Joseph Buenavista, MBA '04, Financial Advisor

Joseph Buenavista, a vice president and wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch, is the recent recipient of the prestigious Gael Of The Last Decade (G.O.L.D.) award for his ardent dedication to strengthening the Graduate Business Alumni Chapter. But, ten years ago, when Buenavista entered the Saint Mary’s MBA program, his future was not so clear.

With a wife, and a 5-year-old daughter, Buenavista had a good job as director of customer marketing at Del Monte, but hoped an MBA degree would afford him some time to think and develop a clearer sense of his professional horizon. He had a wealth of industry experience, but sought a fresh perspective.

“I went in open, and came out focused. Listening to the experiences of my cohorts, during the many classroom hours, group projects, and faculty exchanges, gave me perspective on what I was doing,” Buenavista says.

“This is a chance to do some real introspection and to question the status quo in your life. You don't get many opportunities to do that because of the tremendous amount of distraction we experience every day in our own lives. For a few hours at a time, you get to listen to others and ultimately to yourself.”

“SMC was an integral part of my evolution and development as a professional. It provided an academic context by which I could convert my professional experience into something very real and tangible. It turned out that this was the piece I needed to finally figure out what I wanted to do.”

Buenavista has returned the favor. In his acceptance speech, after receiving the G.O.L.D. award he noted, “There is no way you get anything meaningful done by yourself. It takes a group of dedicated people focused on goodness.” That is why he’s so happy to give back to the program that propelled him forward. After all, as he says, “Saint Mary’s MBA is a full circle program that builds on itself, building a pedigree that serves to perpetuate goodness at the graduate level.”

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