Gabriel M. Elizondo, MBA ’15 (E)
Chief Commercial Officer, Forestal La Reforma

Gabriel ElizondoWhen Gabriel M. Elizondo decided to pursue an executive MBA degree, he could have chosen a local university. His hometown, Monterrey, is one of Mexico’s largest, wealthiest cities and home to scores of international corporations. But Elizondo, who had been working for 16 years at his family’s 104-year-old business, Forestal la Reforma, wanted a truly world-class program. MBA options at local universities would have provided the business education but, he said, would have lacked three important factors critical for him personally: A diverse and international network experience with peers from many different backgrounds and cultures, a faculty that enriches the learning experience in many ways, and an international degree from one of the most prestigious schools worldwide.

That’s why he chose to enroll in the Cornell Executive MBA Americas program, delivered via a real-time broadcast in Monterrey and 21 other major cities, described as a “live and connected classroom”. The program’s innovative technological platform greatly enhances coursework by allowing for highly interactive learning, a one of a kind experience. Elizondo was able to interact face to face with his peers in a well appointed boardroom and easily pose questions to his professor who was broadcasting from a state of the art studio on the Cornell or Queen’s campuses. “While the professor or my classmates are commenting on any particular issue, we can discuss within our boardroom [in Monterrey] different points of view or scenarios without interfering with the learning process of the students in other boardrooms, so we can later interact with more enriched participation,” Elizondo says. “The end result is a much better learning experience.”

The experience is also helping Elizondo in two critical aspects of leadership: ensuring that personal family issues do not interfere with the business, and making sure that corporate strategy, managerial decision making, and effective policies and procedures are in place to support the growth of Forestal, an environmentally sustainable supplier of wood products. “The program has given me great tools to do this,” he adds.

“I was looking for a school with the reputation that would allow me to advance my career and help me take the ventures I had started to the next level,” says Elizondo, whose pursuits include founding and running an art gallery — the GE Galeria — and leading the Partido Revolucionario Institucional political party for Monterrey.

“Some of the things that attracted me to the program were the ability to get an MBA without having to quit my job, and the fact that I could actually have 40 percent of my classes during the residential sessions in Ithaca and Kingston,” says Elizondo. Another big boon is interacting with classmates from more than 20 cities throughout the Americas, he adds.