Mendoza honors exemplary graduate alumni for 2014

Author: Christine Cox


Each year, the Office of Graduate Alumni Relations recognizes two individuals for their dedication to the Mendoza College of Business through direct service to the College or through living the mission of the College in their daily lives.

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a graduate business alumnus/alumna who has demonstrated achievement in business and a commitment to the Mendoza College of Business through leadership and service to the graduate business community or through living the Mendoza mission of "Ask More of Business" in his or her local community. This year’s winner is Federico Barquero Tefel (MBA ’02).

The Alumni Service Award recognizes a graduate business alumnus/alumna who graduated within the past seven years and has demonstrated commitment to the Mendoza College of Business or to the Mendoza mission of "Ask More of Business" through service to the community. This year’s winner is William Towns (EMBA ’09)

Examples of service to the graduate business community include, but are not limited to, recruitment of prospective students, speaking on campus, financial support of the graduate business program, participation in alumni activities and career recruitment.

About the 2014 winners

Federico Barquero Tefel

Thirteen years have passed since Federico Barquero Tefel (MBA ’02) came to Notre Dame as a student. Yet as time goes by, the University and the Mendoza College of Business become more and more significant to him.

“The Notre Dame MBA has been a blessing in my life,” he says. “Academically, it taught me that business should be carried out responsibly, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is a long term, competitive advantage.

“Personally, I met some of my best friends while I was at the MBA program, and continue to make Notre Dame friends and acquaintances everywhere I go. As the Notre Dame Alumni Association board’s regional director for Latin America, I see the immeasurable value of the ND network in every country. I am always amazed,” he explains. 

As the Latin America regional alumni director, Barquero, who lives in Guatemala City, is in charge of keeping Domers in 18 countries connected to each other and Notre Dame through the various Notre Dame Clubs. Barquero is very active in the Notre Dame Club of Guatemala, playing an instrumental role in organizing its events.

Rodolfo Bollat (MBA ’04), who nominated Barquero for the award, used Barquero’s own words to help define him: “To use Federico’s own words, ‘The best way for an alum to contribute back to the University is to become a full-time delegate of Notre Dame’s worldwide mission by embodying what the school is all about.’ I believe Federico excels at accomplishing this challenge every day through strong ethical leadership in his daily job, a dedicated commitment to give back to the community he lives in and a hands-on example of character and charisma to his friends and family,” Bollat wrote.

Barquero is vice president of commercialization for Fogel de Centroamerica S.A., a commercial refrigeration business based in Guatemala City that is owned and run by three generations of the Tefel family. He has been a key figure in expanding sales worldwide.

This international aspect of his family’s company is especially fulfilling for Barquero. “It is very satisfying to see one of our Guatemalan or Colombian made coolers in countries such as South Africa and Poland,” he says. “My cell phone has tons of images of coolers that I have found during my travels. It is fun to verify if a cooler is working properly by auditing the temperature of the beer stored inside!”   

Additionally, Barquero is a board member of CentraRSE, a not-for-profit Guatemalan organization that promotes corporate social responsibility in the private sector. It represents more than 100 companies, including some of the largest corporations in the region.

This commitment reflects the values of his Notre Dame MBA and experiences that not only changed his life, but also influenced generations of his family. “My grandfather, Jacobo Tefel ’54, did a good job brainwashing me about Notre Dame since I was a little boy,” Barquero says. “Notre Dame is one of the best things that ever happened in my life. Following in my grandfather’s footsteps, I am now brainwashing my two children and hope that many years from now they may have the same opportunity.”

William Towns (EMBA ’09)

William Towns was just a boy when he became intrigued by neighborhoods and communities. His fascination began when his family moved from a far south side neighborhood of Chicago to a more prosperous neighborhood on the north side.

Towns enjoyed living in both places, but noticed differences. “There were things that took place on the south side that weren't acceptable on the north side,” he says. “The amount of trash on the street and people hanging out was not tolerated in my new Lincoln Park neighborhood. I found it intriguing how these seemingly similar neighborhoods in the same city could have such different outlooks on behavior. I wanted to understand why that difference existed.”

Today, Towns not only remains intrigued by such questions, but he’s also finding answers. As assistant vice president in the Office of Civic Engagement at The University of Chicago, Towns is charged with developing policies and strategies that revitalize communities by influencing economic growth, improving health care opportunities and increasing safety across the neighborhoods throughout the mid-south side of Chicago.

“You can’t have a truly strong Chicago without a strong south side,” he says. “We have to make sure that there are opportunities in all parts of the city. Our neighborhoods aren’t any different than neighborhoods across the country, and we believe through working with the city and our community partners, we can develop proven models that can be replicated and used throughout the country.”

His outstanding commitment to neighborhoods and to Notre Dame inspired Nika Levando, assistant director of neighborhood initiatives for The University of Chicago, to nominate him for the Recent Notre Dame Graduate Alumni Service Award. “In all that he does William brings a compassion and belief that your zip code or financial status should not be an indicator of your chance of reaching your full potential.”

Towns received an executive MBA from Notre Dame in 2009 after a friend insisted he take a look at the program. “She said, ‘I just met [former Mendoza dean] Carolyn Woo and she’s fantastic. You have to look at Notre Dame.’ So I decided to look into it.”

Towns and his wife, Marisol, liked what they saw. “It was the teaching of core business skills along with the understanding that businesses are more than just a profit-driven entity,” Towns says. “Businesses have an obligation to help support the communities from which they derive their profits. The tagline ‘Ask More of Business’ just works.”

Now, Towns makes time to help recruit students to the EMBA program. “I’ve been back (to the Chicago campus) many times since graduating to talk with potential students and to explain to them why the Notre Dame MBA is so special. My wife, two daughters and I are proud to say we are part of the Notre Dame family. Go Irish!”