University of California, Riverside

UCR Business

Alumni Profile: Jorge Marquez (MBA 2005)

Riverside gave me the tools to understand all of these subjects, the basis to go in deep detail if needed, and the foundation to take my career to places I could not without this degree.

Jorge Marquez (MBA 2005) is a modern-day Renaissance man. As a mechanical engineer, he can explain how a complicated industrial gas turbine and compressor works. And with his MBA from the UC Riverside Anderson Graduate School of Business, he can also explain the market forces that help Solar Turbines — a designer and manufacturer of industrial gas turbines and gas compressors — become a crucial division of Caterpillar Corporation, bucking a worldwide recession that had slowed growth in the heavy construction sector.

Marquez grew up in Mexicali, Mexico and earned his undergraduate degree from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in Mexico. He was working at a consulting engineering design firm in the Inland Empire when he began to search for a graduate program in management.

“Getting a master’s degree after a few years of experience was part of my plan before finishing my undergrad,” he recalled. “I wanted to balance my engineering background with something broader that would increase my marketability. At the same time, I was looking at a degree from a brand with international recognition. The UC system was a natural choice.”

Marquez began the program in 2002 as a part-time student, but after two years he moved into the full-time program. The move allowed him to “experience the life of a full-time student,” including working as a teaching assistant, which he described as an “awesome experience.”

He cited the variety of backgrounds of the UCR faculty as one of the strongest aspects of the program.

“We had some excellent professors who spent most of their lives in academia; others were seasoned industry knowledge workers that came from leading organizations. We even had one lecturer that worked directly for Steve Jobs,” he said. “I believe all the professors, lecturers and instructors had a special experience or piece of knowledge that could enrich us, and our job as students was to explore what we could draw from each.”

After graduating, Marquez joined Solar Turbines as a project manager, where he was instantly able to put his newly-learned strategic analysis tools to work.

“I manage engineering projects for the plant facilities,” he said. “It is a fast-paced position where I draw from my science education, my previous engineering positions and my MBA. Riverside gave me the tools to analyze projects and go beyond my particular scope to include a broad picture of the impact my project has on the macroeconomic environment.”

Marquez said his UCR education gave him the tools to thrive at Solar Turbines and, in turn, make it a better company.

“A management education teaches you look at all decisions from a business point of view and align yourself or debate courses of action as seen on the job on an everyday basis,” he said. “Many engineers execute projects based specifically on technical reasons. However, for an organization to be sustainable it is mandatory to incorporate aspects involving accounting, marketing, finance, legal and others as they relate to all operations.”

“Riverside gave me the tools to understand all of these subjects, the basis to go in deep detail if needed, and the foundation to take my career to places I could not without this degree,” he added.

For prospective and current MBA students, Marquez had some simple advice.

“Ask questions. Get involved. Take good notes and keep all your reference materials. You never know when your career takes you a particular point where you can pull those pieces of information and add value to your career, he said. “Also, you will develop a base of contacts from all over the world. Make a proactive effort to know them and keep them as reference for the future.”

This last point is perhaps the most significant one for Marquez. During his tenure at UCR he had the opportunity to meet fellow student and teaching assistant Lily Chen. That “contact” is one that will pay off for years to come, as they are to be married in May of 2010.

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