2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Juan I. Ezquerra, Ohio State (Fisher)

Juan I. Ezquerra

The Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business

“Proud LGBTQ+ Latino leader passionate about people, DEI advancement, and giving back to my communities.”

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

Fun fact about yourself: I acted in and produced school musicals and plays for over ten years. I cannot wait to do it again after graduation!

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Bachelor’s Degree in Administration and Finance, Universidad Panamericana

Specialty in Business Strategies, Universidad Panamericana

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Grupo Financiero Banorte, Product Marketing Manager for Insurance Products

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? I had the honor of being the first-ever admitted Fisher Full-Time MBA student to the US Personal Banking Leadership Associate Program at Citi. During the summer, I worked in New York City for their Marketing team, coordinating the advertising for wealth and mortgage products. There, I had the chance to hone agile project management skills and apply positioning strategies learned at Fisher to support Citi’s team with communication campaigns, marketing for new financial inclusion products, and productivity increases by laying out internal processes.

Where will you be working after graduation? I was fortunate to receive an offer from Citi to return as a full-time Leadership Associate Manager for the US Personal Banking team. I will rotate among three different teams for two years, where I hope to leverage my Product Marketing background to pivot into Product Management roles.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Recipient of the University Fellowship
  • Reaching Out MBA Fellow
  • President of the Full-Time MBA Student Council
  • Vice President of Out of Office (LGBTQ+) Student Organization
  • MBA Ambassador and Graduate Assistant for the Admissions and Graduate Programs Office
  • Member of the Fisher Latino Graduate Association and the Association of Marketing Professionals

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It was a life-changing opportunity and honor to represent my classmates as President of the MBA Student Council. I believe that leadership roles must revolve around those we serve and work for. I knew that my responsibility was to ensure the voice of each of my classmates was heard to make the program what they needed and guarantee our success in collaboration with our MBA Directors. I feel proud of many projects we implemented. My favorite is the mentorship program we created to pair all admitted students with a hand-picked senior mentor to help them navigate their academic and job search processes. These projects could not have been possible without the arduous work of the five Vice Presidents of the Council – I was so lucky to lead a team of such talented and passionate peers (and friends).

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Interestingly, the professional achievement I am most proud of happened when I pivoted from the financial services industry to use my marketing background. I wanted to to benefit my community by volunteering full-time at Stonewall Columbus, a local LGBTQ+ Community Center. I am proud of this experience because I could work first-hand with the community and support over 3,000 people monthly. I did so by leading the Community Service team and developing communication strategies to engage with and serve more people. My most treasured memory from that time is the rewarding feeling of being a part of the team that organized the Columbus Pride March in 2022 for over 700,000 people.

Why did you choose this business school? The MBA program at Fisher has many qualities that range from its academic quality focused on developing principled leaders to its connections with top companies in the country. Yet, my main reason for choosing Fisher was its small class size that fosters close interactions because of how impactful similar relationships were to my professional development. I am sure I made the best decision because I felt part of a tight-knit group with classmates recommending each other for competitive jobs and developing lifelong friendships.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Fisher has many talented and humane instructors, such as Professors Kendall, Dumas, Newsom, Kotsi, Piletz, and Bailey. However, my favorite MBA professor was Prof. Stephanie Wapner, who teaches Organizational Behavior. I enjoyed her class because it made me more aware of the intricacies of team dynamics through engaging class discussions, which prepared me for my summer internship. Dr. Wapner also manages case competitions at Fisher, guaranteeing MBA students bring their best at the most competitive ones. More importantly, she became a mentor who continuously checked in with me to support my professional and personal growth.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course was Strategy Formulation and Implementation by Dr. Elena Plaksenkova. This class sparked my passion for corporate strategy because Prof. Plaksenkova went above-and-beyond to ensure we all understood and applied complex topics such as platform strategies and disruptive innovation using class discussions to build on everyone’s ideas. Taking this class made me rethink the teams I want to be a part of when I return to Citi. Now, I know I want to work closer to corporate strategy makers and product developers.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The best tradition at Fisher is the Red Carpet event that happens every April to welcome admitted students, help them network with current students and alumni, and share the Buckeye spirit with them. During this event, the school prepares future MBAs for their upcoming journey, topping the experience with a social event at the Ohio Stadium. I have had the chance to attend twice, and the opportunity of sharing my experience with others and the excitement of stepping on the ‘Shoe’ field is beyond comparison. This event reflects Fisher’s focus on setting students up for success early and the importance of relationships to thrive as a Buckeye.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? During my MBA program, I experienced and witnessed how challenging the job search and adjusting to a new culture is for international students. If I could go back to change something, I would work on creating more opportunities for Fisher’s international students to connect with companies open to hiring international candidates and expand their networking options. I would also partner with the school to create a defined schedule of international and cultural celebrations to recognize underrepresented communities and global traditions.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? I must be the best promoter of Columbus because I cannot stress enough how vibrant and promising this city is. I always describe it as a city that is fun enough not to get bored but still manageable enough not to feel overwhelmed and succeed in an MBA program. However, the best thing about Columbus is its welcoming community to international newcomers, diverse communities, and unique experiences. Get ready to hear about Columbus everywhere soon because this city keeps flourishing by the minute!

