirely. I would be interested in a Venture Capital firm based in Japan, or Wealth Management based either in Switzerland, Italy, or London.

Where will you be working after graduation? I would like to try private banking (Wealth Management) in JPMorgan or Credit Suisse. In the long term, I would like to establish my own private equity fund for sustainable real estate (residential high-end housing in Mexico). Before making this transition, however, I will likely work for CEMEX, to understand more about construction materials – CEMEX is a Mexican company, and one of the largest cement and concrete producers in the world.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: The leadership roles we all have taken within the Business School have been numerous. I am driven by the desire to pursue excellence in everything I do, and offer more in whatever role I am in. I am also motivated by continuous learning, through collaboration sharing, and teamwork; learning from each other on a daily basis, and showing insatiable curiosity. It has been thrilling to build an encompassing vision and perspective alongside my peers, with solutions that are relevant for the real world. It has been also very exciting to build a network with highly intellectual students, while sharing with them the passion, enthusiasm, and constant exchange of ideas. This has been the most enriching, transformative, and vibrant experience; it is something I will definitely cherish and remember for the rest of my life.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I have been playing during the year in the Cambridge University Golf Club (CUGC) within the Blues Team. The season started in September 2022, and it will end in the second to last week of March 2023, when we will play against Oxford for the Varsity Match in the oldest amateur championship in the world. I am hoping to be part of the selected team. It has been such a great experience to play for this wonderful team, a true honour and privilege, with the camaraderie and union that goes with it. We have created affectionate bonds, and relationships that we will cherish forever. Further, we have played some of the best golf courses in the UK, many of them over hard conditions, and we have met very interesting people as Cambridge University club members.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While working at BBVA Mexico, within the Investment Banking and Corporate Finance Team, I had several endeavours. The one that stands out is the debt restructuring of Muralla IV, one of Grupo R ultra-deep oil rigs, when they suffered an aggressive negotiation from PEMEX, the Mexican state-owned oil company. As the PEMEX income reduced significantly due to the fall in petrol prices, they were forced to cut down their lease daily rates with third parties, including Grupo R. Their entire Project Finance senior debt at BBVA had to be restructured to smaller payments within the amortization calendar, while expanding the maturity date for two years.

We coordinated with external legal counsel, financial advisors, and more than 12 international banks – among them some harder sells such as the Korean Development Banks. We also worked internally with BBVA’s in-house legal counsel, as well as BBVA’s risk management areas in Madrid, in order to get this request duly authorised. This was a highly complex and delicate situation, since Oro Negro (similar company as Grupo R) had just declared insolvency due to a similar situation with PEMEX, and oil-related matters were tense. It was essential we avoid a cross default between the Project Finance and the bonds. I worked under high pressure to get BBVA’s approval within the hard-stop deadline, navigating through the highly complex legal scheme to produce a gargantuan document with all the technical, finance, and administrative analysis that would justify the restructure. I spent several weeks consulting external tax, legal, and finance advisors, and relaying the panorama to BBVA’s risk assessment headquarters in Madrid, resulting in a solution that was, without a doubt, extremely successful.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Cambridge because it is highly international, diverse, and collaborative. The MBA programme is challenging and exceptionally intellectual; moreover, it is adaptable with the elective subjects through the Lent and Easter Terms. It offers relatively small classes, with personalised and intimate settings. I was also attracted by the Cambridge Venture Project and Global Consulting Project, which allow students to work for companies in different industries and geographies. To me, it was certainly a dream to be a part of one of the world’s most prestigious research universities, and to be surrounded by its famous colleges.

What was your favourite course as an MBA? (Choose one course and explain why): My favourite courses on the Cambridge MBA were Corporate Finance, Cases in Corporate Finance, and New Venture Finance. I felt so motivated, encouraged, and heartened to exchange ideas with my MBA cohort from different backgrounds; it was very enriching and illustrating to do this with people who are enthusiastic, who are talented, passionate, and highly motivated individuals.

