Mexico City, Mexico
Harvard College, Economics, 2009
Credit Suisse Securities; BBVA Bancomer
Harvard LatAm Club, Entrepreneurship Club, Government & Public Policy Club, Soccer Club
Durango is a small town in Mexico, but that didn't stop Sebastian Velasco's mother from starting a paper and packaging manufacturing business there with her brothers. "She was one of the few women there who studied in college and worked—she was the company's CFO, very unusual for a woman," says Sebastian. "When I was a baby, my mom took me to her office. I have pictures of me there when I was four, five months old."
Sebastian spent his after-school hours in her office. "When I got older, she explained what she was doing: investor relations, mergers and acquisitions, pursuing capital, debt management. She took me on business trips to New York City; I got to know what the business world was like."
The combination of his mother's influence and their business trips together led to Sebastian's first big ambition: to work on Wall Street in finance. The second involved college. "I told my middle school principal my dream was to go to Harvard. He laughed," Sebastian says. "He said that coming from such a small city in Mexico, it would be impossible. While I was disappointed, it also encouraged me to work harder."
Sebastian did go to Harvard where he graduated cum laude in economics, a degree that not only reflected his interest in finance, but would help him "understand the root causes of corruption, inequality, and under-development." After graduation, he spent six years with Credit Suisse advising companies on M&A, capital raising and debt issuance, "basically, the other side of what my mother had been doing."
Extending deep connections
An MBA had long been in Sebastian's plans. HBS was his top choice because of his undergraduate experience and his desire for "more of what the school offers: an incredible group of peers with diverse backgrounds, interactions with experienced faculty and world leaders, and the ability to further develop a network of friendships that will be very important in my future."
The most amazing part of his first year, Sebastian says, was a trip to Namibia. "A section mate from Namibia organized it for us. She expected ten to twelve people—she got seventy! For several months, she worked hard to pull it together. When we got there, we had a conference with Namibia's first lady and business leaders who talked about the state of business in Africa and Namibia. For a week, we visited different cities, saw unbelievable scenery, and went on a safari."
The experience was so rewarding Sebastian will lead a similar trip to Mexico for his colleagues next year. "I'm planning on about fifty people for one week, to show them the social, cultural, and economic aspects of the country."
For the summer, Sebastian will consult with McKinsey in Mexico City, where he hopes to work on projects with "energy, infrastructure and public sector components. In a few years I want to become more involved in Mexico's public sector, and use what I've learned to foster development in my country."