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Heading for the Top

Volcano Climber Draws on Owen for Business Ascent

Alejo Icaza
International Financial Analyst, Vulcan Materials Company

Vanderbilt MBA 2010

Some people like challenges that aren't for the timid. Then there's Alejo Icaza, whose passion is volcano climbing. He's been to the top of 12 volcanoes in his native Nicaragua. "As you climb, the views get better, and there is always a surprise at the top," he says, "from a blue-water crater lake to a lake of lava to a sunset over the Pacific."

After working in Nicaragua and Mexico for CEMEX, one of the world's largest construction materials companies, Alejo decided to go for another summit of sorts. The variety of positions he'd held at CEMEX made him realize that what he wanted to do was manage an entire business. To build the skills he'd need-from finance to strategy to HR-he chose Owen.

His undergraduate experience at Texas A&M, a 44,000-student campus where he earned an engineering degree, made him appreciate Owen's tight-knit community and accessible professors. "Because the community is small," he says, "it's easy for students to implement new ideas."

Before joining Monsanto for an internship in finance, Alejo had taken elective courses to support his career goals, embarked on two Owen student business trips to Asia, served as coordinator for a club that builds bridges between U.S. and foreign students and helped the Peruvian team win the Owen Global Food Festival. "All in one year!" he exults.