When international business and technology executive Jaime Vallés ’16 MBA looks around at the Kellogg School of Management alumni community, he recognizes that he and his fellow graduates have a few powerful traits in common. “First, commitment; second, a desire to make transformation happen; third, continuous innovation; and last, a determination to make a positive difference in everything we do,” he said. It’s not just about achieving great things — although Kellogg alumni certainly do. “It’s about taking a low-ego approach to doing everything we do, always looking to acknowledge opportunity areas and continuously improve,” he explained.
Vallés brings this same holistic approach to his own role as vice president for Latin America of Amazon’s cloud-computing unit, Amazon Web Services. Before joining AWS, Vallés worked with people from all around the world as president of Asia-Pacific, Japan, Greater China and Latin America for Cisco Systems. But when he joined Amazon Web Services roughly six years ago, he had the rare opportunity to transform an entire business region from a single territory into a regional player — a task that meant bringing together individuals and partners from different geographic territories on an even more collaborative and entrepreneurial scale.
At AWS, Vallés leverages the skills he gained through the Kellogg Executive MBA Program to lead a global team tasked with helping customers achieve their goals using Amazon’s ever-expanding range of online technologies. He particularly values the lessons he learned from the late management professor J. Keith Murnighan.
“Before taking Keith’s leadership class, I had already held a significant role in a technology company and had many experiences around leadership, culture and transformation,” Vallés said. “But that class connected all the dots, and I spent tons of hours with him learning about aspirational leadership, self-awareness and making a positive difference with every personal interaction.”
Vallés still gives each of his direct reports a copy of Murnighan’s book, “Do Nothing! How to Stop Overmanaging and Become a Great Leader.” “We talk about it and we use it, especially every time I make a mistake, because it’s about acknowledging mistakes. After all, in the end, no matter how big we think we are as innovators, we’re all human beings and make mistakes. I’m pretty tough and direct, and sometimes I have to say, ‘Yeah . . . I could have done things better.’ I then remember what Keith would say: ‘Understand it, get it, regroup, build on it and then move on.’ A lot of this same way of thinking has been embedded in the way that we’re leading the company at AWS Latin America.”
To Vallés, being a member of the Kellogg alumni community means being at the forefront of in- demand leadership. “I’m convinced that Kellogg’s teachings point to where the world should be heading, and that technology can make a difference in emerging markets by enabling greater innovation, better healthcare and improved quality of life for countless citizens,” he said.
“What Kellogg teaches is really the right long-term approach to making a difference in countries all around the world,” Vallés said. “What does it mean to have an MBA? We’re talking about the ability to transform societies and positively impacting millions of people, just as this education made a meaningful impact on my life. It’s a holistic approach to making a difference in the world around us.”