Manuel Hurtado

MBA for Professionals Class of 2017 - Weekend

Hometown: Popayan, Colombia

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Cauca – Colombia, B.S. Electronics Engineering; University of Florida, M.S. industrial and systems engineering

Employer and Job Titles: University of Cauca – Colombia, B.S. Electronics Engineering; University of Florida, M.S. industrial and systems engineering

What led you to pursue an MBA? I strongly believe that preparation and continuous improvement are key to professional and personal success. The energy industry has captivating technical challenges for which having an engineering background has been instrumental, but in order to achieve my leadership goals I needed to strengthen my financial and managerial expertise, as well as develop new skills in the legal environment of business and economics. One of the most attractive features of the energy industry is the fascinating combination of advanced engineering, business and geopolitics, therefore to be a strong well rounded-leader capable of leading successful firms the MBA was the next step to prepare myself for the challenges ahead.

Why did you choose Rice for your professional MBA? With a previous Master of Science in engineering with a concentration in management one of the main priorities when selecting a school was the ability to “customize” the MBA with a school offering a variety of advanced electives, especially in the energy sector. Additionally, I considered the option of a full time program, but the reputation of the Jones Graduate School of Business and the program, the ability to come to a full campus having access to all student facilities and full-time professors without interrupting my professional career made Rice the best option for me.

What has been a highlight of the program? The Strategy and Industry Analysis course; immersion week is intense and the class is an excellent way to flip the business school switch in your brain. Going into business school there are a lot of expectations, it is an exciting time in our professional careers and having this course during immersion is a great way to shock the mind and reset, in order to start the MBA approach to business. It also sets a solid foundation of analytical business thinking and sets the stage for the first semester.

What has surprised you about the journey so far? The intensity and continuity required. In the weekend option there are 12 days between sessions; with class assignments, cases and readings in-between sessions there is a high volume of work that requires a very well organized schedule, but it keeps you engaged with the program and with the class materials. Most of our regular professional and personal activities don’t stop as we go through the program so it has been surprising to find sufficient time within schedules to allocate enough hours for school work and team meetings, although sacrifices need to be made in order to be able to have as much time as needed.

What advice do you have for prospective students? First and foremost balance. When thinking about going to business school it is important to find that balance between expectations, goals, financial investment, personal time and your career. When, in your career, to pursue an MBA is important to consider also. Having significant work experience will go a long way in class discussions and to relate class content with actual work experience. It’s important to consider personal plans, and also when is the most appropriate time based on where you think your career is heading.
Then once in business school, balance is a must; to maximize the experience in the professional program maintaining a healthy balance between school, work, personal time and exercise is crucial for long-term sustainability. Plan ahead as far as possible so that work commitments and travel are well mixed in with time for school work, and so that you still have time to exercise, spend quality time with your family and time to have fun!

What's something your classmates don't know about you? Engineering and business are just my profession, I like to think that I am an athlete at heart; my long-time dream was to be a professional soccer player until I had a career-ending injury. Fortunately (or unfortunately) it was early in my career and it didn’t interrupt my college education.