April 23, 2024
Opening Doors

Photo: Danielle Margherite

Raul Duarte launched a boutique staffing firm in Miami after finishing FIU's executive MBA program. He says the program gave him the tools he needed to make his startup a success.

MBA Programs

Opening Doors

Nancy Dahlberg | 3/26/2024


To an outsider, it may have seemed like the wrong time for Raul Duarte to embark on an MBA. The pandemic forced the world into lockdown, his industry was imploding and he was planning to launch his own company, a full-time job in itself.

Born in Miami and raised by Cuban immigrants, Duarte majored in international business and finance as an undergrad at Florida International University. After working in accounting for a few years, he joined Fortune 500 staffing agency Robert Half and quickly rose to assistant vice president and division director. But coming from a family of business owners with immigrant hustle, entrepreneurship was in his DNA.

He says being part of the Professional MBA for Executives at FIU in late 2020 and 2021 opened many doors and gave him the tools to transition from being a senior manager in a large corporation to CEO of his own small company. “Whenever I had a question on launching or structuring the company, I had live access to the teachers,” he says. Sometimes his company-in-the-making even served as a real-time case study, such as one about building the financial budgets and corporate structure for a startup, and he could transfer all those lessons to his “living, breathing entity.

Duarte says his executive MBA education, which included a weeklong international residency, was more about the real world than theory. His professors were high-performing career professionals, such as Edgardo Pappacena, a former longtime senior partner at PwC who advised multinational companies on strategy. “He gave me a lot of ideas on operating methods and even how to penetrate certain markets,” says Duarte, who finished the program in late 2021 but still meets with Pappacena at least monthly to discuss strategies.

The 26 members in his MBA cohort have become lifelong contacts and friends. “I’m either doing business with or learning from my peers, who were all senior management or executive level professionals in finance, IT, operations, HR, etc. The sharing of ideas, the exposure of personal experience — everybody brought key components to the table,” says Duarte.

In early 2022, Duarte launched RTD Talent Solutions, a Miami-based boutique staffing firm. He specializes in executive recruiting for C-level and senior management, but he has a team of recruiters with specialties who can help clients seeking any level. “We’re designed more like a legal or accounting firm than the traditional transactional staffing firm. We’re very embedded with our clients.”

Since starting the business, Duarte has more than doubled his revenues, which are already in the seven figures. His team of eight works with more than 70 companies. “We’re very successful in the banking and financial services industry, but our next wave is going to be in the health care space, and eventually we want to push into the technology sector.”

Tags: Education, Feature, MBA Programs

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