University of Southern California

Nestor Camargo
Taking a Chance
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Graduating Year
Bogota, Colombia

Nestor Camargo came to the United States from Colombia at age 17 to work and save money for college. He put himself through California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, studying mechanical engineering, and then took a job with Chevron. He decided to take a chance on the consulting field after a friend mentioned an opportunity at Accenture.

He ended up staying there seven years. “I loved it,” he says. “I was meeting new people on every project, working in different cultures and organizations, all while still working for the same company.”

The first in his family to graduate from college, Nestor knew he wanted to get his MBA. However, with his long track record at Accenture, he says it began to not make financial sense to pursue another degree. “I decided it was now or never,” he says. “I decided to jump into the water.”

Changing perspectives

He chose USC Marshall because of the people and the overall quality of the program. “As soon as I submitted my application, one of the students called me and said ‘If you need any help or guidance, here’s my phone number, here’s my email. Let me know whatever you need,’” recalls Nestor. “I didn’t get that from the other schools I applied to.”

In addition, he was drawn to USC Marshall’s unique requirement of international travel through the Pacific Rim Education (PRIME) program, which took him to Shanghai. “Up to that point I had not been out of the Americas,” he says.

He also gained a new perspective through the Marshall curriculum. Among his favorite classes was Corporate Financial Policy and Corporate Control—taught by Harry DeAngelo—which Nestor found extremely challenging but invaluable, as it gave him new insights into the financial services industry.

“I did project management for almost every bank on the West Coast with Accenture, but I was on the IT side of it,” he says. “Professor DeAngelo has a lot of experience and we were able to talk about a lot of real-life examples. It made the class very relevant.”

Helping others

Just as Nestor has found his fellow Marshall students supportive, he in turn is devoting himself to aiding others even beyond the campus of USC. He brought his brother to Los Angeles and helped pay his way through college at Cal Poly Pomona, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 2008.

Eventually Nestor wants to help other disadvantaged students gain admission to and secure scholarships for college by launching a nonprofit education company aimed at early preparation. “I want to be able to give an opportunity to kids who, for one reason or another, are in the same situation I was in back in Colombia, not being able to afford school,” he explains. “I came to the U.S. with 20 bucks in my pocket and here I am. I put myself through school. I want them to understand they can do it, too.”

In the meantime, Nestor has joined the leadership rotation program at the health benefits company Wellpoint. “I started reflecting on what was important in life and decided if I wanted to work for a big company, I also wanted to do something that will make a positive impact,” he says.