Geronimo Villanueva ’02, MBA

Why did you select Rensselaer for your MBA?

I knew that I wanted to use my understanding of engineering to build new technology-based ventures and when I asked a trusted mentor for advice on where to get my MBA he suggested the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I liked that it was a small school because it was important to me to have close interactions with my professors and other students. Most importantly, I liked that the Lally MBA involved interactions with students in the other schools on campus and had access to cutting edge research in science and engineering.

What did you gain from doing your MBA at Rensselaer?

Confidence. The program focuses on putting students in real-world scenarios where they can succeed, fail, and learn. The small size of the program meant that I had a lot of access to professors so that I could really understand how to improve my skills. I didn’t expect to learn so many soft skills but they have helped me in my business ventures as much or even more than the hard skills.

What advice do you have for prospective South American students interested in doing an MBA at Rensselaer?

Don’t get so hung up on rankings and focus on whether the program is a good fit for what you want to achieve in the future. If you’re interested in interacting with successful real-world business professionals and researchers who know business and are willing to share their experiences, Rensselaer may be the right place for you. Take the time to get to know the professors – read their bios, look to see what companies they have founded and sold, investigate their areas of research, give them a call. Keep in mind that Rensselaer is a technology-focused school that attracts primarily scientists and engineers, but remember that it’s the face-to-face interactions that you’ll have here that will make the experience worthwhile.

How have you used your MBA over the past 10 years?

I founded a technology management consulting company right out of my MBA program. Our initial list of services included over 100 different areas and my training at Lally helped me set a more realistic and manageable list of core strengths. Our clients included Pfizer, Caterpillar, and John Deere, and at the height of the company we had 30 associates. My coursework in human resources helped with recruiting and hiring. Various projects I undertook during my MBA helped me understand R&D in various industries. Again, it was my understanding of the human side of things that ultimately made my MBA valuable and added to my success in business. After we sold the consulting company I started a family VC fund where I have co-created four award-winning technology-based companies in the areas of agribusiness (www.siosi.com.mx and www.yumma.mx), human genetics, and industrial machinery. I am also the president and founder of the Mexican Association of Synthetic Biology, a not-for-profit organization.  

Prior university: Tecnológico de Monterrey, B.S. in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering