01 Jun 1998
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José Royo

Technically Overqualified
by Eileen McCluskey; photograph by Webb Chappell

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José Royo leaves footprints nearly everywhere he goes. A native of Spain, Royo was studying for his Ph.D. in East Asian studies at Harvard when he applied for a support job in information technology at the Business School in 1990. With his background in multiple programming languages, "they told me I was overqualified," Royo says, "but they took a chance on me anyway."

During his five-year tenure in that position, Royo played a significant role in developing a state-of-the-art intranet system at the School that provides those within the extended HBS community with access to an impressive array of academic and administrative online resources. It has changed the way students, faculty, staff, and alumni communicate. The project also changed Royo's career aspirations.

While working at the Business School, Royo, who is fluent in Japanese, completed his Ph.D. in East Asian languages and civilizations in about five years, writing his dissertation on the works of Nobel Prize-winning Japanese writer Oe Kenzaburo. Simultaneously, he taught several undergraduate courses and supervised a large group of teaching fellows in Harvard's East Asian Studies Department. Rather than opting for a career in teaching or research, however, he was drawn more deeply into information technology, an area he saw as having "a broader impact."

Royo's job brought him into close contact with a number of HBS faculty, among them future Dean Kim B. Clark and Professor Steven C. Wheelwright, with whom he worked closely during the School's technological revamping. He credits both with influencing his decision to enter the MBA Program.

Over the last eighteen months, in his role as student chair of both the MBA Academic and Educational Committees, Royo has had continued contact with Wheelwright, who heads the MBA Program. "The Academic Committee has had broad impact in areas such as course development, where we have advocated more international cases and more cases with women protagonists," he says. Royo has also worked with Professor Ed Zschau to integrate student feedback into a new version of the General Management course, and he has conducted research with Assistant Professor Robert D. Austin.

Royo credits his parents, who instilled in him a sense of responsibility about giving back to the community, for his ambitious extracurricular involvement at HBS. His volunteer work also included serving local community organizations such as the Big Brothers of Greater Boston and Concilio Hispano.

Upon graduation, Royo plans to weave together his teaching skills and his love of information technology at Trilogy, a firm based in Austin, Texas, where one of his responsibilities will be teaching high-tech skills to college graduates. "It's an ideal job, because it will allow me to work closely with software developers, have a hand in marketing and sales, and play a role in the education of new employees," he explains.

But don't ask for a plan that extends too far into the future. "I like facing unexpected situations that allow me to grow personally and professionally," Royo says. "Predictability and routine run counter to that."

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