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Joshua Fuentes MBA’20

Before Willamette MBA: Expansion Consultant at Beta Theta Pi
After Willamette MBA: Advisory Analyst (Financial Advisory Consultant)

Tell me about your undergrad experience and what was your path from there to the MBA program?

I went to Willamette for undergrad and majored in civic communication and media and minored in sociology and was a goalkeeper for the men's soccer team all four years. During my sophomore year I had an internship across the street at the state Capitol with Senator Steiner-Hayward. In my sophomore year, I also became a founding member and later president of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. In my senior year I interned with Beta Theta Pi and really enjoyed that experience.

Beta Theta Pi had a position open for an expansion consultant/development coordinator, so I applied and got that job knowing that I didn't want to take more than a year off before I went back to grad school. I had that internship at the state Capitol, so I was interested in the public sector. I knew Willamette MBA was where I wanted to come back to because of its proximity to the Capitol, the emphasis on public administration, and the quality of the program.

In my first year I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to find a good internship. I was able to find a business analyst internship with HP through Willamette MBA, which has a strong relationship with HP. I had a great experience at HP. I absolutely loved it -- the company culture and the people were great, but I knew that working as a business analyst wasn't something that I wanted to do. Going into my second year I spent a lot of time figuring out what I wanted to do. I knew I liked the variety in the work I did and I knew I liked solving real-world problems.

I figured out business consulting was what I wanted to go into, so going into my second year I started applying to different positions at different business consulting firms and got the offer from Deloitte in November. I graduated with concentrations in operations, analysis, and systems as well as human resources.

You mentioned that it was important for you to go to grad school and not take too long of a break after undergrad, why was that important to you?

I think it's very dependent on the person. I had classmates in my cohort that waited a bit longer to go back to grad school and did phenomenally well in the program, getting phenomenal offers after the program. Personally, I didn't want to take too big of a break because I was still in the academic mindset and fired up to do that, so I wanted to keep that progress going. And I also wasn't exactly sure what I really wanted to do. I had a lot of different interests, but nothing solidified. Willamette MBA gave me the opportunity to explore my different interests and what would make me happiest and most fulfilled.

What advice would you give to future Willamette MBA students if they’re thinking about a career in consulting?

Take experiential classes that Willamette MBA offers. Those classes are absolutely incredible. You get the chance to work in ambiguous situations and if you fail that's fine, you learn from it so that doesn't happen in the real world.

Take any of those classes that really encourage those critical thinking and problem solving skills. For example, Management Analytics was a class I took with [Associate Professor of Operations and Information Systems] Henry Bi that had a lot of problem solving and was Excel-driven.

One of the great things about Willamette MBA is the variety of offerings that they have for students to develop skills that are actually applicable in the professional world. Problem solving skills, critical thinking, and analytical skills -- these are the things that you will be using in the real world. I can't understate the value of Excel and PowerPoint. To be able to give presentations or report results on the data you've collected are very important.

What does a typical day or a typical week look like at Deloitte?

At Deloitte, I’m in the Risk & Financial Advisory group and I work as an advisory analyst (financial advisory consultant). Our work covers internal audit and assurance, cyber risk, financial risk, transactions and restructuring, forensic, strategic and reputation risk management, and regulatory and operational risk.

A typical day really depends on the client you have at that moment. Clients can have different problems that require different kinds of skill set, workflow, or implementation, etc. A typical day for me would be one to three meetings. These meetings can be just internal meetings or meetings with clients. Client meetings can be presentations, walking through some sort of documentation or actual tool, or getting some actual work done, so it's not always presenting to clients, sometimes it's collaborating with them as well.

In a typical day you would get individual tasks assigned to you to work on throughout the day, week, or longer term. But it's still a collaborative environment even over Zoom. You can choose to get involved in any internal firm initiatives. I’m involved in an internal firm initiative regarding sustainability. It’s nice to be also doing something that contributes to Deloitte internally.

Could you tell us a bit more about how you got involved in the internal firm initiative?

