Home Region

Houston, TX

Undergrad Education

Stanford University, Electrical Engineering, 2012

Previous Experience

Chevron Corporation

HBS Activities

Energy & Environment Club, Latino Student Organization (LASO), Section I Admissions Rep

“The full-time experience would help me pivot.”

Julio Cedeno was born in Texas just months after his mother and father (originally from Mexico and Venezuela respectively) arrived in the United States from Venezuela. As the oldest among a generation of siblings and cousins, Julio was encouraged to do well in school. With a fondness for math and physics, he attended Stanford for college. "I thought I'd major in either subject, but the courses were more theoretical than I liked," Julio says. "Electrical engineering was more practical and built upon my strengths." In addition to acquiring his bachelor's in engineering, Julio met his wife, Sarah, at the university. After graduation, they moved to Houston where Julio began a six-year tenure with Chevron.

Balancing act of work, marriage, and education

Julio had interned with Chevron between his junior and senior years, contributing to its R&D cybersecurity team. "I really enjoyed the people and the lifestyle of frequent international travel," he says. "Signing on with Chevron was a no-brainer."

At this point, "business school was on the radar, but I thought I'd go part-time while continuing to progress at Chevron." Meanwhile, Sarah pursued her MBA at Yale. "When I saw the quality of connections Sarah made at Yale, it made me rethink my approach."

Balancing work and marriage also provoked reflection. While Sarah was at Yale, Julio was on assignment in Australia. "It was a difficult time," Julio says. "And I realized that advancing at Chevron would mean even more long-distance."

Julio continued exploring his options by participating in Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a nonprofit that helps underrepresented minority candidates navigate the business school admissions process. "We were required to interview alumni and current students as part of our research," he explains. He spoke to two to four people from each of the eight schools that interested him. "The first thing that tipped me toward HBS was hearing from two different MLT alums who spoke about how the case method forced them to speak up and get out of their comfort zones, something I thought I could really benefit from as well."

Finally, Julio realized that while suspending his career for two years "had a lot of costs, I saw that the full-time experience would help me pivot – it would give me more options and flexibility to help Sarah and I align with each other's careers."

As he fulfills the second semester of his RC year, Julio remains convinced that "the case method is the most distinctive thing about HBS. You have to learn how to defend yourself and how to change your mind, how to push back and disagree, yet still get along after class. I'm learning from many more perspectives, and each time I speak up I become more confident, more articulate."

Sarah works in Boston and lives with Julio on campus, and Julio is helping others – as he was helped – by serving as the Latino Student Organization's (LASO) co-vice president of admissions. "My philosophy is to say ‘yes' to everything," Julio says. "I prioritize people – speaking to prospective students, going to as many social events as possible, whether it's just lunch together or an international trip. I'll sort out sleep later!"