- Full-time MBA 2016
- Summer Intern, Blockchain Technology, Intel Labs, Portland
- B.A., Sociology, University of Chicago
- Starts in July as marketing manager at Intel’s New Business Initiatives Division
Sometimes tinkering at the margins leads us to unexpected opportunities. Such was the case with Raymundo Beristain-Barajas MBA 16, who parlayed his interest in blockchain technology and his forthcoming UC Davis MBA, into a plum position at Intel.
“After college, I started reading up on bitcoin and I was fascinated by it,” said the 25-year-old Beristain-Barajas. “Little by little I learned how it functions and its potential, and eventually I became a bitcoin miner. As a miner, I was involved in the technology infrastructure that propagates transactions on the bitcoin network.
“I didn’t see it as a career option. I didn’t even have it on my resume until a few months after I got to UC Davis, but then I thought, ‘I know a lot about bitcoin,’ why don’t I add it?”
Wise move. Beristain-Barajas believes his bitcoin expertise, coupled with the skills from the first year as a UC Davis MBA student, led to his internship at Intel in Portland last summer. Recently, the tech giant offered him a full-time position as marketing manager in its New Business Initiatives division.
His role? Come up with new applications for blockchain technology to apply to new products.
Beristain-Barajas discovered his love for business after graduating from the University of Chicago in 2012 and returning to his home town of Santa Cruz. There he started a home automation—“smart homes”—construction company with his father, a general contractor.
He helped build the business from the ground up, handling its incorporation and finances. He discovered he loved running a business, and meanwhile kept expanding his knowledge base through online videos and other digital content. That was how he discovered his other passion—the blockchain technology behind bitcoin.
Beristain-Barajas recently talked about his journey to the UC Davis GSM and his goals.
How did your academic and personal paths lead you to the UC Davis Graduate School of Management?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial drive. After graduating from college, I felt it was the right opportunity to start a business because I had few responsibilities. If it fails, it fails and it’s not a big deal. So I partnered with my father who is a general contractor and we started a home automation construction company. I handled most of the business and incorporated it. My father handled everything on the construction side. From there, I realized I would eventually land in business school because I wanted to develop my business knowledge. I chose UC Davis because it’s a small program and everyone helps each other out. It’s very collaborative.
What motivates you to study business?
When I was running a small business, I realized business encapsulates so many different topics. At the GSM, I am able to study statistics, finance and marketing. I get to satisfy that intellectual curiosity by having such a diverse set of courses. A lot of people ask me how I went from sociology to business. It’s actually really relevant.
Business is all about networks, and especially now with the internet a lot of new startups are offering network goods. The understanding of networks, whether they are digital or social is critical and even though sociology is not just solely about networks, it’s a big focus. So being able to understand how networks interact and how different nodes connect to other people and influencer…it’s actually very relatable.
How was your experience interning at Intel?
I worked at Intel Labs, which is Intel’s R&D group. My job was to research and find new applications for blockchain technology. It was a great learning experience to see how large businesses operate. I met a lot of great people there. I did market research on current use cases for this technology. How banks are adopting this tech in order to facilitate trading. I ranked them and chose the top three and from there, I fleshed them out a little more. As part of my internship, I presented the details of my top use case as well as the financial projections. I’m eager to learn how Intel may have run with my project when I go back in July.
Talk about your experience on your Integrated Management Project
Our team consulted on financial modeling for a prominent Bay Area technology company’s fiber broadband division. As the team lead, right from the beginning, I knew this was going to be my priority for the entire quarter. I would work weekends. Work late. I made it clear that I would expect that from everyone else on the team…the team gave it their all. It was a great experience to manage my peers. A lot of us are Type-A personalities and these personalities can clash, but that didn’t happen to us. We collaborated and it allowed us to make a solid recommendation to a cutting-edge company.
I learned that managing is all about managing people, understanding your team, understanding their strengths and putting yourself in their position and understanding what they want out of it. In the beginning, I started out by asking, “What are your strengths?” Some had more finance experience. Some had more data analysis experience. I made sure that we aligned people on our team with their strengths. Much of my time was focused on maximizing the team’s productivity. Observing closely the time being spent. I had to look back and say, “What do we need?”
What are your future goals and aspirations?
I’ve accepted the offer at Intel, so I will be moving to Oregon. I’m going to be a marketing manager in Intel’s New Business Initiatives (NBI). I will build off my summer work, and also develop strategies to monetize these new applications. NBI is where small ventures can turn into Intel’s new businesses. That is my role, and my goal is to succeed in doing that.
Intel makes chips and memory, but they are innovating in many fields, including drones and wearables—smart watches. Even though my title will be marketing manager, the product doesn’t exist yet. I will be in more of a strategy and business development role.
In terms of big scheme and bigger goals, I would like to have a positive impact on people’s lives. I’m not sure exactly how, but I think it is through education.
Longer term, I would love to go on archaeological digs to ancient Mayan ruins. I don’t know when, it might be when I retire, but I want to be able to dig up what no one has touched or seen in the last 2,000 years. That would be exhilarating.
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