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MBA of Impact Spotlight: Meet Dan Arellano

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Dan Arellano"My biggest reward was the ability to jumpstart my career in a completely different field than I was in before. "

Name: Dan Arellano
Title/Affiliation: Vice President, Small Business Card
Company: Capital One
Undergraduate degree and institution: Yale University, BA
MBA institution: The University of Chicago - Booth School of Business, MBA Finance, Entrepreneurship, General Management


Who or what had the biggest influence on your decision to pursue an MBA?

I had a keen interest in learning about finance and gaining a hard skill set that would allow me to explore a variety of different opportunities.

How did you figure out where to start? How did you research financial aid opportunities, and can you recommend resources for those interested?

I looked at top schools that had programs with good “hard” skills.  I knew that in moving from education to an MBA and other careers, my hill to climb was going to be getting back into things like statistics and accounting that I hadn’t touched since undergrad but wanted to get good at.  For financial support, I relied on the schools and loans.  I was straightforward in that I applied for federal loans.

Did you join any organizations or programs in b-school or beyond? Were they specifically diversity affairs events/activities, or Hispanic-serving organizations? If so, how did they help in your school or career pursuits?

I was a member of HABSA while in business school, though I’d say I spent more time on issues affecting diverse populations or people of color outside of my MBA.  I remained involved in education and later, once at BCG and now at Capital One, have always taken leadership roles in that involve diversity recruiting.

Fit is an important aspect of the B-school experience, were you able to find your “tribe”?

Generally, yes.  I purposefully did not want to spend all of my time with the same group of people – so I did try to avoid this too much.  That said, there was a subset of folks who had similar interests or were looking for similar experiences that I spent most of my time with.

What influenced you to transition into a career in consulting? What was the recruiting process like for you at BCG?

Having gone from education to my MBA, I thought I needed to continue to expand both my skill set and my knowledge of different industries. I was not ready to commit to an industry.  BCG felt like the right place to continue learning while getting exposure to a bunch of companies.

What’s a typical day in the life of a VP at Capital One?

Fortunately, there is no typical day in the life of a Capital One VP.  Once I get to the office (typically have kid and gym time beforehand), I’ll settle down and verify that I understand my calendar and know what I’m up to for the day.  I’ll do morning e-mail clean-up and take a look at my task list.  Then – it starts to vary quite a bit.  Mornings can have a mix of team stand-ups, individual meetings to catch-up with my direct reports, or – depending on the time of week – content meetings on major decisions in our business.  For lunch I typically catch-up with other folks in the company I haven’t seen in a while or my team.  The afternoon is much like the morning, but often includes broader team meetings, meetings to determine tech intent, or updates from the parts of the business that I run on initiatives and/or future strategy.  Typically, by the end of the day I’ll be at the point where I’m more inclined to walk around my team area and catch-up with people or grab a snack.  Before heading home – I’ll typically make sure I didn’t miss any important messages that day.

What’s the most exciting part of your job or the part that you enjoy most?

There are times when we have big breakthroughs as a team or my team comes to me with some amazing insight, new cool customer experience – which is always a highlight.  On a day to day basis though, I enjoy working with really smart, diverse people.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome during b-school or after? Biggest reward you reaped?

Remaining focused.  There is a lot that comes at you and it all seems appealing – I had to control my expectations.  My biggest reward was the ability to jumpstart my career in a completely different field than I was in before.

If you could offer a “major key” to success (specifically to people of color interested in a career in business), what would it be?

  • Have a purpose for each decision.  It allows you to set clear goals and expectations for what you want out of the experience.
  • Learn early to build parameters for how you will make decisions.
  • Spend time getting to know yourself (what you want in the long run, how hard you like to work, what motivates you, etc.) – the sooner the better.

Research suggests that some minorities believe that “business isn’t for people like me” due to lack of representation in business school classrooms, accessible role models familiar with the degree or careers in business, and alignment of personal aspirations. What would you offer in response to this?

Because we need more minorities in business – it is specifically for people like us.  Decisions that affect society get made in a variety of forums, and to ignore a major one, means significant progress can’t be made.

What’s next for you?

To continue to enjoy what I do, build on what I’m currently learning while maintaining my focus on raising my sons.

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