2018 Best EMBAs: Diego Abente, Washington University (Olin)

Diego Abente

Washington University, Olin Business School

“Driven, passionate, insightful, strong values, results oriented, strategic-thinker, empathetic.”

Age: 41

Hometown: Asuncion, Paraguay

Family Members: Betsy (wife), Carolina (daughter), Oliver (son)

Undergraduate School and Degree: Law degree (Paraguay) and Masters in Governance and International Development (UK)

Where are you currently working?

-International Institute of St. Louis, VP of Economic Development and President of the International Institute-Community Development Corporation

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, St. Louis Equal Housing Coalition (steering committee), Hispanic Leaders Group, Chevening Scholar

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Scaling up micro-loans to foreign-born entrepreneurs. They are so critical to the overall economic growth of our region.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Tod Milbourn. I could give eleven-billion reasons. To give just one: He used a great mix of technology, hands-on, and traditional methods.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Business Analytics. The class helped me better understand the power, and the relativity of data modeling.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? The combination of the curriculum, the faculty, and the institution. I felt like they would be the perfect fit for the challenge I was seeking.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The close connection with faculty and peers.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? What has been most notable to me is that I’ve been able to apply what I learn at each and every session almost immediately. Some concepts are applied more directly, but others serve to change my frame of reference, or approach to challenges.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Balancing work, school, and home life has been a learning experience. Early on in the EMBA, a major proposal for work was announced with a short turnaround that coincided with the final for financial accounting. In order to get both done in time, I had to use time after work to write the proposal, so I could submit it early and leave sufficient time to finish the accounting final. All this happened while I ensured that I left some time in the day to spend with my 3-year old and 2-year-old. This tested my time management skills, but I was able to juggle it all to find time for the kids, submit the proposal (now funded) and the accounting final.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Look for fit and relationship value. On many levels, EMBAs have many points of parity. In our region, WashU stands out for its ability to create community around the curriculum.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That it’s a timing issue. If the desire and drive to do so is there, the timing can be fit to it.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I regret not having done this a bit sooner.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I’ve always known, I just thought I had a timing issue.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…thinking about going to business school.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To be able to create value and have impact in my career and in my community.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a passionate, inquisitive, life-long learner.

Favorite book: Mindset

Favorite movie or television show: A-Team

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Climb Kilimanjaro, visit Antarctica

What made Diego such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Diego’s personal agility, creative initiative and world-view uniquely enables him to know what to do and how to do it. This kind of “know-how” is a leadership competency that shows up in every engagement. Diego is fun to be around and this makes working on projects with him so engaging. Diego recently became a citizen of the United States of America.”

Edith C. Varley

Director of Discernment,

Executive MBA Program

Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis


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