Business from Bolivia
Eduardo a thoughtful leader of Mississippi College business school
Mississippi is home to many fine colleges and universities, and I’m always interested in learning more about those who are shaping tomorrow’s leaders. I recently had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Marcelo Eduardo, the dean of the School of Business at Mississippi College. He shared with me his unique journey to arrive in his current position. A native of La Paz, Bolivia, Eduardo grew up with aspirations of being a professional tennis player. He applied to numerous U.S. colleges for a tennis scholarship. He shared, “I had graduated from high school in November, which is the normal graduation date in that part of the world, and I was baffled that no one would give me a scholarship for the following January- such was my naiveté about college athletics and when scholarships are granted.” However, Delta State University had a player leave mid-season, so they provided him a scholarship, which he accepted sight unseen.
Once he was at Delta State, he realized that he was unlikely to make it in professional tennis, but he discovered that he enjoyed school and the study of business. He earned a degree in economics and stayed on to earn his MBA while coaching the women’s tennis team. While earning his master’s degree, Eduardo also began to teach some classes and learned that “I really loved explaining and illustrating concepts, theories and applications.” He then followed his calling by obtaining a Ph.D. in finance from Ole Miss. His wife-to-be, Kay, worked in Jackson, so he applied and accepted a position teaching finance in the School of Business at Mississippi College. Eduardo stayed at MC as a professor and was later appointed dean where he continues to serve today. During his 10 year tenure as dean, the School of Business has increased its enrollment by 50 percent and now has over 1,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The MBA program has grown to be the second largest in the state. He noted, “I believe that our growth is the result of our ability to offer the type and the quality of business programs that are needed in the marketplace.” He went on to say, “One of our most significant successes in the past three years has been the total renovation of our facilities and the remaking of Self Hall into a state-of-the art facility that provides our students with a dynamic learning environment that is second to none in the state.”
Eduardo’s view of leadership is that at its essence, “leadership is about getting things accomplished through other people.” To do this, he points to two essential traits. First, he believes that you have to understand and be comfortable with your own self. In other words, you need to have clarity about your own beliefs, values, and motivations. Further, you need to be sensitive to how your actions and behaviors impact others. I have similarly found that great leaders are not afraid to look in the mirror and truly understand who they are. Otherwise, we are prone to deceive ourselves which ultimately results in leadership and organizational failure.
The second trait he pointed to was “to make sure that what is being accomplished has a purpose and outcome that is ultimately consistent with all of those in the process.” These two traits are connected as the goal of a leader is “to find the strategic point of convergence where your interests as a leader and the people you are leading are intertwined.” While there is no magic formula for enhancing these traits, Eduardo does point to continual learning as an important step in the process. Being an avid reader and seeking out successful mentors are ways to further develop these traits.
Eduardo notes that his team at the School of Business has as its mission “producing graduates that have a very sound understanding of business principles and apply them in an ethical manner.” This values-based approach emphasizes not only skills but also building leaders of good character who will positively impact their families, workplaces, and communities. No doubt, we will all benefit in this state from the quality students that Dr. Eduardo and his faculty are training to be tomorrow’s leaders.
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