Real Humans of Georgetown McDonough’s MBA Class of 2021
Ricardo Rendon Cepeda, Georgetown McDonough MBA Class of 2021
Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Birmingham, UK; BEng Computer Systems Engineering
Postgraduate Institution and Major: University of Bristol, UK; MSc Advanced Computing
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 8, Computer Software. Most recently as a Software Engineer at Apple.
Why business school? Why now?
I’m pursuing my MBA to switch careers from computer software to international development. In my previous job, I became highly specialized in very niche computing fields and ultimately felt that I was depriving myself of other opportunities.
Business school, particularly at a globally minded institution like Georgetown, allows me to take some time to explore new fields while building a fundamental understanding of how the world works. At 30, I feel like I have enough professional experience to share valuable insights in the classroom as well as the right maturity level to chart a new path forward.
Why Georgetown McDonough? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Location, network, and values. DC is home to major NGOs, multilateral institutions, non-profits, think tanks, and many more global organizations; it’s truly the nexus of business, policy, and development for the whole world. All these organizations and DC itself are full of Georgetown alumni!
I’m very grateful to be part of the Hoya community and proudly represent the next generation of McDonough MBAs. Since day one of the program, I’m truly living by Georgetown’s ethos of principled leadership and service to others. It’s an amazing opportunity to reinforce this philosophy on campus and apply it directly off campus.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
My ability to quickly understand and explain new technologies. With so many MBAs switching into the tech sector or into tech-centric roles, I hope to help my peers understand the industry at large and empower them to take on emerging technologies across various fields.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I can hold my breath for 4 minutes under water! It’s a very cool and useful skill for freediving.
Post-MBA career interests?
International Development. The climate crisis is the defining issue of our time, and I want to help solve this problem by leveraging my technology knowhow. There are many interesting and valuable applications of technology for sustainable development, and I want to pursue those that could have the largest impact.
For example, using big data to evaluate adaptation/mitigation policies, deploying drones for efficient land use, or leveraging blockchain to track global food supply chains.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
City visits. Most business schools you’ll visit will be very welcoming and impressive, but life beyond the campus should inform your decision. My wife and I took a 2-week holiday to travel around the USA and figure out what our commutes, networking opportunities, and potential living arrangements might look like for 2+ years. DC really surprised us, and we instantly felt at home here. I’m very happy at Georgetown and she’s just as happy doing her postgrad at American University.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
Ask for more feedback on written essays. My biggest mistake was leaving these to the last minute and not being critical enough with my own work. After you take your GMAT, I recommend diving straight into your essays. Request reviews from friends, family, and colleagues while you finish the rest of your application. By the time you’re ready to submit, hopefully you’ll have more external feedback to polish your essays and really make yourself sound as good as possible.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Recommendation letters. This component is very valuable of course, but I think that one recommendation per application should suffice. It’s really uncomfortable to ask the same colleagues to submit multiple letters, especially when you know they’re pressed for time or under stress.
To mitigate this factor, I asked many different colleagues for 1-2 letters each and guided them through the submission process as best as I could. Thankfully, Georgetown asks for only one letter and I simply asked my direct manager for his recommendation.
What is your initial impression of Georgetown McDonough’s students/culture/community?
Everyone’s very supportive and collaborative! Our class is highly diverse in many ways and we’re all genuinely interested in hearing everyone’s story. By constantly sharing our background, goals, progress, and commitments, we’re able to help propel each other forward and succeed as a group.
One thing you have learned about Georgetown McDonough that has surprised you?
All our classes stay up to date with current events and the theoretical learning is directly applied to ongoing issues. Besides the typical textbooks and cases, our professors really strive to relate our classroom learning to real-world scenarios, often some that occurred just a few hours earlier. It’s not uncommon to go back home and get an email from a professor (or fellow student) about a recent news article or corporate announcement that covers what we had just discussed in class.
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Accounting and finance. I initially dreaded these two subjects, but I’m actually enjoying them a lot! They’re both quite challenging, but they’ve helped me understand how the global economy works and how to make sense of the market.
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Month of Volunteerism. Each November, Georgetown McDonough students compete to see which cohort can volunteer the most hours at nearly 100 different events. I’m excited to work with my classmates outside the classroom, and I’m looking forward to forming closer bonds whilst serving the local community. This is a great opportunity to have some fun, give back to the city, and test our teamwork skills.