2017 Best & Brightest: Juan Pablo Forno Parra, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Juan Pablo Forno Parra

W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University

“I’m the kind of person who risks disappointment for a chance to make a difference.”

Graduated: December 2016

Fun fact about yourself: I used to perform street magic as a teenager.

Hometown: Guatemala City, Guatemala

High School: Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala

Major: B.S. in Business Entrepreneurship

Minor: International Business Certificate

Favorite Business Courses: Business Model Development, Prototyping Leadership within Cross-Cutting Teams, Entrepreneurship and Value Creation, Global Supply Operations, and Organizational Behavior.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College

Official Leadership Roles During College:

* President (Fall 2016) of Hispanic Business Students Association
* Community Relations Director (Spring 2015 & Spring 2016) of Hispanic Business Students Association

School Awards and Honors:

* W. P. Carey School of Business Outstanding Graduating Senior (Dec 2016)
* Jose A. Ronstadt Outstanding Undergraduate Award (Fall 2016)
* W. P. Carey School of Business Student Leader of the Year (2015-2016)
* State Farm’s National Sales and Marketing Competition Platinum award (1st Place) in the       Sales, Marketing, and Overall team categories (2016)
* Cameron University Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Composition Award (Spring 2014)
* Cameron University Undergraduate Outstanding English Composition Award (Fall 2012 & Spring 2013)

* Raveed Memorial International Business Scholarship
* Dr. Olivas Hispanic Business Students Association Scholarship
* W. P. Carey Alumni Chapter Transfer Scholarship

Honor Societies
* Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society
* Golden Key National Honor Society
* Beta Gamma Sigma National Honor Society
* Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society

Community Work:

* Creator of “Dia de los Niños” event geared towards unaccompanied minors of Latin America residing in A New Leaf and Southwest Key shelters.
* Group Leader of Global Microfinance Brigade to Darien, Panama intended to teach financial literacy and business practices to those living in impoverished village.
* Creator and Co-Organizer of “Backpacking Latin America & Spain” Cultural Exposition as the closing event for Hispanic Heritage Month at Arizona State University
* Organizer and Coordinator of community service activities on behalf of the Hispanic Business Students Association for the following organizations and institutions: Habitat for Humanity, St. Mary’s Food Bank, St. Vincent De Paul, Central Arizona Shelter Service (CASS), Be A Leader Foundation, City of Tempe, Maricopa Animal Care and Control Center, Papago Elementary, Rio Salado Community College, and UMOM

Extra-Curricular Activities:

* The Hispanic Business Students Association
* El Concilio Hispanic Coalition
* Global Microfinance Brigades
* Global Business Association
* Enactus
* Global Business Association
* ASU Billiards Club
* Spark Sales Club

Where have you interned during your college career? NorthStar Alarms (Tempe, Arizona & Minneapolis, Minnesota) – Sales and Marketing door-to-door representative. I spent 11 weeks in Minnesota going door-to-door and speaking to thousands of people from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.

Describe your dream Job: A dream job for me would be one where I can constantly participate in different cross-cutting teams in developing products or managing projects that ultimately benefit people or the environment. I would like to work at a company or organization that focuses on developing people, first-and-foremost, ahead of generating profit.

Where would you like to work after graduation? If I could pick where to work, I would choose a company like IDEO or Tesla, in any department that involves project or product development. The reason why those companies interest me is because they foster innovation and seek to create meaningful impact in the world.

What are your long-term professional goals? I would like to spend most of my twenties learning how to run effective and profitable social enterprises and initiatives, as well as master the skill of working with interdisciplinary teams. Ultimately, I would like to go back to my country of Guatemala and use business to help the country with the many challenges that it faces, such as lack of education, lack of financial literacy, violence, poverty, malnutrition, etc. Because I believe that business does not have to necessarily be detached from and impact enterprise, I also plan to become financially independent by investing in passive income streams over time, in addition to my social enterprise work. I would also like to be the author of a best-selling book one day, but we’ll see if I get to that point.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? I would tell him or her that it is crucial to find ways to complement and apply their college education. Join student clubs and organizations. When you do, jump in with both feet forward and get as involved as possible — perhaps even shoot for a leadership role. Self-education through research and reading will also help you fill in the gaps and, in turn, help you identify what field fits you best.

“I knew I wanted to major in business when…I realized that we can’t rely on governments and politicians to make an impact in the world.”

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be…a designer. I appreciate excellent product design.”

“Before I entered business school, I wish I had known…about creating shared value through business.”

