2022 Best & Brightest Business Major: João Pires Coelho, University of San Diego (Knauss)

João Pires Coelho

University of San Diego, Knauss School of Business

Also Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics (Double degree student)

“Nerdy guy with big heart that likes history, gaming, and will always make you laugh.”

Fun fact about yourself: I am writing a book.

Hometown: Lisbon, Portugal

High School: Externato Marista de Lisboa

Major: International Business & Supply Chain Management

Minor: None

Favorite Business Course: Negotiations in a Global Business Environment

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Leadership Roles:

Student International Business Council Member and Team Leader

USD Model United Nations Member

School Awards and Honors:

Outstanding Delegate Award at Carolina’s Model UN Conference

USD Dean’s List (2020, 2021)

USD First Honors (2020, 2021)

Catolica Top+ Scholarship

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Intern at Fábrica Startups Lisbon – Summer 2020 – I worked at a startup incubator in Lisbon, Portugal where I was part of the creation of their new product, conducted research and consumer segment analyses, and did website development.
  • YAC Consulting – 2021 – I co-founded a consulting company in Portugal, where I worked for one year as COO and Head of Strategy. I created every process of the company from scratch, conducted meetings with clients, and oversaw all projects where I shared my consulting experience from SIBC with our consultants. In my time there, we grew the company from just 3 co-founders to a startup with 25 members.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be pursuing a Master’s double degree with Católica Lisbon and ESCP-Europe

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? When someone thinks of business, the first things that come to mind are profits and revenues. The biggest takeaway from studying business is that people are way more important than any profit margin. In such a modernized world, we can develop methods in seconds to fully optimize our supply chain, extract the most revenue possible from a market, or explore financial markets and predict the next big investment opportunity. All of that is not possible without the people behind it. Subjects like interpersonal relations and negotiations that teach people how to deal with people are the most important thing that someone could learn in a business degree.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? For a student looking to major in a business-related field, I would give the advice of exploring some of the less known business majors that are out there. In my case, I chose Supply Chain Management as one of my majors, the business major with the least amount of people at my university, and it has been so worth it since day 1. I recommend exploring beyond the stereotypical business admin or finance major. In these lesser known majors, you usually find the most interesting people, both faculty and peers, and it’a where you will find your real passion in business.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The thing that surprised me the most about majoring in business is not related to the major, but about the people who pursue it. I have always thought that people who studied business would be looking to work at a big company, whose dream job was to become CEO or to create their own business. I was astonished by the variety of reasons and motivations that people had to pursue the same major as me. Some wanted to help their family business; some wanted to work with non-profits and have the best knowledge possible to help them; and some were older students who decided that it was time in life to pursue a degree. In my mind, a business major was always composed of young adults between 18-25 years, with either a money-thirsty personality or a real entrepreneurial spirit and it is much more than I expected.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? There are not many things that I would have done differently. I believe that I have always tried to make the best out of every situation that I am in. The one thing I would have changed would have been to attend more presentations by guest speakers. When I got into college, I always felt like guest speakers seemed to be a waste of time. But as I get ready to finish college, I wish I would have gone to listen to more of them. Guest speakers are not only a great networking opportunity, but they are also a great way to get insights into an industry or business.

Which classmate do you most admire? I had the luck of meeting Eva in my first year at the University of San Diego and it has been very worth it ever since. Eva Eleftheriadis is probably the smartest person I have ever met in my life. She is a person with whom you can speak for hours, with the conversation never getting dull. One will never cease to be surprised by the vastness of her knowledge. She is the person that I know of who belongs to the largest number of clubs, being president of MUN (that I am part of) amongst many others. She is doing a major in International Relations and minors in Spanish, Classical Studies and Chemistry, all while being Pre-Med. And she is only a sophomore. She is doing so many things at the same time, and she is so organized that she actually inspired me to work harder and organize my life. I would not be surprised if, in the future, her name becomes one of those that we hear often in the news.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? It is impossible to choose only one when there are two people that have influenced my success immensely. If there is anyone to thank for my success, my parents are the ones that come to mind. Not only are they my number one fans, but they have been encouraged me throughout all my ups-and-downs in life to pursue the best outcome possible and keep on working. One thing that I remember very dearly is the many hours that my mother spent with me when I was little, teaching me how to study, helping me get through bad times at school and academic failures, all after 8 exhausting hours at her job. My parents are the reason that I got to where I am and there are no words to thank them enough.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Create my own company – I wish to leave my legacy in the world in the form of a company that helps people in a certain way. I believe that all business can turn a profit while still making a difference and I wish to be one of those businesses.
  • Become COO of a company – I have found a passion for supply chain management and strategy throughout my degree. COO has got to be the position that I believe fits those two interests best and that I would love to be

What are your hobbies? I love reading and studying history. I own over 200 books, some of them dating as far back as 1904. I am also a big gamer and am really interested in the gaming industry. It’s one that I follow closely and would like to work in one day (perhaps at a company like Sony). I consider all of the clubs and extracurricular activities that I do as hobbies like SIBC or Model UN. I also have the stereotypical hobby of liking to travel and am always looking out for new places to visit and add to my bucket list.

What made João such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Joao Pires Coelho is an outstanding member of the 2022 graduating class at the Knauss School of Business because he reflects all three elements of our mission: he is entrepreneurial, he has a global mindset and he has a strong sense of ethical business. It is hard to fully appreciate how challenging the last two years have been for our double degree students. Between travel restrictions, testing requirements, quarantines and constant uncertainty, these students have juggled many additional responsibilities throughout their time at USD. Joao has tackled them head on and has impressed me infinitely with his tireless work ethic and professionalism, his contagious enthusiasm and positivity and his genuine desire to make the most of every moment he is at USD.”

Eileen Daspro
Clinical Professor of International Business
University of San Diego Knauss School of Business



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.