CA State U, Physics, 2008
Highstar Capital LP; Goldman Sachs & Co. Merchant Banking Division/Investment Banking
Section J Leadership & Values Rep, Private Equity Club
"I've always been a left-brain, right-brain person," Juan Pablo "JP" Moncayo says of his parallel interests in music (trombone and voice) versus science and politics. When he left his home town of Quito, Ecuador for college at California State University, Fresno, JP chose to study physics "because it was the most daunting challenge I came across." But he couldn't repress his other interests. "I loved physics, but I realized I wanted to work with people on things with a more practical impact."
JP extended his scholarship for an additional two years to study finance. To make things even more complicated, he ran for and won the top office in student government. "It was crazy," JP says. "I was completing my physics degree, completing an entirely new major, and working full time as student body president." Somehow, he managed to squeeze in yet another commitment by participating in Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), a nonprofit that connects college students from nontraditional backgrounds with internships on Wall Street. JP got a summer internship at UBS, then parlayed the experience into a full time role at Goldman Sachs.
The perfect transition to a new career path
Following the advice of SEO mentors, JP visited HBS in 2007. "I fell in love with the campus," he says. "I thought the case method made sense. Having served on corporate boards at school, I experienced firsthand the dynamics of having to make decisions with conviction, but without all the necessary information."
As he worked his way up at Goldman, from banking to private equity, HBS remained in the back of his mind. Finally, in 2013, JP realized "it was now or never. Through PE, I knew I was interested in consumer retail investing, and was convinced that business school would be a great place for making the transition."
At HBS, JP has "met people I'm close to I wouldn't have met if I hadn't come here, friends from regions and professional and personal backgrounds I wouldn't have been exposed to." Taking these connections to another level, JP become the Leadership & Values representative for his section. "I love helping teams thrive," he says. On the one-to-one level, JP likes looking up classmates through their class cards, finding colleagues who have worked at companies he's interested in. "I invite them for coffee and we chat—it's the most valuable way to get lots of info. One of the two job positions I'm considering now came from one of these chats."
"I'm a huge proponent of the softer stuff that happens here," JP says. "It was unclear how one experiences diversity at HBS. But it truly is a hallmark of this experience. We all bring different identities to the table and learn about them through very intimate conversations. I don't drink, and I'm proud to have been open about being gay at work in a fairly conservative industry. And it has been so nice to share that and other aspects of my identity—I'm always able to be who I am." In fact, his classmates nominated JP for "My Take," a public speaking forum in which students share their stories. "I told mine to around 200 people. It was super powerful, a real way to share and hopefully create dialogue around topics people may have not thought about before. And I've learned so much from others when they shared their stories as well."