Just before Christmas and New Year holidays, I had the opportunity of interviewing Francisco Padilla, current student of GMIF, despite his very busy year-end schedule at work, between board meetings at the company and study sessions of GMIF program. Francisco holds a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering from Purdue University (U.S), an MBA from Universidad Católica de Chile, and has 10 years of professional experience in finance area before joining IE´s GMIF program. He is currently working as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at CREDIQ, GrupoQ – a leading vehicle distributor in Central America.
Francisco at GMIF Opening Ceremony
Viet Ha: Hi Francisco, I greatly appreciate your time for the interview, can you tell us briefly about yourself?
Francisco: Hello Viet Ha, pleasure talking to you once again. First of all thank you for having me. As for myself, I am 35 years old, married for almost 6 years now and father of two, a 1 year old baby girl and a 3 year old boy. I was born and raised in El Salvador, Central America. I consider myself ambitious and driven. I think we define our own boundaries: it is all about attitude, perseverance and dedication. I also enjoy good movies, a good day at the golf course or a nice motorcycle ride.
Viet Ha: I see you are working as Chief Financial Officer at CREDIQ, can you tell me a little bit about your current position and perhaps also a bit about your professional background?
Francisco: My undergraduate academic background is in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University (U.S) in 2001 and I believe this field of studies provided me with the critical thinking in order to view all aspects of running a company as a process and to find ways of improving that process. I started my career in Logistics area and I occupied the Regional Logistics Manager role for the largest department store chain (Almacenes Siman) in Central America. In 2005, I realized that I required additional tools in the finance areas in order to better manage the impact of these processes and that is why I opted for an MBA at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile to better complement my skills set and to move forward within my career. From there, I went to become the Strategic Development Senior Project Leader and later, Corporate Finance – Aircraft Leasing Manager for TACA Airlines, which recently merged to become AVIANCA. In 2008 I became the Finance and Operations Director for a Special Purpose Finance Vehicle for the Caribbean, focusing on real estate development, before moving up in 2010 to become Portfolio & Analysis Head – Retail Banking of Citibank El Salvador. After 18 months, I was offered my current position as CFO of CrediQ, a financial institution that originated as the financial arm of GrupoQ, a leading vehicle distributor in Central America, overseeing Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador. At CrediQ, among other duties, I am in charge of defining appropriate funding strategies at the regional level in order to provide the correct amount of funding at the correct costs in order to optimize our resources and obtain the projected profitability. I also lead the local commercial paper and international short-term notes program, which has become a strategic source of funding, and also the budgeting and accounting processes at each individual country and the ongoing follow-up of the company’s performance.
GMIF OPENING 2014
Viet Ha: Can you tell us why you chose IE´s Global Master in Finance? What is it about the GMIF that appealed to you and what are your expectations towards this program?
Francisco: I first became interested in IE´s GMIF program after investigating many different programs available in the market. From IE’s website to extensive research on different reviews and blogs, to strong recommendations from friends who are alumni; I believe that I had gained a profound understanding and thorough appreciation of the program. I consider that the program’s strength lies in its focus on enhancing students’ intellectual and interpersonal skills through academic excellence and numerous options to expose students to real-world experiences and leadership opportunities. IE is an internationally recognized institution with world-class professors whose focus and structure (blended) is aligned with my current needs. Furthermore, IE’s focus on a collaborative culture and community will provide me a strong network of like-minded “next-generation” leaders. In short, IE best prepares students to become skilled world leaders.
Viet Ha: How did the first month of the GMIF 2014 go? So far, what is it about that program that you like the most?
Francisco: It has been a great experience so far. I had the chance to meet great classmates and great faculty who are leading capital markets professionals. I even had the chance to sit down with two of the professors and get their advice on different subjects; which shows me know the level of faculty that is teaching in the program. The level of depth and analysis in each course has been very appropriate and I have learned so much in just a short period of time, thus I cannot wait to see the level of expertise I will gain by the time I am done with the program.
Viet Ha: How do you find the blended methodology? How do you coordinate group assignments with members who are living in different time zones?
GMIF OPENING 2014 064
Francisco: I am very lucky to be part of a well-diversified group of classmates, geographically and professionally. Because of this, we all knew from the beginning that the coordination would be a challenge that we needed to figure out.
I think the IE Management Team is well aware of this challenge and, therefore, tries to facilitate the process by assigning the first-period groups based on time-zones, which I believe, in our case, has been a key factor of success. Of course, you must bear in mind that part of a top Master Program such as the GMIF is exchanging experiences and knowledge between classmates, to generate discussions and to learn from different points of view, and to better potentiate that process, groups change during the course of the program, providing you with the ability to strengthen personal relations with all your classmates.
For us, the coordination has been very smooth, mainly due to the level of commitment of our group and because none of us wants to miss a group session and the discussions that are held. The topics of our assignments have been very interesting and in my case because of the diversified group I am part of, there is always someone with a strong background on a specific topic and you want to listen and learn from his/her experience.
As part of the GMIF and a blended structure, we all are aware that in some cases due to professional or personal matters or as pointed out before – a different time-zone, one or more members will not be able to meet, and that is something that we all understand and we all try to manage in the best way possible.
From the face-to-face sessions held in Madrid, we all agreed to pre-define meeting schedules, it varies sometimes, based on the workload, but we try to meet at least once or twice per week.
Viet Ha: How are you coordinating your studies with your full time job and family?
Francisco: A top Master program requires and demands some sort of sacrifice. My kids are only 3 and 1 respectively so it is even harder since I want to spend more time with them at this stage, however, I do understand that this sacrifice will finally pay off for my whole family. I have established a schedule where I study during the nights and very early in the morning, allowing me to spend more time with my family during the day and over the weekend. As any other change in your current schedule, it is just a matter of committing to it and getting used to it. I have been on this schedule for around two months now and it is not impossible, it requires some dedication and sacrifice, but that is part of obtaining a top Master’s degree. I am very happy and honored to be part of the program since it is structured in a way that allows you to study in a balanced way, once you figure out the best schedule for you. I wouldn’t change my decision of opting for the GMIF program.
Viet Ha : Do you have any advice for future candidates of the Global Master in Finance?
Francisco: If you are looking for THE top Master’s program led by experienced and successful practitioners and professors, which allows you to keep on working, look no further and apply for the IE Global Master in Finance. Talk to the IE team and get a grasp of the program and its faculty, and if possible get in touch with a current GMIF student, so they can furnish you with m ore details about their experience, I am sure I am still falling short with all the benefits that the GMIF can provide. For me, it is an Honor to be part of the GMIF and the IE.
Welcome Party for Executive Programs
Viet Ha: Thank you very much Francisco for your time for sharing with us your experience with the GMIF program, and I wish you a very successful 2015 ahead!