Interview 1: Xavier Echegaray

Xavier Echegaray (CEng, MICE, MEng Hons, UPC Barcelona Tech), INSEAD

Xavier worked in the Transportation & Infrastructure sector prior to starting his MBA at INSEAD.  He designed key infrastructure across EMEA and LATAM, and progressed to delivering multidisciplinary projects as Project Manager. In Ramboll, he led a bridge design team in High Speed 2 and advanced the business case for a highly-strategic railway project. In his last position, he advised top-tier contractors in the development of innovative modular construction solutions and in the delivery of tenders for £100m+ infrastructure schemes. Xavier also initiated and directed several charitable initiatives, including the construction of 3 bridges in Africa to combat rural isolation.

What do you hope to achieve through your MBA experience?
An MBA is an opportunity to redefine yourself professionally, and in my case, I hope to pivot my career from engineering consulting to infrastructure investing. Working with private capital will enable me to address some of the industry’s most pressing challenges, as investors are increasingly willing to implement new technologies that will de-risk projects, optimise delivery and operation and open new markets and revenue streams. These technologies, known as InfraTech, will be crucial to boost the infrastructure industry’s productivity and accelerate the energy transition. Through the MBA, I hope to gain a well-rounded and sound business skill set that will prepare me for the next steps in my career.

How will you use your MBA to further your career?
An MBA will enable me to gain relevant skills in finance and strategy and learn about subjects such as entrepreneurship, venture capital and private equity, which will prove crucial to materialise my ambitions. Business school will also be a safe space to hone my communication, negotiation and leadership skills, which will become increasingly relevant in the long term.  Beyond academics, a very important part of my learning will come from my fellow students, who will broaden my perspective and prepare me to operate in a highly diverse environment.  Furthermore, at INSEAD I will gain access to one of the largest MBA alumni networks in the world, an invaluable asset that will accompany me for the rest of my career.

When did you start thinking about doing an MBA?
Since the start of my career, I have been very curious to explore ways in which to improve the delivery of large infrastructure schemes, from planning through to construction and operation.  Early on, I realised that commercial and financial aspects were key drivers in decision-making and this is when I first started considering an MBA as means to better understand and influence these.

Shortly after becoming chartered, I learned about infrastructure investing and how private capital will play a key role in bridging the ~£11tn funding gap that the world will face to meet its infrastructure needs in the next 20 years. I understood that working with private equity firms presented a unique opportunity to drive innovation and implement sustainable solutions in the infrastructure industry, and that an MBA would be the next natural step to pivot my career into that space.

What did you learn by going through the scholarship application process?
The application process was a fantastic opportunity to put down in words the thought process I underwent in deciding to do an MBA.  It forced me to revisit and stress-test the logic behind my short and long-term professional goals, and most importantly, how the MBA fit into my plans.  Deciding to go to business school involves a significant personal and financial commitment, so for me, the application process was a way of reassuring myself that I had a sound professional roadmap and was on the right track.

What tip would you give to someone seeking financial support to do an MBA?
Firstly, I would say that there are many more financial support options available than one would initially think! There are many institutions that recognise the value that business education brings to society, and it is just a matter of finding the one which best aligns with your background, interests and vision.  Once identified, speak to scholars to understand the process and learn how to submit a strong application. Even if the process is highly competitive, don’t be intimidated; a genuine, compelling and well-articulated motivation can go a long way.

What are your expectations of being part of the SMF network after business school?
One thing that became clear when I spoke to previous SMF awardees was that I would greatly enjoy connecting with the wider SMF network. Being able to discuss shared passions, the latest industry trends and challenges with like-minded and highly accomplished individuals is something I value highly.  I also hope that in connecting with the SMF community I will be able to find inspiring mentors who can help me navigate the complexities of my chosen career path.  In the long term, I believe the SMF community will also be an important source of industry-specific knowledge and talent for potential new ventures.

How do you hope to support SMF after you graduate from business school? 
Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to receive support from various mentors who have provided me with exceptional development opportunities.  I hope to pass on the favour by mentoring young engineers and supporting SMF initiatives that will open doors for talented professionals.  I also look forward to promoting the SMF and EIBF through its activities and, in this way, help attract top talent to the engineering industry.

You can find  Xavier Echegaray on LinkedIn

Find out how to apply for a scholarship.

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