Alvaro Madero, SDM ’12: Trekking to Silicon Valley

Alvaro Madero By Lynne Weiss
December 14, 2012

While SDM ’12 Alvaro Madero was still working toward his B.S. in electronic systems engineering at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Mexico, he and a friend were hired to reconfigure 250 routers that had come with the wrong firmware. "The client expected us to take about a week to complete, but we did it in 10 hours." Madero went on to explain that he and his friend used a virtual keyboard that allowed them to enter the reconfiguration just once. "Then we ran it 250 times."

The company that hired Madero to do that job was a startup named CARSA (Consultoria y Asesoria de Redes S.A. — Consulting and Assessment on Networks). Needless to say, CARSA was eager to hire Madero when he finished school. At first his role was to provide technical support to the sales team, but over time, he shifted to consulting in pre-sales meetings to develop strategy.

When Madero decided to pursue a graduate degree, he realized that he did not want to stop being an engineer to pursue a conventional MBA. Nor did he want to limit himself to a technical degree. In 2010 he discovered SDM on the MIT website and realized "this is what I want: a combination of engineering and business."

Shortly after matriculating in SDM in January 2012, Madero joined the 2012 SDM Tech Trek, the first in several years. The trek took about 25 SDM fellows to California’s Silicon Valley, where they visited eight different companies, including Tesla, First Solar, Silver Springs, TIBCO, Yammer, Cisco, Google, and Intel.

Madero was so enthusiastic about the trek that he volunteered to co-lead the next one, scheduled for March 25-29, 2013. In creating an itinerary, he and co-lead Michael Seelhoff first sought out contacts within targeted companies across various industries who understand the strategic value of bridging the gap between engineering and management. "Most professionals who have managed projects involving engineers understand how SDM [fellows] can add value," Madero said.

Because one company wanted to interview visiting SDM students in 2012, this year’s trek will allow time for interviews, in addition to group tours. The 2013 trek will include both companies visited last year and new ones as well.

For Madero, who sees his future in IT, the SDM Tech Trek offers an opportunity to get to know the companies and their cultures firsthand. "From the outside, we can only imagine what it might be like to work in a company," Madero explained. "But it’s a whole different experience to see it from the inside."

Companies interested in hosting a visit to their facilities by SDM fellows should contact Joan S. Rubin, Industry Co-director, System Design and Management.

Alvaro Madero
Photo by Kathy Tarantola Photography