Meet the mentor: Ricardo Velez on learning to unlearn and relearn

The HST Mentor Program was launched with the aim of creating an environment of collaborative learning between graduates and current students. This regular check-in gives students an opportunity to ask all their questions about navigating their programs.

The HST Mentor Program is a great opportunity to meet someone with similar professional interests and carve out your own path with the help of others. In this meet-the-mentor piece, we interviewed Master in Customer Experience & Innovation alum, Ricardo Velez. This mentor, engineer, entrepreneur, and future teacher gives us some excellent insights about his experience at HST, in the mentor program, and his professional journey. Check it out!

Please give us a brief introduction about yourself. Where are you from, what did you study, what are you working in currently?

I am from Colombia, and I studied the Master in Customer Experience & Innovation in the 2019-2020 intake. I am currently setting up my own consultancy firm and working on building a project around democratizing sustainable product information of food products.

What inspired you to become a mentor?

I wanted to stay connected with HST, I like helping people, and in the future, I would like to teach, so this is a fantastic opportunity to start that journey to become a teacher. 

What has been your key takeaway from the Master in Customer Experience & Innovation?

My biggest lesson is the importance of a deep understanding of the problem rather than the solution. My background in engineering led me to go straight to “solution space”; the master’s taught me to take a step back and understand the problem in a much deeper way. 

What kind of person would fit perfectly with the program?

Open-minded people. But really open-minded! You need to be welcoming of new ideas and learn to unlearn and relearn.

How did the program affect your comfort zone?

Yes, I remember a couple of classes that, when it ended, I had to come up to the teachers and ask why they were teaching us some concepts because I did not understand what their goal was. I wanted to understand how they think, why they thought it was valuable, and thus incorporate that knowledge into my toolkit.  

How important were your classmates in your learning process?

Very important. It is a program focused on group work. We were remarkably diverse, and you learn hard and soft skills from absolutely everyone.

Is there any specifically surprising thing that you’ve been using in your professional life that you learned while in the program?

As I am building my ventures, I am using a lot of the tools learned in the Master in Customer Experience & Innovation. I can’t say that there is a specific surprising one, but more generally the combination of all the different tools I gained in the different classes. 

Ricardo Velez is Co-Founder of HCKD Studio, a customer experience consultancy, and Impact Quest, a sustainability and nutrition hub for consumers. He has seven years of experience in big-four consultancy firms and the travel and leisure industries. He is committed to delivering value to a company’s triple bottom line (people, profit, and planet) creating solutions for their most challenging issues. Connect with him on LinkedIn.