2016 Best EMBAs: Miguel Jiménez, University of Toronto (Rotman)

Miguel Jimenez Toronto

Miguel Jiménez

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

“My biggest lesson was that being an observer and a learner at any facet of your life is probably the biggest asset you can have. It took me back to basics to overcome my experience biases and my own expertise.”

Age: 38

Location: Madrid, Spain

Family Members: Wife (Carmen) and daughter (Valentina)

Undergraduate School and Degree: Industrial Design at Istituto Europeo di Design

Where are you currently working? I run three companies, an online incubator called Bla Bla Labs that owns Cuida Tu Barba, a male grooming store and Ideas Republic, an online bespoke limited-edition shirt manufacturer to be launched in the next months; the second company is Castizo Grooming, a male cosmetics manufacturer; and the main company, Fast Forward, is a strategic foresight and future anticipation consultancy.

Most of my daily activities are in Fast Forward, while the other two companies are experiments and sandboxes to play with new market strategies, ideas, and products, but they are big enough to have their own employees and financials.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles: I just founded the new Design Council in Spain, as a not-for-profit organization to evangelise on how to use design in small and medium businesses to increase customer experience and build a more sustainable business opportunities for companies that can’t allow to pay for strategy, design, or foresight services.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My best achievement during business school was the successful delivery of my first daughter. I was bound to get married soon after starting the school and suddenly, during the honeymoon, we discovered we were pregnant, and she developed during nine exhausting months and was born on May 29, 2015, just in the midst of the MBA. Today, she is almost 1 year old and I just finished the MBA. She will see dad at the convocation in Canada, and will visit the U.S. and Canada for her first time!

She is the best deliverable I ever created.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I started my career about 18 years ago, I was convinced that technology was my role. I learnt how to code when I was about 9 years old, and that was my passion. Working as a software developer, I learned a lot of things in many industries and very little about business techniques. I realised that people are an indivisible part of software, and focused on learning about their behaviours to start focusing on user experience, and that led me to customer experience, so I decided to study industrial design. And at that moment in time, I discovered that technology, people and design were nothing without understanding business, so I decided to take the MBA.

What I’m most proud of in my career is the many times I was able to steer from technology to people, to design, and to business, to conform the closing circle of any business overview. I’m proud of being able to look at any business from very different perspectives and have enough experience in each of those areas to deliver unique value to my customers.

All that is materialised today in Fast Forward, the consultancy I run in Madrid, London, and Singapore, where we create the future of different businesses and industries.

Favorite MBA Courses? Though it was hard at the very beginning, I loved Corporate Finance, Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. All of them added convincing and quantitative tools that I can use every day to make better-informed business decisions, and I’ve seen the results of those better decisions in my companies in the last few months.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? With a background in technology and design, I needed an MBA that was focused a little bit on those aspects of innovation, entrepreneurship, and design rather than just the post-industrial segregation of quantitative subjects. I was a subscriber of Rotman Management, the magazine of the school, and a follower of Roger Martin, former dean of the school, so I thought his thinking and way of doing was part of the school’s DNA and I choose Rotman because of that mix of design, business, and thinking.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Challenges. The most important one is your peers. You come in with a lot of experience, and so do your classmates. So when you are able to pass the initial phase of frustration, you really enjoy the new ways of thinking, new challenges, and new perspectives that your classmates contribute.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? The vast amounts of background and expertise other people have and how they are embracing the same professional challenges that you do.

What was the hardest part of business school? Managing three different companies, planning a wedding, becoming a father, and traveling so much, not only for the school, but also professionally. Time commitment is really difficult, meetings with classmates, deliverables, exams, readings, and then all your usual workload, and then all the usual family workload … It’s been really difficult and I had to make hard decisions at some points affecting my business, school, or family life at different levels.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your executive MBA program? Build on the school options. If you are organising a networking event, don’t just sit and wait, but look for companies you would like to meet people from and send them a LinkedIn message or email to invite them. Use the synergy of your school to attract new customers, employees, or contacts to the events. That is probably the best thing you can use the school for, networking. Different classes are great and focus your time in a certain subject, but most of them are plenty explained in books in case you like to read and learn by yourself. The impressive network, talks, and conversations with classmates, companies, or professors are what can contribute the most value to your career. Just take it and plan to expand it and enhance it while you are in the school, not afterward.

You are the only one responsible to take advantage of it, and you can do it before it happens.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when …” My design speech was not understood by the C-Suite.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be …” Working as a mid-level manager instead of running my three small companies with the tools of big corporations and the advantage it provides me with.

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Elon Musk. I think he was just a smart guy, with some tech skills, who took the right opportunity at the right moment and now he is inventing the future we will live in.

What are your long-term professional goals? I want to invent the future. Running my company to help other businesses, in any industry, to anticipate the future and create new unmet opportunities.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My wife. She has taken this MBA the same way I did, when I traveled, she stayed home — alone, pregnant, and then with a newborn. It was as hard for her as it was for me. She deserves a degree the same way I do. So I want to thank her for all her support and unlimited patience with all the meetings, travels, and endless deliverables.

Favorite book: The Pinball Effect. It show you how inventions are just a matter of evolution on previous ideas and the book takes you from water fountains in the renaissance to injection engines at present times

Favorite movie: Her. It depicts a plausible sci-fi future where AI takes over humans and co-exists in the same environment

Favorite musical performer: The Smiths. Just the best thing to focus your mind

Favorite television show: “Battlestar Galactica.” Not because of the sci-fi set, but because of all the sociological issues humanity faces when a creation of us is looking for a Nietzsche-like way to kill their god, their creator. And it also creates a really beautiful tale, a fable, of how the Earth was created and how we appeared on this planet

Favorite vacation spot: After the MBA my favourite vacation spot is HOME

Hobbies? I like any sliding sport, kite-boarding, snowboarding and long-boarding, but also some slower sports like paddle surf are quite in my list

What made Miguel such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Miguel Jimenez was the creative mind and business design thinker that every program wishes they had. As Omnium is a program focused on ‘changing the way you think’ and ‘applied innovation,’ Miguel’s active participation and leadership with the class in pushing it to think bigger, broader, and better was a true inspiration to the students, staff and faculty.

“Miguel is a strategic design executive specializing in new business development, strategic innovation and customer experience design with 15+ years multidisciplinary expertise in technology, social sciences, and design. Miguel is an ‘experience’ person, always pushing the faculty and students to think for the future  whether it was learning of his work in Singapore or Chile, his new business ventures in the men’s facial hair care business, or asking the questions that really matter in class.

“Miguel not only pushed the class, but he pushed the program to think differently on how to deliver and market the program. He often provided feedback and experiences to think of new ways to work.”

Jeff Bieganek

Program Director

University of Toronto Omnium Global Executive MBA

“Executive education attracts all types of people. One of the rarest and most sought-after are the professionals who are able to immediately use what they learn and thus improve the program by giving feedback to their classmates and instructors. Over the course of his degree program, Miguel was an active learner and focused his capstone/thesis project to create a global first platform that uses machine learning to quantify design elements and thus the value in a space that has typically relied on qualitative feedback.”

Grayson Bass


University of Toronto Omnium Global Executive MBA


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