Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Civil Engineering, 2006
LarrainVial; Presidency of Chile; Sistema de Empresas Publicas (SEP)
Venture Capital & Private Equity Club, Section H Technology Rep, LatAm Club
“Following everything like it’s supposed to be, sometimes just doesn’t make a lot sense.
When Juan Eyzaguirre, MBA/MPA-ID 2015, served as chief of staff to the president of Chile, he learned an important lesson about the nature of rules. "Following everything like it's supposed to be, sometimes just doesn't make a lot of sense," says Juan. In one amusing example, Juan had to find an opportunity for his president to have a "casual conversation" with another president within the very formal confines of the United Nations' General Assembly. Juan found the right moment – by directing his boss to the washroom, where he could engage the other president in a short and relevant conversation at the sinks.
But the capacity to see beyond ordinary restrictions became much more important during an extraordinary crisis: Chile's 2010 earthquake. "It was really shocking," Juan says of his first visit to the epicenter. "People lost their family, their homes were destroyed. There were no hospitals or schools. The ill needed assistance and children were about to start the school year." Despite the devastation, the president recognized that it wouldn't be enough to meet immediate needs; people needed confidence in the future. "So," says Juan, "the president raised the bar and made a public commitment to get health care to every single person in need immediately, a classroom for every student before the school year started, and a house to every family before the winter arrived."
Bringing many talents together
Getting through the earthquake crisis meant mobilizing an entire nation and motivating everyone to work together. "It was really tough," Juan says. "But when you feel that you are part of a national effort, people give the best of themselves."
After several years in both the private and public sectors, Juan decided to pursue a joint degree with HBS and the Kennedy School to expand his ability to coordinate multiple interests. "I’ve always wanted an MBA because I see myself as part of the business world. But my experience in the public sector showed me that there were many things I didn’t understand well—civil society is a really, really complex space. That’s why I'm pursuing this joint degree, not only because of my intellectual curiosity, but because I expect to have future involvement in society not only through business but also through civil organizations, NGOs, and maybe through government again."
On campus, Juan's wife, Cecilia Vial, is collaborating with other entrepreneurs on a media enterprise for Latin American women. Juan admits his own ambitions are currently less precise. Ultimately, the couple plans to return to Chile. When asked about running for political office, Juan's answer is clear: "I don’t think so, that scares me a little bit. I don’t see a very clear path immediately after school, but I value the exploration phase I'm in now. I'm talking with so many people, with companies that come on campus, and I’m getting really excited about so many alternatives that can come after graduation."