Technology Professional Trades the Tropics for Bitter Cold in Pursuit of Career Growth | Technological Leadership Institute
"Every time I Googled Minnesota, the only pictures I saw were cold and full of snow!"
A few years ago, Colombian citizen Federico Moreno Vásquez had never even heard of the state of Minnesota. But in 2013, an Internet search led him to the University of Minnesota Technological Leadership Institute (TLI) Master of Science in Management of Technology (MOT) degree. Vásquez was working as a product manager and trying to find ways to further his education so he could help improve the Colombian technology industry.
“Colombia has been very influenced by U.S. culture due to its political and economic relationships, so I had an idea of the country and its reputation in terms of graduate education, specifically for management programs. However, I only had in mind the most famous states like California, Florida, Texas and Colorado when I started my universities research,” explains Vásquez. “Latin America is experiencing a technology revolution, and there are many opportunities in the IT sector. I wanted to go back to school because I felt like my career was missing elements of management, finance, sales and product development.”
A year after discovering TLI, Vásquez moved to Minnesota to join the MOT cohort of 2016.
“MOT was special because there’s a science component that you don’t get with an MBA. The classes have strong leadership, strategic technological analysis, and technology foresight components. Plus, the TLI professors are VPs, CEOs and well-recognized industry leaders. The quality of the faculty is hard to find anywhere else.”
Vásquez came to TLI on a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, an exchange program between the United States and more than 150 other countries, including Colombia. Vásquez was selected after completing a rigorous year-long application process that included testing, interviewing and writing essays about his work experience, academic interests and career plans. Approximately 4,000 foreign students receive Fulbright scholarships to pursue education in the United States each year.
“The goal is to find people who will return home after studying in the U.S. and apply the knowledge they’ve learned to enhance their own country’s economic development,” Vásquez explains.
Now, Vásquez is doing just that in his home country of Colombia, through his work for one of the final courses in the program: the MOT capstone. For his project, Vásquez assessed the growth opportunities for Colombian Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) that do businesses in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector.
“I wanted to explore this topic because SMEs represent about 96 percent of Colombian enterprises. However, those companies have scarce resources, and most of SMEs lack business capacity to identify competitive solutions to satisfy the ICT market needs,” says Vásquez. “I identified opportunities where SME managers should focus their resources and organizational strategies so they can improve their competitiveness in the Colombian ICT market. I believe this is key in the context of a developing country like Colombia.”
At the end of his project, Vásquez was able to identify five promising markets, 17 ICT strategic solutions, 39 business opportunities and four key management strategies for Colombian SMEs. His work will be published in the Fulbright National Library, and he will present his findings at universities and government organizations throughout Colombia.
Vásquez was one of approximately 80 Fulbright Scholars at the University of Minnesota during his time at TLI, and says he appreciated the strong, supportive community of international students on campus.
After graduating with his Master of Science in Management of Technology degree in April 2016, Vásquez is back in Colombia with several job offers to resume working in the country’s IT sector. Looking ahead, Vásquez says he enjoyed the entrepreneurship aspect of the MOT program and wants to explore a career in technology management consulting.
Whatever the future may bring, Vásquez says what he took away from the MOT degree program will help him throughout the rest of his career, including making valuable connections with other professionals and gaining greater global perspective through the International Management of Technology Project.
“It’s a complete master’s degree. It was the best two years of my life.”
The 21-month M.S. in Management of Technology degree gives local and international students like Vásquez the tools to lead the global technology industry. If you’re interested in taking your technology career to the next level, request information.
MOT was special because there’s a science component that you don’t get with an MBA. The classes have strong leadership, strategic technological analysis, and technology foresight components. Plus, the TLI professors are VPs, CEOs and well-recognized industry leaders. The quality of the faculty is hard to find anywhere else.