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Josh Fuentes BA’17, MBA’20 draws on breadth of experiences and strong relationships to excel at Deloitte

by Paul McKean,

Josh Fuentes

Josh Fuentes BA’17, MBA’20 came to Willamette University because he knew it was the kind of place where he could do it all. As a longtime soccer player, Fuentes wanted a school where he could excel both as a student and an athlete.

At Willamette, Fuentes found the freedom to pursue a variety of activities while excelling on the soccer field and in the classroom. He built community by helping to reestablish and lead a fraternity chapter, gained professional experience in a half dozen on-campus jobs, discovered a love of public service through a legislative internship and more — all in four short years.

“That freedom let me test myself in ways that I wasn’t able to test myself before,” Fuentes said. “That gave me the confidence to move forward knowing what I was capable of.”

Inspired by his internship at the Oregon state capitol, Fuentes returned to pursue his MBA at Willamette after a year away — drawn by Willamette’s commitment to developing effective socially-responsible leaders in both the public and private sectors.

As an MBA student, Fuentes soaked up every bit of wisdom he could. From his PACE class with Professor of Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior Ashley Nixon, Fuentes learned how to navigate the uncertainty of real-world business situations. In finance and public policy classes with Associate Professor of Economics Jonathan Thompson, Fuentes practiced breaking down problems logically in order to develop novel solutions. Emerita Professor of Management and Global HR Lisbeth Claus helped Fuentes gain the people management skills that serve him to this day.

That multidisciplinary skill set immediately came in handy in the job he received right after graduation: an analyst position at Big Four consulting firm Deloitte, which was headed by another Willamette alum, Punit Renjen MM'88, Global CEO Emeritus. He joined a multi-service team using expertise in finance, taxes, human resources, and more to help financial institutions grant loans to small businesses at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right off the bat, I was able to dive into something important both for our organization and the communities that we serve,” Fuentes said. “Willamette left me with a ‘Not unto ourselves alone are we born’ mindset.”

After an early promotion, Fuentes was selected for the Deloitte Excellence Fellowship, a program that allows high-performing consultants to spend a year working on internal Deloitte projects. As a fellow, Fuentes was able to work on an issue that he was passionate about: improving the equity in Deloitte’s hiring processes. With the benefit of the human resources experiences he gained in the MBA program, Fuentes did so well that he was invited to stay on the project for an extra six months.

Looking back on his whirlwind journey over the past few years, Fuentes has come to understand the Willamette motto in a new light. The relationships and connections he built during his time at Willamette are everything to him.

“I am very very fortunate to have ended up with this opportunity,” Fuentes said. “It took a village. I can’t thank enough people for helping me to get to where I am today.”

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