Tepper MBA Graduate Named to “101 Most Influential Latino Leaders” List
Eduardo Tobon Works to Strengthen BMO’s Commitment to Economic Equity in the U.S.
In August 2022, Eduardo Tobon (MBA, 2000) became Director of the Economic Equity Advisory Group (EEAG) at BMO Commercial Bank, the fourth largest commercial bank in North America. He’s charged with the responsibility of expanding BMO’s U.S. market share with Latino and Black-led and owned companies.
BMO set a goal to invest $5 billion over five years in black and brown owned companies in keeping with the social justice movement that re-ignited in the wake of George Floyd’s 2020 murder in Minneapolis. Research conducted by Latino Leaders Magazine in conjunction with BMO identified 200 of the largest Latino-owned U.S. companies and compiled The Index200.
Investing in Hispanic/Latino-led Companies’ Success
“Companies want to do things differently and have a larger impact,” Eduardo says. “BMO accomplished our [initial] goal in two years, not five. In November 2022, we started again at zero with a goal of investing $40 billion over five years as part of BMO’s comprehensive Community Benefits Plan.” This year, BMO also hosted receptions in Dallas, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles to promote the largest Latino-owned companies.
Despite his integral role in this initiative, Eduardo was surprised to be named one of the “101 Most Influential Latino Leaders” in the July/August 2023 issue of Latino Magazine.
“They felt the impact I’ve had by co-creating with them the Index200 – now aiming to grow to 500 companies – is making a huge difference in the U.S. and will continue to do so,” he says. “They wanted to highlight that work, but I had no idea they were adding me to the list.”
Early Inspirations, Continued Striving
Eduardo grew up in Medellin, Colombia, and both parents were first-generation college graduates. One of the first female attorneys in her country, his mother was also the first female president of one of Colombia’s largest universities. His father owned his own law firm in the private sector and served as a political advisor and commentator.
Though Eduardo didn’t want a career in law, his parents’ drive for advancement and education provided a strong example. He and his future wife were both engineering students, and while working at Procter & Gamble in Colombia, he realized earning an MBA would accelerate his career. He looked at various programs and Tepper School of Business stood out.
“As an engineer, I really liked how engineers were taught to solve problems, and Carnegie Mellon’s MBA was well known for combining quantitative and qualitative skills. The program was based on science more than art.” He and his wife moved to Pittsburgh in 1998 and now reside in Chicago with their three children.
Bilingual and Bicultural Assets
Eduardo thrives in an atmosphere of growth and cooperation and is a leader who values networking and paying it forward.
“I call it luck when preparation meets opportunity. You can’t always predict if or how opportunities will show up, but when they do, that’s when magic occurs.” And, he says, his great pride in his heritage will always be a part of the equation of who he is.
Banking, Eduardo believes, is not just about access to capital: It’s about trust and serving as engines for creativity and innovation.
Tepper Played a Key Role in His Evolution to Leadership
Eduardo credits his time studying at Tepper, and his recent role as President of the Tepper Alumni Board, for preparing him to make an impact.
He liked Tepper’s way of teaching MBA students, which he says mixes traditional case studies with unique problem-solving skills to help students advance their careers. “It’s a very pragmatic program. The size of the program felt right, its focus felt right, this was the right program for me from the beginning,” he says.
“My leadership style is a combination of decisiveness, knowledge of myself and self-confidence. I’m comfortable being who I am, and I surround myself with people who complement and supplement me.”
“I see things as more positive than negative, though there are plenty of challenges ahead,” he says. “Good leaders help us navigate through them and I like to be one of them.”
“I’m enjoying myself now the most I have in my career, though there are days when I question my sanity,” he laughs. “I’m at a good spot in my career and in my life. I’ve always been entrepreneurial and [appreciate] how BMO can leverage someone like me to land the plane while challenging the status quo and influencing society. I can be a change agent.”
Perspective and Advice
He advises graduates embarking on a career to “consider the impact you can have. I’ve benefited from many people who were very generous with their time and advice, and young people can provide something of value when they reach out for mentorship,” he says, citing expertise in technology or local geography. “It’s not just what’s in it for you but what’s in it for the other person too. You can pay it forward for others.”
His recent 50th birthday, and the death of another mid-career alumnus, Bruce Gebhardt, highlighted that life can be shorter than expected. “Bruce was such a generous person — with his time, money, leadership — and involved in Tepper Alumni Board projects to advance others. I like to be involved in meaningful projects. That gives me motivation.”
And so does his wife, Victoria. “She’s my executive coach, my best motivator. She brings a lot of value, from her perspective as a Latina, and other perspectives I don’t have. She keeps me going, and I do the same for her.”