What surprised you the most about business school? Going through business school made me realize that business is all about people. Who would think I would have multiple dinners with the alumnus I met through practicing interviews? Or who would’ve thought I would develop a close friendship with some of my interviewers while job searching? That happened because networking sessions, practice rounds, and official interviews became lasting relationships by finding commonalities with these people and getting to know them better. Thanks to these encounters, I found mentors at Fisher and Citi who helped me bring out my top game to succeed as an MBA student and future leader. More importantly, I learned that I must lead with a people-centric vision because business is also all about the people we work for: our team members, stakeholders, and society.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire my classmate and friend, Eva Menezes, because she taught me a life-changing lesson, reminding me that inclusion goes beyond what is visible. Motivated by her own challenging experience during the MBA program as a neurodivergent student, she sacrificed taking crucial classes to serve the community by working on an impactful independent study. The project scope was to identify the challenges and differences in the job search process between Fisher’s neurodivergent and neurotypical graduate students through interviews. The practical goal of this research study was to share the findings with the Office of Career Management to guarantee neurodivergent students receive the personalized coaching and tools they need to thrive during their MBA experience and job search process. I will never forget how she wrapped up her presentation: “Compassion is the greatest accommodation a neurodivergent professional can receive in the workplace.”

I will be forever thankful to Eva because, as a family member and future leader, I am now more aware and compassionate with my neurodivergent loved ones and team members.

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

1) I want to leverage my industry (financial services) as a platform to lead a team to expand access to financial resources for underserved communities. Banks continuously promote their products as life-changing and door-opening solutions, but not everyone can access them. We could impact even more lives by working to create products tailored to the needs of underbanked people and provide them with the right resources to facilitate progress for everyone.

2) I would also like to lead an ERG representing the LGBTQ+ and/or Latine communities to keep giving to my communities and ensure DEI advancement in and out of my company.

What made Juan Ezquerra such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Juan’s academic enthusiasm, personal integrity, and commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive community have distinguished him as one of Fisher’s Best & Brightest MBAs within the Class of 2024. When core faculty were asked what makes Juan such a valuable addition to the class, Dr. Stephanie Wapner shared “Juan is the ‘glue’ of the class, warmly connecting with everyone. He is both an academic and social leader and embodies the leadership characteristics we try to foster at Fisher.” Dr. Christine Bunker noted that, “Juan provides a level of calm and confidence that makes everyone feel welcome and heard.”

Dr. Elena Plaksenkova shared that Juan is one of the best students she has ever had, stating “he brings up new perspectives on the question at hand and offers in-depth thoughts on topics discussed. Juan demonstrates sharpness of mind, intellectual curiosity, high social engagement, and interest beyond academic requirements…I am impressed by his engagement with the community and willingness to give back – he is the kind of principled leader that people look up to!” Juan has been a positive force for the value of a full-time MBA and an outstanding ambassador for The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.”

Leanda Rix
Managing Director, FTMBA Program

DON’T MISS: THE 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAs: CLASS OF 2024

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