Park Fellows alumni spotlight: José Gaztambide, MBA ’13
Oftentimes, the role of a leader is to harness the power of people’s passions. That’s a crucial lesson in peer leadership that José Gaztambide learned during his stint as Johnson Student Council president.
“Whenever we talk about leadership, there’s almost an assumed subordinate relationship: I am your manager and you are following me; but peer leadership is significantly more complicated and much more nuanced,” says Gaztambide, who came to Johnson after working with the Peace Corps on social-impact projects in Honduras. “You have no choice but to rely on what a person is passionate about, and help them tap into that passion and unleash it.”
In the Park program, Gaztambide found a framework, vocabulary, and space for the Park Fellows to think about and discuss leadership. “It was an opportunity to reflect on leadership in a unique and safe space with marvelous human beings,” he says.
Gaztambide found that he was an adaptive leader, sometimes to an extreme extent, as the result of having lived in many different places and situations throughout his life. “Some of the feedback from my cohort was, ‘You are too much of a chameleon, and I don’t know who I’m going to get when I engage you,’” he says, adding that the feedback helped him start putting some healthy boundaries around his leadership.
After graduating, Gaztambide worked for McKinsey & Co., building relationships with clients that outlasted his time at the firm. “I’m still in touch with, and give unofficial counsel to, a number of them,” he says proudly. He credits the Park program with helping him create strong, warm bonds in his client-consultant relationships, which are typically fraught with stress, tension, and mistrust. “Before the Park program, I felt there was a professional José and personal José; but I learned how to bring the full, authentic José to my work in a way that really resonated with a lot of my clients,” he adds.
That realization of authenticity also helped guide Gaztambide to leave McKinsey for Quantified Ventures, a boutique consulting advisory firm that brokers deals for social-impact investments. He is now vice president of strategy and finance for Interapt, a tech-focused social enterprise. He adds, “The Park program was about being authentic to myself, doing things I was passionate about, supporting my values, and being present and in tune with myself.”