Kyle Perez (Class of 2017) on Darden’s Global Academic Programs
By Lauren Wallace
Kyle Perez, a second year residential MBA student at Darden, is originally from northern New Jersey. He received his B.A. in Philosophy with a minor in Music from Middlebury College in 2009 and previously worked in private equity and financial services, with a focus in derivative valuation and structuring. Kyle is currently studying at La Universidad Austral in Buenos Aires, Argentina as part of an exchange program with Darden. At Darden, Kyle has been involved with the Soccer Club and Music Club as Vice-President in addition to writing cases for the Finance Department while at Darden, and has taken a few minutes to share his reflections on some of his global experiences.
Kyle Perez has participated in a variety of global academic experiences while at Darden, including studying on exchange in Argentina this quarter at La Universidad Austral. Even before attending Darden, Kyle had researched Darden’s exchange programs and knew he wanted to go on exchange in Argentina. He has since travelled to China, Switzerland, India, South Africa, Kenya, and Japan during his time as a Darden student. International travel opportunities and a focus on global business were important factors for Kyle in choosing an MBA program, so alongside his desire for a smaller school with a tight-knit community atmosphere, Darden was an easy choice. “I wanted a smaller school with more of a community-feel, and Darden felt more welcoming and genuine than any other MBA school I visited. The kindness I experienced at Darden really went a long way.”
After graduating from Middlebury, Kyle jumped head-first into the business world by doing consulting for a private equity firm in 2009. Over the next five years, Kyle had gained experiences working in private equity, the derivatives market, product management, and start-up investments when he decided to pursue an MBA degree. He had heard great reviews of Darden from high school friends and alumni, and the welcoming spirit and genuine kindness of the students and faculty he had met during his visit to Darden had a lasting impact on him. Now over a year into his Darden experience, Kyle foresees his future working in global business operations and management.
Kyle’s first international trip through Darden was the Kaizen program in Japan, and it remains his favorite global Darden experience yet. “It was a wake-up call of putting what I learned from Darden to work,” explained Kyle. Kaizen is Japanese for continuous improvement, aptly-named for these trips which are designed to give students the opportunity to work alongside company employees in another country to study and maximize the efficiency of designated processes in a week’s time. Admitting that he wasn’t the best student in his first-year operations courses, Kyle understood in a practical way how useful and effective operations could be in a real world practical system after his Kaizen experience. “Elliott Weiss was my first-year Operations professor and he also happened to lead the Kaizen program I went on. After leveraging what I learned in his class for the Kaizen project and seeing how useful and effective Ops actually could be, I just had to thank Elliott Weiss.”
Since this experience in Japan in March 2016, Kyle has participated in a Darden.Worldwide. Course in China (May 2016), a summer internship with Danaher Corporation (June-August 2016), and the exchange program in Buenos Aires (Oct.-Dec. 2016) in which he is currently participating, and he has signed up for another upcoming Darden.Worldwide. Course in South Africa in March 2017.
Not only was Kyle’s summer internship with Danaher the most worldwide—spanning four continents and travelling seven of the 11-week stint—it also proved to be the most challenging, yet worthwhile, of his global experiences. “It was a wholly unique experience and definitely changed my perspective on international business,” he describes, “specifically the opportunities available to international businesses and the difficulties they face when trying to pursue emerging market opportunities.”
As an intern for Danaher, Kyle was placed within an emerging markets project team that took him to rural cities across India, South Africa and Kenya. Their team’s objective was to assess the feasibility of scaling down a large blood diagnostic machine while making it more affordable and accessible in these emerging markets. Kyle met with healthcare providers and salespeople from these markets to discuss creative solutions and strategic alternatives while assessing whether Danaher should pursue a business venture in that market. He explains, “You always hear ‘Emerging markets are the future, they’re out there’, and so on and so forth, and yes, there is so much opportunity in terms of sheer numbers; but, how do you maintain your investors’ interests in an emerging market with less profitability? The opportunity is there but it’s not easy. Until you start getting your hands dirty it’s a lot more difficult to solve in reality.”
Kyle’s Darden experience is indefinable without his global experiences therein. He eventually wants to work for a company with a global footprint so that he can leverage his global Darden experiences and knowledge to have an international impact. “Adaptability is invaluable,” Kyle explains, “to be successful enough to launch a new product globally and across regional boundaries, you really need to understand your end customers. This is an extremely valuable skill to translate into the future.”
After he graduates from Darden, Kyle will relocate to Colorado where he has accepted a position with Hach Company, a subsidiary of Danaher Corporation, whose mission is to ensure water quality for people around the world.