What was the happiest moment of your life? I don’t know if I have a “happiest moment,” but a recent happy moment took place when I was informed that I would be giving the convocation speech for the W. P. Carey School of Business as the Outstanding Graduating Senior. The award itself was not what was important to me, but after not seeing my family for years, I wanted to show them how much I appreciated everything they sacrificed to give me the opportunities in life that I have had thus far.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? As the Community Relations Director for the Hispanic Business Students Association at ASU, I had the pleasure of creating and organizing an event called “Dia De Los Niños” (Children’s Day), as a response to the vast number of unaccompanied minors entering the United States. These children, ranging from 9-17 years of age, are sent by their families, make the independent decision to come to the United States in pursuit of happiness, or flee from dangerous circumstances in their home countries. Our mission was to create an experience for these unaccompanied minors, who reside in federal care, where they can freely express themselves, learn, play, eat, and gain a sense of cultural identity all within one day. Because they have been robbed of their childhood, experienced unbelievable hardships, and endured pain that is foreign to most of us, our efforts were directed towards making them feel special and like children again. But, above all, our job was to assure that by the time we said goodbye to them, they would be left with a brighter outlook on the future.

The reason why I love this event so much is because we were able to generate major breakthroughs in children who had suffered severe emotional trauma. Knowing that they were loved and that it is okay to be a child allowed them to come to terms with their circumstances and begin the healing process. Not only that, but in the two years running this event, we were able to get around 80 volunteers involved, which led to an increase in awareness.  Some of our volunteers have even started their own initiatives to support the well-being of these children. The event has been so impactful that it was named the W. P. Carey School of Business Philanthropy Event of the Year 2015-2016.

What animal would you choose to represent your professional brand? I have always found wolves fascinating. I think they are a balance of a lot of things. They are known to move in packs, but they can also be lone wolves. They can be very fierce and aggressive when needed, but they are also known to be affectionate and loyal. I think a personal brand should also be balanced. It should send a confident and strong message, but it should also seek to be people- and impact-oriented. But most importantly, I think I would like my brand to have presence. If a wolf walks into a room, I can almost guarantee that its presence will change the feeling in the room. I read the following quote that sums ups how I feel about these animals:

“Wolf is the Grand Teacher. Wolf is the sage, who after many winters upon the sacred path and seeking the ways of wisdom, returns to share new knowledge with the tribe. Wolf is both the radical and the traditional in the same breath. When the Wolf walks by you, you will remember.”

-Robert Ghost Wolf

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Coming from a family like mine, it is impossible to single out one single person to thank since I have gotten a lot of things from a lot of people. I get my discipline, strength and courage from my dad; my relentlessness and self-awareness from my mother; my sense of family and relationships from my stepdad; my sense of unconditional love from my stepmom; and my sense of the importance of giving back from my grandfather. It takes a village to raise a person, and I am a living proof.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? The most important thing for me has always been to leave a mark, a legacy. I would like my peers to say that I have helped them in one way or another. I want to be a source of inspiration for people, and I want to help others achieve greatness. And, in the future, I want them to say that they would do business with me in a heartbeat.

Favorite book: Angels and Daemons by Dan Brown

Favorite movie: The Ultimate Gift

Favorite musical performer: Ludovico Einaudi

Favorite vacation spot: San Marino, which is one of the smallest countries in the world located inside of Italy.

What are your hobbies? Since I was a kid, I have always been fascinated by Cardistry and magic. I used to practice card magic as a teenager, and from time to time I still pick up a deck to show people tricks. I also like to play billiards, box, and play basketball.

What made Juan Pablo such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2017?

“Juan Pablo was a truly exceptional student, beyond the A+ that he earned in my class. He demonstrated a passion and mastery of his course work that certainly puts him in the top 5% of students that I have ever had in my time teaching at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

He has also succeeded outside of the classroom beyond his academic endeavors. Juan Pablo joined and was highly involved in ASU ENACTUS, a student organization focused on social entrepreneurship as a means to make positive impact and change within society. Juan Pablo contributed significantly to the organization, from providing insight and counter points during organizational planning, but also doing the small things like practicing presentations with international students prior to competitions.

Beyond the ASU community, he has been very involved in a local community organization called CASS (Central Arizona Shelter Services), which provides shelter and services to the homeless across the valley. His passion for providing structure and resources for the homeless was emotional and moving for me, as it is clear that he is engaged in having a long term impact on these individuals, and cares deeply about giving his time, energy, and passion to this cause.

Juan Pablo exemplifies the ideals of both the W. P. Carey School of Business, and more broadly, Arizona State University. I have no doubt that he will be an incredibly successful W. P. Carey alumnus.”

Rhett D. Trujillo
Lecturer, Entrepreneurial Initiatives
Department of Management
W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University


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