Whenever Almudena Ruíz, ’12, returns to Mexico City from a trip stateside, she notices a reduction in speed—and not just due to the traffic, which has been measured as the most congested in the world. “When I come back to Mexico, I notice people don’t move as fast as they do in New York and Chicago. But on the other hand, they’re really friendly,” said the equity strategist at Casa de Bolsa Finamex. “That’s the way Latin American people work.”
The nearly 90 Booth alumni in Mexico City like to share the knowledge and experience they’ve gained in the business world—primarily from the areas of finance, top-tier consulting, and the e-commerce and startup worlds from companies such as Uber and Groupon—in a relaxed and social atmosphere. In order to spare members the headache of downtown traffic, and to keep alumni engaged, the club holds a diverse range of events in various neighborhoods of Mexico City.
The Mexico City Experts
Eduardo (Lalo) Carrillo-Diaz Sr., ’76, Retired Chairman, President, and CEO, Casa de Bolsa Finamex
Eduardo (Lalo) Carrillo Jr., ’12, CEO, Casa de Bolsa Finamex
Jaime Chico Pardo, ’74, Chairman, CEO, and Founder, Grupo ENESA
Carlos Fainsod, ’11, CFO, Planigrupo
Alejandro Rentería, ’12, Principal, Alta Growth Capital
Almudena Ruíz, ’12, Equity Strategist, Casa de Bolsa Finamex
“We don’t want people to be bored,” said Planigrupo CFO Carlos Fainsod, ’11, of the half-dozen events the club hosts each year. Particularly popular is the alumni poker night, held at the home of a member of the club’s board. “Last time I went there, I got home at 2 a.m.,” Fainsod said. “It’s really fun. The small talk in between the gaming is what I take home with me.”
Whenever you say ‘Booth,’ you can get speakers that are well recognized here in Mexico.
In addition to get-togethers such as poker night, the club hosts events featuring thought leaders from the Mexican business world. A recent one was an economic outlook discussion with Ricardo Haneine, ’84, partner at A. T. Kearney, and Herminio Blanco, PhD ’78 (Economics), president of Soluciones Estratégicas and former secretary of commerce and industrial development for Mexico. “Whenever you say ‘Booth,’ you can get speakers that are well recognized here in Mexico,”
Family culture is particularly important in Mexico, and the club has been tailored to reflect that. “I was talking to Almudena, and we noticed there were really no family events,” said Ruíz’s husband, Alejandro Rentería, ’12, a principal at Alta Growth Capital. “There were the traditional networking events [like] Thursday Night Drinking Club, Worldwide Booth Night, and the golf tournament, but nothing that included the whole family.” Rentería and Ruíz wanted to change that. “So we organized a Saturday barbecue for families, where members could invite the kids and the [spouses].”
“It was a great event,” said Ruíz, who added that the large turnout included older and younger alumni alike. “We had parents who brought kids who were teenagers already, and there were alumni who just graduated and had their little babies. Everybody had a great time.”
The group takes pride in blending perspectives from different generations. “People who have graduated as early as the 1970s are regular attendees at our events. Combine that with more recent graduates, and it makes some good conversations,” said club president Eduardo Carrillo Jr., ’12, CEO of Casa de Bolsa Finamex. “The young kids enjoy networking very much,” added his father, Eduardo Carrillo-Diaz Sr., ’76, who is also an active member of the club, as well as the retired chairman, president, and CEO of Casa de Bolsa Finamex.
To maintain this connection between long-term knowledge and the modern business world, Carrillo Jr. said, the club aims to continue to attract young alumni and grow its presence in other Mexican cities, such as Monterrey. “That’s important because we want to have students from other states in Mexico go to Booth. Most of the students used to come from one university—now we have a more diversified group,” said Jaime Chico Pardo, ’74, chairman, CEO, and founder of Grupo ENESA, who occasionally hosts club events at his home.
The majority of the club is made up of alumni who came to Booth from Mexico and other Latin American countries, but even—or perhaps especially—during a time when economic relations with the United States are tenuous, the club stays in close touch with campus, hosting events featuring speakers from Hyde Park, interviewing potential students, and, in Carrillo Sr.’s case, participating in Booth’s Global Advisory Board, where he is co-chair of the Americas cabinet.
Members of the club such as Ruíz, who found her first job through Booth contacts, are eager to give back to the network that benefited them. “What I find is that everyone from the university is helpful. When you write a cold email or ask for help and say, ‘I’m from Booth,’ they will help you."
Best Spot for a Networking Breakfast: El Cardenal
Ruíz recommends this breakfast spot, which has three locations throughout the city. El Cardenal is a traditional restaurant that has been in Mexico City since 1969. While wait times can be high at peak hours, fans like Ruíz say it’s worth the wait. “The food is good, and it’s a relaxing place to have a business breakfast,” she said.
The alumni club in Mexico hosts a range of events throughout the city, from a poker night and a golf tournament to a family-friendly barbecue.
Best Spot for a Classic Business Dinner: Punta Arena
Fainsod said this high-end seafood spot meets all the requirements for an impressive meal with colleagues or clients. "The food is good, and it has a really good atmosphere." With many locations, he said, "You can find one in a more quiet area for a working dinner, or go to one located close to the [downtown] office buildings."
Best Place to Take the Kids: San Jacinto Plaza
This charming, leafy square in the San Ángel neighborhood is a great place to slow down and take in Mexico City life, said Ruíz. "It's a very Mexican atmosphere," she added. Kids and grownups alike will enjoy exploring the area's traditional restaurants and Mexican handicrafts for sale.
Best Spot to Sip Tequila and People Watch: Gin Gin Polanco
Mexico City Booth alumni are such fans of this stylish cocktail joint in the Polanco neighborhood that they've hosted Worldwide Booth Night here. "It's got a great central location, so you can go barhopping from there," said Fainsod.
For a lesson on local ancient history, out-of-towners can visit Teotihuacán, a vast archaeological complex that is home to the Pyramid of the Sun, which was completed around 200 CE.
If You Only Have a Few Hours: National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park
"What I usually recommend to students who come to Mexico City is the National Museum of Anthropology, which is surrounded by very pretty parks," said Chico. Chapultepec Park, one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere, surrounds the museum, and is a great place to picnic with the kids or squeeze in an outdoor workout while in town. "You can run, bike, or row. There is also a zoo and a museum, nice exhibits, and a castle to explore," said Ruíz.
If You Have Time for a Day Trip: Teotihuacán and La Marquesa National Park
Chico recommends out-of-towners take a drive to Teotihuacán, a vast archaeological complex that is less than an hour away from central Mexico City. The complex is home to the Pyramid of the Sun, which was completed around 200 CE. Ruíz also recommends La Marquesa National Park, also about an hour away from the city and full of trails and small ranches, to escape the traffic and smog of the city.
—By Claire Zulkey