2022 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Mario Andres D’Amato, Duke University (Fuqua)

Mario Andres D’Amato

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

Age: 37

“Proud Colombian. Global Professional with more than 15 years in HR and Management Consulting Experience.”

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia

Family Members: Natalia (wife), Paolo (Son – 6 years old)

Fun fact about yourself: Active Soccer Player and Musician (Drums and Guitar)

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Engineering, Industrial Engineer Universidad De Los Andes (Colombia)

Where are you currently working? Global Strategic Initiatives Manager (Marsh & McLennan Companies – Mercer).

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Class Representative Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) 2023. I also support local soccer teams in community tournaments as a way of encouraging the young population to keep practicing the sport that they love and develop leadership skills.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My proudest achievement is to be part of an incredible team of class representatives in the Global Executive MBA 2023 (thank you Sam Spencer and Dylan Thomas for your friendship and partnership). Through this experience, I have been able to listen and help my fellow classmates and friends to improve the overall student experience in the program. In addition, I was able to share my experience as a Colombian student to improve the cultural sensitivity and empathy across our cohort. I would also like to highlight my Personal Development Plan (PDP) developed in our leadership class with Professor Sim Sitkin. This exercise made me realize the potential and development areas that I have as a global leader and with a direct application to my job and personal life. With the PDP, I was able to plan a career path that I envision as a global leader of consequence.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud of my career path at Mercer, where I have the joy and opportunity to work across two lines of businesses (Career and Health) in local, regional, and global roles. Through these roles, I have been fortunate to have great colleagues and mentors that genuinely cared about excelling in their jobs and, most importantly, worked as a team to lend a hand and guidance when needed. I’m proud of working at a consulting company that genuinely helps people in wealth, career and health.

As a global strategic manager and Principal, I am fortunate to mentor colleagues from around the world. The best experiences that I’ve had during the last 10 years is through the direct participation and content creation of our global training and growth events. Through these amazing annual experiences, I have been able to travel to Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia and get to know our very best talent across these geographies. I am also very thankful to work in a global role remotely from Colombia where I can contribute directly to my region and country and enjoy my time with my wife, son and my parents.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My two favorite professors are Simon Gervais (Financial Management) and Tony O’Driscoll (Global Markets & Institutions).

As an industrial engineer, I have always enjoyed numerical-oriented classes that have an immediate application. Simon’s Financial Management class provides a clear overview of financial markets and institutions and company valuation methodologies. His teaching style provides a clear and practical path to approach financial concepts that could be easily applied within our organizations and our own investment opportunities.

Global Markets & Institutions (GMI) is probably the most important class in our Global Executive MBA program. GMI provides us an in-depth analysis of the latest global social and economic realities. In this class, we engage with active subject matter experts and speakers to discuss different approaches and out-of-the-box solutions to the latest challenges in the world: global conflicts, Covid-19, public institution evolution and trust. I also appreciated Tony’s passion in sharing Corporate Shared Value and design thinking concepts to extend our global leadership contributions beyond our core businesses.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose Fuqua’s Global Executive MBA Program as I wanted an experience applying everything that I learned immediately in my current role. I also wanted a program that prioritized teamwork beyond any academic result. I was also looking for a program that could enhanced my leadership capabilities. Fuqua is well known to integrally develop leaders across the intelligence, emotional and decency dimensions. I was curious with the Decency Quotient concept as defined by Dean Bill Boulding: “DQ implies a person has not only empathy for employees and colleagues but also the genuine desire to care for them … DQ implies a focus on doing right by others”.

Fuqua rightfully rounds up leadership with the leaders of consequence concept. In my opinion, a leader of consequence is one where a person’s actions are coherent with their words. In a global environment, we also need leaders of consequence that are conscious and empathetic about the variety of contributions that a diverse and unique population could provide. This element could only be achieved through a Global Executive MBA that creates the ideal environment for global immersion and leadership development.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Despite working in an international environment for more than 10 years, I was not aware of my cultural biases as a leader before the MBA program. In Latin America, our leadership style and communication tend to be indirect to avoid conflict and differences. However, safe conflicts are the start of bringing great changes and ideas to society.  With the MBA, I have learned to speak with courage and determination in situations where I believe our business should take a different path and prioritize the integrity and values of our teams. As a leader, I also believe in fairness, exposure and credit recognition to colleagues with high business ethics and hard work.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I try to prioritize the time spent with my family during weekends. MBA work requires a lot of preparation before and after residencies, mostly during weekends. This requires a balance that implies organization and sacrifices from all my family team members. In our family, we try to foster sport and musical development in our son. Saturdays and Sundays are our most active family days where I often start early morning to read and study (5 am!), attend classes virtually, and enjoy my son’s soccer practices and tournaments. None of this routine could have been possible without my wife, who has been key in this teamwork by becoming an active soccer mom during Saturdays while I’m in MBA classes.

