Student Profile: Study Abroad
Roberto Jimenez '09
Recipient, Joseph Wright Alsop Memorial Scholarship
Co-leader, Energy Club
Summer internship: Shell
People often ask me where I come from. It's not the easiest question to answer. But it's important, since where I've been helps explain where I'm headed. I have a Costa Rican passport, but I lived there only three years of my life. I spent much of my childhood in the Philippines, but we also lived in Guatemala and Cameroon. My father worked on banana plantations, so we moved about quite a bit. I'd go to school and then spend the rest of the day running through the jungle and splashing through the rivers. You could say I was very close to nature. I loved it, but I was aware of the fact I had greater privileges than other children. There are so many intelligent, capable people where I've lived who haven't had the opportunities I've had, and I'm determined to help the people of the developing world climb out of poverty.
I left home at age 13 for boarding school in Mississippi, where I was on scholarship. I also received a full ride at LSU, where I planned on studying agricultural engineering, like my father. But U.S. agriculture was sinking in the early 1990s, so the school refashioned itself more toward biological engineering. They completely reformed the curriculum and it was a very exciting place to be. It's actually one of the reasons I chose SOM, having seen how dynamic an institution can become, and the kind of people it attracts, when it decides to transform itself. After college, I worked for several environmental consulting firms. Because of my background, I was the guy who got sent abroad. I'd go into factories and work with them to improve their environmental performance.
I decided to come to business school for a number of reasons. To be honest, I'd traveled so much over the last eight years, I wanted a chance to be somewhere I could really think about my future. But what I'd really learned at this point in my career was that while a lot of problems can be solved through technology, a lot of the intractable issues came down to human behavior. If people aren't doing what they need to do to make things better, progress won't be made. And I didn't know what was influencing them. Was it customers or investors? Was it a management issue? I realized I needed more skills.
I was immediately attracted to SOM. It's so international, which suits me well since I want to continue working throughout the developing world. The new curriculum struck me as really exciting, since I'd already attended a school under transformation. But ultimately, what I want from business school is to be able to think like a CEO. To run a company, you need to think broadly, to be able to take into account the needs of employees, investors, and customers. It's not enough to just understand finance or marketing. To be a great CEO, you need to understand different perspectives. And the SOM curriculum is designed perfectly to accomplish this.
SOM recently launched a program where students get to study at a number of great business schools around the world. I'll be spending the fall at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. I've spent some time in other parts of India, and am really looking forward to getting to know this part of the country.
My summer internship is with Shell in their London headquarters. I've decided that the best way I can help the developing world emerge, while safeguarding the environment is to work in the energy sector. Clean, affordable supplies of energy are fundamental to development. I'll be working in the Future Fuels and CO2 group at Shell. I considered working for a small renewable energy company, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw how important it is for global companies such as Shell to get seriously involved in renewable energy. To have any real impact, you need scale. A company with global reach and real market muscle can have a huge impact.
Interviewed April 29, 2008.