Meet the MBA Class of 2024: JD Nunez Hurtado, INSEAD

JD (Juan David) Nunez Hurtado


“Ecuadorian startup enthusiast; food lover; occasionally funny.”

Hometown: Quito, Ecuador

Fun Fact About Yourself: Proud father of 4 cats.

Undergraduate School and Major: Tufts University, Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Founder of Panacash (Colombian Fintech)

INSEAD is one of the most culturally and professionally diverse MBA programs in the world. How do you see these global perspectives enhancing the value of your business education over the next year? Growing up in a small city in Ecuador instilled in me a thirst to explore beyond my borders. My college journey in the US quenched some of that thirst, introducing me to varied cultures and offering new perspectives. It not only broadened my worldview but also sharpened my awareness of the uniqueness, both the strengths and quirks, of my Ecuadorian roots. It was like seeing my homeland through a magnifying glass, deepening my connection to it.

Now, as I stand on the cusp of my INSEAD journey, I expect an even more enriching tapestry of experiences. Every chat, whether it’s a formal classroom debate or a casual conversation over coffee, promises to be like a mini world tour. Delving into global markets, understanding diverse business challenges, and crafting solutions with peers from myriad backgrounds will be a daily adventure. Beyond the academic rigor, the prospect of forming bonds with individuals from nearly 50 countries excites me. These aren’t just professional networks; they’re friendships that will traverse continents and time zones.

To sum it up, INSEAD for me represents an even wider horizon, filled with opportunities to dive deep into global business landscapes and foster connections that span the globe. It’s not just about earning an MBA; it’s about enriching my global perspective and further defining my place in this diverse world.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of INSEAD’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Beyond the allure of its diverse student body, the standout aspect of INSEAD’s MBA program for me is its unwavering emphasis on fostering an entrepreneurial mindset. In today’s dynamic business landscape, the ability to innovate, pivot, and seize opportunities is paramount. INSEAD’s reputation for nurturing these skills and its rich entrepreneurial legacy resonated deeply with my aspirations. Having embarked on my own entrepreneurial journey previously, I recognize the value of such a mindset. This unique emphasis was a critical factor in my choice to join INSEAD, as it will shape me into a more adaptable and forward-thinking leader.

What has been your first impression of the INSEAD MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best INSEAD story so far. I’ve only been in Fontainebleau for three days attending the Business Fundamentals course, but the impression the INSEAD community has left on me is very positive. Each person I’ve encountered is both approachable and eager to connect. Despite the evident success in their professional trajectories, there’s an underlying humility that binds everyone.

One standout moment: Before starting the program, I connected with an Ecuadorian alum. His genuine enthusiasm about his time at INSEAD was palpable. More than just validating my excitement, he ardently urged me to champion the program back in Ecuador, hoping more of our compatriots would discover the transformative journey INSEAD offers.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at INSEAD? I’m really looking forward to the Consulting Club at INSEAD. I think it’s going to be invaluable for my post-MBA aspirations in consulting. I’m also eager about the ‘Entrepreneurs in Residence’ program. After my experience with my startup, it feels like the right place to share, learn, and refine my approach. And on a lighter note, I’m excited to join the Running Club. Took a hiatus from running due to health reasons, but I’m optimistic that with the support of INSEAD’s community, I’ll be back on track soon.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Starting Panacash, a lending fintech in Colombia, was a pivotal learning experience in my career. Though the journey was demanding and led to the company’s closure, our small yet committed team managed to roll out a functional product in just six months.

When our product was introduced to the market, the response surpassed even our expectations. Within a mere three months, we garnered over 40,000 downloads, attesting to our successful marketing strategy as evidenced by our low acquisition cost. Through Panacash, we facilitated loans to more than 3,500 clients, channeling a total of $575K into the financial ecosystem.

Yet, at the heart of this journey was our team. These dedicated professionals were integral to our mission, believing deeply in the company. Many have since moved on to impactful roles in various startups throughout Latin America, but our collective memories from Panacash remain an important step in our careers.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? After graduation, I’m keen on channeling the agility and resourcefulness I’ve cultivated from my startup experiences into a role as a management consultant. There’s an allure in understanding the intricacies of large corporations, forging connections with industry leaders, and sharpening my analytical prowess. With these enriched skills and insights, I envision returning to the entrepreneurial scene. My grand ambition? I want to establish a venture that champions financial inclusion in Latin America.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I was fortunate to receive offers from Cambridge, ESADE, and INSEAD. While all of them are esteemed institutions, none seemed to parallel INSEAD’s renowned internationality and diversity. Plus, I’ve had dreams of living in France since my high school days. After all, who can resist the allure of the capital of wine and cheese?

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into INSEAD’s MBA program? For anyone aiming to join the INSEAD MBA program, my foremost advice is to prioritize authenticity in every aspect of the application process, especially the essays. When I began crafting my own, I grappled with whether or not to discuss the failure of my startup. However, as I delved deeper into that story, I realized it was integral to my journey. By transparently sharing the highs-and-lows, not only was I able to convey the invaluable lessons I had garnered, but it also provided a window into my resilience and my ability to evolve from past challenges. Remember, INSEAD values genuine reflections, so don’t shy away from portraying both your achievements and the hurdles you’ve overcome.


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