I also want to share how my study teams have been supportive during the most challenging times when pursuing the MBA. During the first terms of the program, I had to help a close family member with a delicate medical condition and treatment. This could imply that I needed more time to help my family and not participate actively in some of the classes or assignments during specific moments. After sharing my story with my team, they all understood and supported me during this difficult situation, but I was also accountable for the assignments that I worked on and contributed actively. I am grateful for the life-long friends that I have made in this program and for all the support received by each one of them.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? The best advice that I would give is to look for an Executive MBA that is aligned with your personal values and that could help you focus on developing your potential as a global leader. During your MBA selection process, try to summarize explicitly your purpose and the goals that you want to achieve with this experience. When selecting the program, engage with current students and alumni who could help guide you through the process and highlight the best of their student experience. Once in the program, try to get the most out of the experience. Review the courses in anticipation and review how you can apply the knowledge in your current and future jobs. Try to use your free time to get to know your classmates and enhance your network. Participate in a lot of extracurricular activities to engage with your classmates, and use the career center’s resources to review your CV, presentation skills, and potential employers. Most importantly, enjoy the ride!

What was your biggest regret in business school? I do regret not doing the program sooner. My path of searching for an MBA program was a long one (almost 10 years!). However, I do believe in perfect timing, and after being admitted to the Fuqua School of Business I have tried to get the most out of this learning experience.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I want to highlight the best of our teams in this cohort. At Fuqua, we are committed to be leaders of consequence emphasizing IQ, EQ and DQ (Decency Quotient). As part of Team Fuqua, we recognize that all team members are leaders and represent the best of our world. We can acknowledge diversity and personalities to learn from each other in this development path.  I have chosen a key characteristic that defines each team member in my cohort and that embraces the best team of our teams.

Discipline & Resilience: Sam Spencer & Atsushi Osada

Courage: Jaime Bzdyra & Alejandra Honey

Creative Thinking: Jennifer Arrington

Servitude: Mudra Patel

Empathy: Forgan Elmubarak & Joanne Dai

Gratitude: Dylan Thomas

Humility: Aaron Mbati & Chinenye Durunguma

Nobility: Chandler Bell & Chris Schoenfeld

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I wanted the opportunity to continue working while studying to apply what I have been learning directly in my role. I also wanted an executive MBA program where I could interact with colleagues from around the world and know more about their realities and situations. I also wanted to have the opportunity to travel to different locations so that I could engage directly in business environments that I was not previously exposed to.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term goal is to become a visible figure (CEO or executive director) where I can allow employees to showcase the best of their values and talent and build together an environment that demonstrates a coherence between the client value proposition and employee value proposition. I believe that employees will provide the best value of our clients if they are happy and receive the products and services that they offer. As part of this vision, I would like to set an example to extend our societal contributions by focusing on the greater good, sharing and contributing our experience to the most in need, and going beyond our core business to make an impact in people’s lives under a clear Corporate Shared Value approach. As a leader of consequence, I would like to continue down my path to become a better human to serve my country and region.

What made Mario such an invaluable addition to the class of 2022?

“Within a short period of time, Mario’s leadership gifts were evident as he was quickly elevated to a class representative. It has been a pleasure to work with Mario in this capacity and to watch how seriously he has taken the role. Mario expertly collaborated with our program and leadership teams to make the Duke MBA experience exceptional for his entire cohort. Mario’s background and experience play a pivotal role in his leadership, as he truly values different perspectives and seeks common ground for all. Mario has the unique ability to balance various and specific requests from his classmates, while taking interests of the collective into consideration during the decision-making process. I am honored to have worked with him as a student, and am looking forward to seeing how he will continue to use his MBA to make his company and society better.”

Karen Courtney
Associate Dean, Executive MBA Programs and Global Teams


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