Daniel Gandarilla

Back to school

TCU’s MBA/EdD dual program pushes Daniel Gandarilla to the head of the class

Hometown: San Francisco, California.
Former life: Graduated from Stanford and started rethinking K-12 education.
Future life: Innovative ways to combine his passion for education and business strategy.
Cool fact: He taught English in Mexico City to execs from American Express and other companies.

A perfect mix: Today’s education leaders need business savvy on top of classroom skills. For former history teacher Daniel, who wants to start a charter school or youth foundation, TCU’s innovative MBA/EdD dual degree was the smartest way to learn the business aspects of education. “When I became the student council sponsor at the high school, I saw that students responded when they were given a challenge. Even though they’re just teenagers, they have the ability to find solutions, set up new programs and make things happen. I know there’s a potential market of students who would thrive in a setting focused on leadership training.”

Face to face: Daniel’s face time at a national career fair resulted in a coveted internship with Procter & Gamble’s corporate university. He had applied online beforehand, but meeting a recruiter in person triggered the interview. “I handed him my resume packet and he said, ‘Oh, yeah, I saw you online. Let’s set up an interview.’ A week later I boarded a plane to Cincinnati, and I knew before Thanksgiving that I had my summer internship set.”

The TCU difference: This Stanford grad knows TCU MBAs stack up in the classroom, but they’re not the business school “sharks” you’ve been warned about. “People who come to TCU are looking for something different. They’re not necessarily looking for cutthroat corporate jobs. They want to collaborate, help each other and work well together. The academic talent is here. I learn from my classmates every day, but there’s no game where there has to be a winner and a loser. Everyone wins by collaborating.”

Powerful Alliance: Working on a Neeley & Associates Consulting team, he’s plotting the direction of Alliance, Texas, a global logistics hub and growing residential community outside Fort Worth. He flew with Hillwood real estate execs to California and Colorado to identify best practices in similar developments and to envision the city’s future infrastructure. “We’re recommending setting aside paths for a light rail, even though there’s no plan for one. It’s not a question of if, it’s when. I think Alliance is the place to be in the next 10 to 15 years. It’s a master-plan community that’s just beginning, so there’s a lot of potential.”

Join the club: Although he’s a full-time MBA student, he keeps one foot in teaching. He tutors TCU football players and is organizing a new club for students focused on the crux of education and business. “I want to bring in people managing the business side of education, from organizations like Teach for America or College Board. I only need nine other members to get started, so I might have to do some arm-twisting. But if I can’t convince nine people, I haven’t learned much at this school!”

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An internship with Procter & Gamble proved to be a living lab.

“You have these moments where you think, ‘Now I see how this strategy from class connects to this project.’ It all starts to relate to what you want to do in life.”
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