Rodolfo A. Diaz Cabello (MBA 2021) reflects on how his experiences at Harvard Business School supported his path to building new products at Spotify.

In October 2022 I joined Spotify as a Senior Product Manager leading a team that introduces younger audiences to our products through fun and interactive experiences. My friends and MBA classmates know how passionate I am about music and this role is nothing short of a dream job for me. In reflecting on my professional journey to get to this point, I wanted to share four pieces of advice for future MBA students:

#1 - Integrate your passions into your MBA experience

From the first day of my MBA, my classmates knew that I loved music and wanted to explore careers in Entertainment and Media. On the professional front, I joined the Entertainment & Media Club, became the VP of Music, and hosted panels with industry veterans to learn more about careers in the music industry. Through these events I met executives from music labels, event and music tech companies, and even top artist managers. This allowed me to have a much more nuanced point of view about the types of experiences I wanted to pursue in my summer internship and full-time career after graduation.

On the social front, I organized concert outings in Boston and embraced my DJ hobby by becoming our designated Section I DJ during retreats and hosting “Zoom parties” for my MBA class. These experiences not only energized me, but also helped me gain unique perspectives that complemented my professional efforts. Developing my own presence as a DJ on SoundCloud helped me gain a deeper understanding of the problems creators face in the industry, and the limitations of current technical solutions.

# 2 - Use elective coursework to gain a deeper understanding of your target industries

During my second year at HBS I took courses like The Business of Entertainment, Media, and Sports (BEMS) and Launching Tech Ventures (LTV) that helped me gain a profound understanding of the space I wanted to play in: the intersection of music and technology. BEMS taught me the basics of the music industry and how artists monetize through recorded music and live performances. Professor Anita Elberse further empowered me and a group of students to gain hands-on experience in the industry through an independent project that helped launch a new pop artist in Australia. Professors Jeff Bussgang, Sam Clemens, and Reza Satchu in turn taught me how to understand the critical elements that lead to the success at each of the stages in the evolution of an early-stage tech venture. Their mentorship allowed me to feel strongly equipped to jump into challenging opportunities at tech companies in any stage of growth.

#3 - Develop a network inside and outside of HBS that can support your passion

My classmates, professors, and the industry leaders I met through HBS were the final ingredient that empowered me to succeed in my journey to become a product leader at the intersection of music and technology. When I was searching for summer internships in spring 2020, these allies came to my rescue, connecting me to new mentors and opportunities. My professors, classmates, and mentors supported me after graduation, advising me on how to leverage the HBS network and its venture capital connections to land interviews with companies I was interested in, and helping me evaluate competing career opportunities. Navigating careers in tech can be incredibly difficult, particularly when joining early-stage ventures, due to the lack of structured pathways like those you would find in other industries.

#4 - Be patient and keep your eyes on your ultimate goal

I didn’t immediately land my dream job at Spotify after graduation. Instead of being disheartened, I took a short-term consulting opportunity with the music tech company Splice to re-sharpen my product skills. I then joined Cameo, a Series C tech venture in the entertainment space, as a full-time Product Manager to accelerate my growth as a product leader. These experiences ultimately helped me be a strong candidate for Spotify when the right opportunity arose.