“What I really love about these sectors is how they connect people and generate opportunity.”

Will Saborio, WG’18, G’18, came to Wharton not just for a business education, but also to gain insight and access to Latin America through the Lauder Latin America Program. Although born and raised in New Orleans, Will’s family hails from Nicaragua.

He began school as a child in New Orleans without knowing any English, and later earned an undergraduate degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Will then became a strategy consultant at Deloitte in Washington, DC, and a venture capital investor in Mexico City.

At the same time he was following a traditional consulting career path, he was pursuing a social venture in Nicaragua, developing a business around whey, a dairy byproduct.

“I’m a first generation American living in the U.S.,” Will said. “So personally it has a lot significance for me to work in these countries where there’s a lot of opportunity.”

Testing a Business Hypothesis

Will thought he could build a company and make a difference in Nicaraguan agriculture.

“It didn’t go necessarily as I expected it to,” Will said. “There was way more paper work, way more difficulty in bringing in key stakeholders than I would have assumed.”

Eventually he was forced to put the project aside, but it wasn’t wasted effort.

“A startup or any kind of venture is basically a hypothesis about how the world works, or how a particular offering or customer segment operates in the world. Then you test that idea,” Will explained. “I still learned a tremendous amount through the process, not only about myself and about agriculture in Nicaragua and starting companies, but also about what leadership is. Once you are having really difficult conversations with partners and potential customers, you get a sense of what it means to lead. So it was a tremendous learning experience and I would have to say my proudest accomplishment was a big failure.”

Will came to Wharton and Lauder to ensure that his next one would have a happier ending.

“The Wharton-Lauder program offers the best of both worlds in terms of being able to equip me with the right business skills to lead an organization as well as the intercultural skills that Lauder offers that will enable me to better work across borders,” he said. “It’s such an important part of business in the 21st century.

He’s already taken part of the Lauder international immersion.

“We spent eight weeks traveling around Latin America and that consisted of visits to Peru, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. In that time we spent a lot of time in the classroom learning about the region, about the economic opportunities that are in each of these countries, but also perfecting our Spanish skills,” he said. “I’m not necessarily looking to go directly into Latin America after graduation, I’d love to be able to be a business leader in the region however many years down the line, when an opportunity presents itself.”

Getting Ready for What’s Next

Now deep into his fixed core courses, Will is taking MGMT 801: Entrepreneurship, a requirement for the entrepreneurial management major he is considering.

“I want to be transitioning away from the consulting world towards the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he said. “I’m really interested in telecommunications and technology. I’d love to be involved in that ecosystem either from an investing perspective or from a startup perspective.”

Will has plenty of ideas.

“What I really love about these sectors is how, at their core, they connect people and generate opportunity for them – an entrepreneur with a crazy idea, a kid using his school’s high-speed internet to learn more about physics, or a farmer in Africa using his phone’s 3G connection to prepare his crops for increased rainfall,” he said.  “I’ve been talking with a few of my classmates and potentially we could launch something in the next semester or two. I’ll keep you posted.”

 

Posted: November 10, 2016