Jose A. (Joe) Hernandez, Jr., (EMBA ’09) – Argyros School of Business and Economics
Born in Havana, Cuba, Jose “Joe” Hernandez, Jr., came to the United States when he was 10 years old on one of the last “Freedom Flights” escaping Castro’s communist regime. He and his mother settled in California and he received his BA from Cal State Northridge, in Industrial Design. As a new graduate, Joe completed a two-year banking management training program and began a banking career that would span 46 years. With no experience in accounting or finance, he asked many questions of his daily clientele of CEOs, CFOs, entrepreneurs and business owners and regularly attended the Chapman Economic Forecasts over the years (and still does). Seeking more, Joe completed his Chapman MBA in 2009, which he shares greatly enhanced his professional and personal achievements. Joe’s gift for working with people has led him to the position of Senior Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager for City Bank. Joe’s Chapman Experience is counted among his career highlights, not only for the great education, but also for the many peers and professors he met along the way, especially the late economics professor Dr. Esmael Adibi, who became one of Joe’s close friends and mentors. Joe continues his Chapman alumni connection and currently serves on the Argryos School Board of Counselors and enjoys mentoring Chapman students.
Q&A with Jose A. (Joe) Hernandez, Jr.
We asked this year’s winners about their experiences at Chapman and what advice they have for current students.
Who was the most influential person for you at Chapman? Why?
Dr. Esmael Adibi.The program was intimidating to start with, considering I was not a business undergrad. And my 1st class in the program was Economics, a subject I had no formal knowledge of. He challenged me in every way, at every class, but was also very supportive and helpful in making me understand the subject matter. It ended up being my favorite class. We became good friends, until his passing.
If you could go back and experience one moment from your time at Chapman, what would it be?
The challenge of going back to school later in my career, and the comradery of my classmates, some of which remain friends today.
Is there anything that you would do differently?
Not miss the 2nd statistics class, which turned the odds against me.
What were the most challenging social issues in our country/world that you faced as a young college student? What was your perspective or how did you get involved? Have your opinions on these issues changed or stayed the same? Give an example…
Considering I was not a young college student during the EMBA class, I did not have any social issues. I was quite comfortable socially. Being an older student, I was surprised how the younger students, who were better prepared than I was for the EMBA class, were still acting immature at times during classes and travel events. I participated at all of the classes and events. I still feel the same. Some students played computer games during classes, some were challenged with public speaking and acted immature during some travel events.
What do you wish you knew at the time of your graduation (about life, careers, family, best place for tacos, etc.) that you know now? What advice can you give to the students and/or recent graduates of today?
I pretty much knew most of the issues relating to life, family, friends, etc. However, while I wish I had a stronger financial background before starting the program, I believe my banking career to date helped significantly with the program.
Don’t take any class for granted, put your heart and soul into learning the subject matter, no matter how difficult it is. Get involved and communicate with people and learn about who they are. Don’t be shy.
How did Chapman prepare you for your career? How did your experience prepare you for the real world?
Chapman, and the EMBA, did not prepare me for my career, but gave me the direction, at that time in my life on where I needed to focus. I did and became that much stronger and better at my job than I had been before. Which was also financially rewarding. While I felt quite experienced to date in the real world, considering I had escaped communism when I was younger. However it did help me to deal with the real world ahead. During the class we experienced the 2007-2009 recession which turned the financial world upside down, ushering in the regulatory environment we are still facing today. Being in banking, this experience was invaluable.