It was a small class in December 2001–and loaded with talent.
Among the eleven graduates earning a Global Executive MBA that December from the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU) were two executives who would become leaders of important divisions for major international corporations.
Manlio Valdes (MBA ’01) became president of EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India & Africa) for Ingersoll Rand Climate Solutions in August 2010.
Juan Ferreira (MBA ’01) serves as vice president, Europe, Middle East & Africa for Monsanto, a position he’s had since 2008.
Heading up divisions with thousands of employees and billions of dollars in sales, each man drives initiatives that affect not only their key markets but also the worldwide economy.
Both point to aspects of their FIU business education as instrumental in their success.
“What I learned at FIU gave structure and context to some of the practical knowledge I already had after 13 years in my career,” said Valdes, who also has a BS in engineering from Duke University. “Plus, FIU gave me a forum where I could exchange ideas, experiences and challenges with a very talented group of individuals from varied backgrounds.”
The diversity of the FIU faculty and student body was important in Ferreira’s education as well. He said that earning a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in marketing in his home country of Colombia had taught him ”numbers” but FIU prepared him for the true diverse thinking needed today.
“The business world has become global, and FIU understands that,” Ferreira said. “I learned to value other people’s perspectives.”
The business college at FIU was recommended to Valdes by his mentor, Ernesto Ramon, then president of Ingersoll Rand Latin America. Valdes appreciated being able to continue his career while earning his advanced degree, as did Ferreira.
“Like many business people, I didn’t have time for an MBA but FIU made it possible,” said Ferreira.
“We’re proud of the achievements of our alumni, especially in the arena of international business,” said Joyce J. Elam, executive dean of the business school. “When your graduates are being promoted to these important global positions, it’s a sign that our programs are preparing our graduates to be leaders in their organizations.”
Executives make keeping connected with FIU classmates a priority.
“Knowing my classmates is one of the great privileges in my life,” said Valdes, who resides in Belgium. “Our class formed a very nice bond, and we stay in touch after almost ten years, getting together when we can. One classmate even sends out emails for everyone’s birthday so we can all celebrate from a distance.”
“We communicate with each other via email, and every time I’m in Miami, I get together with as many classmates as I can,” said Ferreira, who lives in Switzerland.