What was your favourite MBA event or tradition at your business school? In my opinion, College Formals are one of the most valuable traditions. It is a great way to interact with other students, faculty members, professors, and even Fellows. I really enjoyed having dinner and drinks within the fantastic colleges, surrounded by the history that these entail, and exchanging experiences, anecdotes, ventures, and endeavours with highly intellectual and motivated individuals. These conversations were so enriching.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I were to do something different in my MBA experience, I would engage more with previous year students. They have already been through everything we are experiencing and, therefore, they can offer valuable insights, tips, suggestions, and experiences.

What is the biggest myth about your school? (and how was it the same or different from what you experienced): I had heard and read about the Cambridge MBA programme at the Judge Business School being highly international. However, experiencing it was a whole different experience. I was amazed about the fact that our year’s cohort of 209 students was represented by 47 nationalities.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Being UK-based, Cambridge Judge Business School offers a close connection with London, which is one of the financial capitals in the world. Therefore, you get the dynamic of the Capital City of London, and the exposure to Cambridge, as one of the most advanced innovative hubs in Europe. The City of Cambridge has lots of green spaces, historic architecture, and a vibrant social scene. It is a welcoming challenge to experience the highest academic standards, while seeking for excellence through the highly respected faculty members, professors, and guest speakers.

Cambridge also offers invaluable culture, traditions, and values, which I will replicate during the rest of my life with the utmost pride and honour.

What surprised you the most about business school? The thing that surprised me the most about Cambridge Judge Business School was the building. I have seen it in pictures and videos before, but the architecture in real life is fantastic. I really like the modern and colourful design; I also think its inside structure foments engagement, teamwork, collaboration, and imagination, all important virtues for the students. Moving accurately within the building by the multiple stairs is something that I have not fully mastered.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Being transparent, true, and honest about everything I tried to communicate. I feel like sometimes applicants try to exaggerate things or experiences to bring more attention. However, we are so different from one another, that the only thing we need to focus on is being ourselves throughout the process. Speaking about the application process, it was an arduous and challenging test. At the end, we need to trust the fact that the University will choose you if you are a good match for it, and vice versa.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire the most within the MBA cohort is Philip Winter. He co-founded Nebia, a startup which develops and sells technological showers that save up to 70% of the water used in a typical shower, while enhancing the user with a great experience altogether. This is such a powerful idea, as it is so important to address water consumption and savings. This is being developed at a time when the worldwide population continues to grow – with the increase in water consumption that this implies. Even more, it is happening when global warming has derived into extreme weather phenomena such as droughts. We became great friends from the beginning of the MBA year. However, our friendship only got better over time, playing golf together every weekend for the Cambridge University Golf Club (CUGC), within the Blues Team, and working together in our GCP Project for a Japanese venture capital firm. We experienced some amazing ventures together, both inside the MBA programm, and within the golf team. He is a great friend to have around, and a relationship that I am grateful to have.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would like to try private banking (Wealth Management) in JPMorgan or Credit Suisse in the short term. In the long term, I would like to establish my own private equity fund for sustainable real estate in Mexico. The fund will complement the development of residential housing along the scenic Mexican coastline – including golf courses – with affordable, dignified, easy-to-replicate housing for low-income groups. Each complex will be integrated harmoniously into their environment, by implementing techniques of biomass energy, water catchment, and household waste reuse. Before establishing my own private equity fund, however, I will likely work for CEMEX, to understand more about construction materials.

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

“It was such a privilege to have Pablo in my class – he was knowledgeable, thoughtful, and ever willing to help others who had less experience in the subject than he had. I am sure he will have a very promising career before him. Put differently, his expected Net Present Value is high!”

Gishan Dissanaike
Adam Smith Professor of Corporate Governance and Acting Chair of the Faculty Board
Cambridge Judge Business School


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