At Deloitte, it’s a two-week onboarding process. After that I was looking for something to do, I wanted to get involved however I could. When you're not on a project it's known as being on the bench and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that you have a chance to go find the project that you want or go do any training that you need to do. It was through my Willamette MBA network at Deloitte that I found out about the internal initiative. The Willamette MBA network at Deloitte is a very, very strong network of Willamette alumni, who are very willing to help people look for internships or full-time positions. I took a sustainability class with Heather Van Meter at Willamette MBA, so I knew that that’s something I’m very passionate about. While my role isn't directly related to sustainability, I still have an opportunity to work on it, so I appreciate the opportunity.

Is there anything that would surprise people about your day to day work in consulting or working at Deloitte?

I would say the amount that you have to learn on your own. It really does fall on you to make sure that you're learning all the materials and going through all the training that you need to and as quickly as you need to. I was surprised by the sheer volume of information too. I'm all about knowing as much about something as possible before working on it or going into it, but I was surprised by the scope of what Deloitte is able to access. Prior to getting you on to a project, Deloitte makes sure that you're well prepared for it. I would say that it definitely feels like drinking from a firehose sometimes and I didn't expect that. The Willamette MBA program definitely honed our business writing skills as well as the ability to dissect valuable information out of loads of documents and summarize findings.

Another thing that really surprised me is how closely our Practical Application for Career and Enterprises (PACE) consulting projects and Principles of Management Consulting with Marianne Bradshaw resemble what senior consultants do in the real world. I've had client meetings where senior consultants steer conversations or projects in a way that makes sense for the clients. Those classes give you an incredible opportunity to work closely with clients and be able to steer the conversation or projects like senior consultants. I cherish those opportunities. Make the most of them.

What other valuable skills did the Willamette MBA instill in you?

I think two other things that Willamette MBA really does a great job of instilling in you are networking skills and teamwork skills. There are hundreds of thousands employees at Deloitte, so it’s important for me to function successfully in a big organization. How do I provide as much value as I can to the firm while also gaining as much value for my time there? I think networking is a really big part of that.

Going into the MBA program I felt confident with my networking skills, but I think what Willamette MBA does a really stellar job of is giving you the tools to turn a networking conversation from a superficial level to having a big impact for the future of your career. It’s important to recognize that you should give something to the person who’s giving you their time -- this is a perspective that Willamette MBA gave me. Willamette MBA gives you the knowledge, tools, and skill set to know how to benefit the person who’s giving you time, so that you can provide value from the get-go.

Back to teamwork skills. You can't work with everyone in the exact same way. People are very different and so it's important to know how to navigate the different personalities that you'll meet in your internships and your jobs. Once you’ve figured someone out and know how to work best with them, you open a lot more doors for collaboration and future opportunities.

In PACE we were put in teams of five to six and forced to work together on these difficult projects. As a team we encountered different kinds of challenges and these challenges weren’t always fun, they were meant to be difficult, and they were meant to show you how to get through things together. When you do go into the real world you've already encountered similar problems before as a team, you know how to solve them together, you know how to adapt to the needs or wants of different team members and also be clear what you want as a team member.

Where do you see your career going from here?

In the next two to five years, I can definitely see myself still with Deloitte, hopefully, a couple promotions along the way. I can see myself with Deloitte without a doubt because, even if I end up not being 100% happy with what I will be doing, there are so many different opportunities within Deloitte that interest me and that are available to me as well. I have a place within Deloitte as long as I keep performing well and showing that I have value and proving that I add value to the firm, I know there will be opportunities that align with what I want to do. After that, I’m not entirely sure. I may end up falling in love with an industry or some type of specific work and want to do that. But I think I like variety too much and I love the different things that Deloitte does. I can see myself with Deloitte for the next two to five years, if not 10 plus years well.

Joshua Fuentes MBA’20

Joshua Fuentes MBA’20

Willamette University

Early Career and Career Change MBA

Salem Campus

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.