Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Ruben Antonio Quesada, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Ruben Antonio Quesada

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“Enthusiastic and stubborn optimist who is passionate about climate solutions and positive impact.”

Hometown: San Jose, Costa Rica

Fun Fact About Yourself: The architecture profession is in my blood; my father, brother and I all worked in architecture.

Undergraduate School and Major: Auburn University – Bachelor of Architecture

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Associate / Project Architect at ZGF Architects

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Carnegie Mellon’s MBA curriculum and programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Carnegie Mellon’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship immediately caught my attention while researching graduate programs. With a background in architecture and a strong focus on sustainability, I am deeply aware of the pressing need to challenge traditional construction practices and products to reduce their carbon footprint. As the built environment accounts for a significant percentage of global emissions, it becomes increasingly crucial to confront these challenges, especially as we approach the critical threshold set by the Paris Climate Agreement.

Recognizing that innovative business models and new carbon storing materials are vital in the fight against climate change, I firmly believe that the business sector plays a pivotal role in driving meaningful change. Whether taking on the challenge as an entrepreneur or supporting investments in this sector, it is a daunting task that requires collective efforts.

The Swartz Center’s reputation as a think tank for entrepreneurs, dedicated to testing ideas, and fostering innovative businesses, greatly appealed to me as a prospective MBA candidate. Carnegie Mellon offers a platform to merge my passion for sustainability with the business expertise necessary to make a significant impact in addressing the climate crisis. With the university’s vast resources and the support of like-minded individuals, I am excited about the opportunity and plan to contribute to a more sustainable future.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Carnegie Mellon? I am most excited about joining two clubs at Carnegie Mellon: the Graduate Entrepreneurship Club and the Energy and Clean Tech Club. These clubs align with my purpose as an MBA student, offering opportunities to explore sustainable innovation, entrepreneurship, and cutting-edge technologies in addressing environmental challenges. My hope is to combine both as I see plenty of potential intersections between the two.

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 am eager to strengthen my understanding of finance and macroeconomic trends while at Tepper. As a project architect for the past nine years, I have a lot of experience in team management, client interactions, and project execution. Now, I seek to broaden my expertise beyond the specifics of individual projects. By gaining deeper insights into finance, entrepreneurship, and economics, I aim to become more influential and strategically minded. This will enable me to make informed decisions and identify better business opportunities. I believe this broader perspective will empower me to have a more significant impact on the built environment and address environmental challenges on a larger scale.

The Tepper MBA is also known for being highly data-driven. Why does the program’s focus on quantitative analysis and decision-making appeal to you? How have been able to leverage this approach in your career so far? Tepper’s strong emphasis on quantitative analysis excites me because it complements my background with an evidence-based approach. As an architect, my career has revolved around design and construction, and I haven’t had the opportunity to delve into finance, accounting, and other essential quantitative aspects. Learning these new skills at Tepper will make me a more well-rounded individual and empower me to make better-informed business decisions. I see this as a chance to step out of my comfort zone and become more versatile while leveraging my previous knowledge of the construction industry to drive positive change.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In 2020, I was awarded the John Wiebenson Award by the American Institute of Architects and the Washington Architecture Foundation. This honor recognizes architects who have made a significant impact on the Washington DC community through their work in the public interest. Over the past seven years, I dedicated myself to supporting small philanthropies in the DC community, fundraising for organizations such as So Others Might Eat, aiding the homeless, and Liberty’s Promise, and assisting immigrant students in acclimating to American society and excelling academically. While I take pride in the buildings and projects I’ve worked on, what truly brings me the greatest sense of fulfillment is knowing that I’ve made a positive difference in my community by providing opportunities for others to succeed, especially those who may not have had the chances to do so otherwise.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Carnegie Mellon’s MBA program? I would encourage future applicants to be authentic in their applications. Think about what inspires you and how Carnegie Mellon can support you. If you allow your passions and curiosities to shine through your application, the school is ready to embrace student’s individual interests. I think that being able to articulate what drives you and inspires you in a genuine way is invaluable, and I believe that the school values the authenticity.

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