The dual citizen left his family real estate business in the Philippines to start a career in the U.S. tech sector

Fitz Ignacio

Fitz Ignacio (MBA’20) jokes that he came to business school because of a quarter life crisis. The dual citizen joined his family’s real estate business in the Philippines straight out of college, and worked his way up from a clerk to the Corporate Director & Head of Sales and Marketing. But after six and half years, he realized that he didn’t actually know what kind of career he wanted for himself.

“(Working for my family business) was amazing because I learned so many skills in such a short amount of time…but then I felt I was turning into my dad, and there was nowhere else for me to go except to continue on this path,” Ignacio said. “I had been there six and half years before I realized I was living my dad’s dream…I actually didn’t know what I wanted.”

Ignacio was born in the U.S. (though he spent most of his life in the Philippines), so he decided to move to the U.S., attend business school, and find a job here. Since he was leaving essentially his entire life behind, he looked for a school that was warm and welcoming, and Owen’s message of personal scale really resonated with him during his campus visit.

“I was moving halfway across the world, making one of the biggest, if not the biggest, decisions of my life,” he said. “I was literally coming here alone, so I needed a school that would nurture me and help me grow (into the) person who I envision myself to be.”

Ignacio visits a site in Ayuthaya, Thailand

After setting foot on campus, Ignacio didn’t wait long to start forging ahead on his new career. He began recruiting in Mod I, and in late September he attended the National Black MBA Association Conference, where he met with potential employers. At the conference, he was immediately drawn to T-Mobile due to its pioneering 5G networks and CEO’s unconventional approach to business. The T-Mobile recruiter put him on the interview fast-track, and Ignacio signed the internship offer in October.

With an internship in hand and more than half a year of business school under his belt, Ignacio says that he’s beginning to feel at home both at Owen and in Nashville. “No one knew anyone, so everyone was here to find new relationships…that experience was very invigorating,” he says. “I’d say my world has grown a thousand-fold.”

Ignacio has gotten close to many sea creatures during his dives, such as this sea turtle

One thing that Ignacio does miss in landlocked Tennessee: the ocean. Growing up in a nation of islands, he’s spent most of his life around the ocean, and says that he “belongs” in the water. He is a SCUBA diving aficionado and a certified rescue diver, and says he has touched twelve and half sharks so far while diving. “The reason why there’s one half is that I didn’t touch it, it touched me,” he explains with a grin.

“There’s just something about the water that really fascinates me,” he continues. “We understand most of what’s going on up here on land…but underwater, you are at the complete mercy of and very vulnerable to the beauty of Mother Nature.”

Diving is hardly Ignacio’s only hobby: He’s also an avid marathon runner and competitive swimmer, and planned to train for a triathlon before coming to business school. While he has put those plans on pause while at Owen, he still hopes to run an Ironman one day. “I just like challenging myself all the time,” he says.

Ignacio rests by the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko in Japan

Ignacio is also a seasoned world traveler, having visited 26 or 27 countries so far (he’s lost exact count). He traveled often for business while working for his family’s company, and has also made plenty of trips for fun, including a run down to Cabo, Mexico over winter break to go diving. Some of his favorite places he has visited so far include Japan, Kenya, Italy, and Indonesia. “Human connection all around the world is what makes me really appreciate traveling,” he says.

When it comes to either geography or a full-time job, Ignacio doesn’t know what his long-term career holds yet. But for now, he’s looking forward to traveling whenever he can, starting his internship, and continuing to shape his identity during his time at business school.  “I want to make a career here and figure out who Fitz is,” he says.

Want to learn more about getting an MBA at Vanderbilt Business? Visit the program page or request more information.

The Vanderbilt MBA - Invest In Your Career Today