Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Pedro Albarrán, MBA'02: The Strategist
Mexico City, Mexico
Managing Director, Hyundai Motor Mexico
MBA ’02, Kelley School of Business
How did you find your first post-MBA opportunity?
I came to Kelley from Arthur Andersen, where I did business consulting for the automotive industry. During that time, Toyota contacted us to do research on starting an operation in Mexico. It seemed like a great opportunity for me, but when I met Toyota’s recruiters at Kelley, they were looking for US students only. I kept pushing—I looked for people at Toyota connected to the Mexico project, and I sent personal letters telling them I had some experience in the field, could work in the United States, but ultimately wanted to return to Mexico. And after 13 great years at Toyota, I had the opportunity to grow in the industry and recently took on the managing director role at Hyundai’s headquarters in Mexico—and the momentum I’ve found in my career is all because of Kelley.
How did Kelley prepare you for the challenges you face in the automotive industry?
The MBA program also has a strong interest in global business. Toyota is a Japanese company with a California subsidiary that was launching a Mexico operation. These are three very different cultures. It’s a similar situation with Hyundai, a Korean company with offices around the world. Through my Academy, I learned cultural competency strategies that helped me integrate the best of each. I also got a wide-ranging education. I wasn’t a marketing major, but the faculty in that area are great, and I took a lot of those courses. This helped me as Toyota was setting up the first stages of our marketing efforts and gave me the tools I needed to get operations off the ground in Mexico for Hyundai. My strategy courses were also very relevant when it came to launching a company in a new country. I keep those textbooks on my desk to this day—they keep me connected to the lessons and people who were so instrumental in my success.
What advice do you have for future MBAs?
First, look at schools to see how much flexibility they allow in their coursework. Kelley really enables you to customize. Second, try to take as many courses as possible with the best professors, no matter what discipline. Even if it’s a subject that doesn’t interest you, you’ll always learn a lot from a good professor, and Kelley has great faculty. Third, look for global experiences. The world is getting more integrated, and that needs to be a priority. Kelley has worked hard to give students those opportunities.