Alum feature: Eduardo Ovejas

Please briefly describe your career path and what led you to choose The School of Business.

My background before business school was in consumer goods and finance. I was an investment strategist, but that didn’t fully align with my values, which drove me to seek something more impact- and purpose-driven. 

What drew you to the MBA program and Social Innovation Certificate, in particular?

I bumped into PSU, the MBA program and the Social Innovation Certificate while doing extensive research on where I could gain the best skill set around sustainability and a stakeholder approach so that I could come back to Mexico and create a positive impact.

What skills gained at PSU have you found most valuable in your career?

Everything that I learned at PSU and especially the certificate truly shifted my perspective on business models, the scalability and potential that social enterprises can have, and the integration of non-profit with for-profit to achieve greater results and bigger impact. All of these were particularly helpful while doing my internship at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in my current role at a venture I co-founded, which is a mission-driven company that aims to improve the sustainability of the global food systems. Our company seeks to promote economic development, regenerative agricultural practices, gastronomic and cultural rescue, and generate financial returns by building an ecosystem that places smallholder farmers and sustainability at the center of Mexican agriculture. I can honestly say that without the MBA, the Social Innovation Certificate, my classmates and teachers, and life at Portland I would not have been able to successfully do a career change from finance to the social sector and a more purpose-driven career.  My two years in the program — the teachers, students, community and living at Portland — were life-changing. I can honestly say that I became someone more aware and sensible. I now see a wither range of implications, how ecosystems, business, communities, and nature play a key role in our daily lives. The practical skills learned in classes and in team projects alongside the stakeholder approach to evaluate opportunities and challenges have been fundamental in my post MBA career and interactions.   

What inspires you?

The last couple of years have been extremely tough and I know that when we look at the news feed there are many things happening across the globe that make it hard to remain optimistic. But I believe we are just going through a rough patch and humanity will come out stronger and united from all of it.

I am inspired by people and the amazing things that we have been able to achieve. We now have the opportunity to use technology and science to make better decisions that will consider nature, communities, future generations and other species. I believe that as the years pass, we become more self-aware of the impact of our actions, and we have become more responsible consumers. I am excited to see what the entrepreneurs and businesses of the future will bring

What advice do you have for current or prospective graduate business students who are interested in your field? 

Be bold, think outside the box and solve for what you think can be done in a better way. It is possible that you will have to create your next role or opportunities. There are many projects and companies who are looking for exactly that — a fresh new pair of eyes that has the energy and drive to make a change. Stick to your beliefs and values, be patient and trust the process.

What does “redefining business” mean to you?

1)      Including the real cost of things throughout the supply chain (from seed to shelf) — this means impact to nature, species, carbon footprint and avoiding subsidies that distort how we as consumers see products.

2)      Blended finance – having the possibility for a project or business opportunity to tap into different pools of capital ranging from philanthropy to impact investing, patient capital or pure capitalism, where each different pool can catalyze the next and have their specific goals met, while at the same time allowing the venture or entrepreneur to innovate with new business models that can change global markets.

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