Mauricio Villena

Mauricio Villena

Tell us about your degree - why did you choose it? What elements of the degree inspired you to study it?       

I wanted to pursue my Masters degree in environmental and resource economics in a leading business school in the UK. At the time, the subject of environmental economics was rather new in economics departments, and I was really interested in using economic tools to help take care of our environment.

What was the best part of your studies here? What did you enjoy the most?    

The friendships I developed with my classmates and the quality of my professors. Besides Leeds and its people are truly wonderful, making Leeds University an excellent place to study.

What were your career aspirations when you arrived? Do you think the experience and skills you gained here will help/helped you in your future career plans? In what way?       

I wanted to pursue a PhD at either Cambridge or Oxford, and my studies at Leeds University Business School gave me a solid knowledge in my subject matter and helped me gain confidence in my abilities necessary to accomplish that goal. Thanks to my studies at Leeds I managed to get into Cambridge and obtain a PhD and an MPhil degree.

How has your career progressed since leaving the Business School? Have there been any notable highlights?

I am currently the Deputy Director of the Budget Office at the Ministry of Finance, Chile ( and Full Professor of Business and Public Policy at the Adolfo Ibáñez University, Chile. I was Interim Dean and Vice Dean of the School of Business, Adolfo Ibáñez University, Chile, where I have been affiliated since 2003.

I hold a PhD and an MPhil from The University of Cambridge, England, and an M.A. from Leeds University Business School. I also took graduate level courses at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and the Fondazione ENI Enrico Mattei (FEEM), Italy. I am an Industrial Engineer by training.

My main topics of interest are public policy and administration, applied microeconomics, microeconomic theory and econometrics, specializing in environmental and resource economics and sustainable development, behavioural and experimental economics, energy economics, education & labour markets, development economics and fiscal & monetary policy with a focus on Latin America.

I am an active researcher and have published my work in several international journals such as Journal of Business Research, Journal of Environmental Economics & Management, Journal of Economic Psychology, Journal of Applied Economics, Economics of Education Review, Economics Letters, Applied Economics Letters, Journal of Behaviour and Experimental Economics, Sustainability, CEPAL Review, Journal of Economic Issues among others.

In 1999 I was distinguished with the prize for the best essay in Institutional Economics, given by the Association for Evolutionary Economics, New York, USA. I have been awarded Chilean National Science Foundation Grants (Fondecyt Projects) in Economics for various subjects: in 2003 for research into the theory of evolutionary games, in 2006 for research into the area of environmental economics and in 2010 for a project on the economics of crime. I have also been a member of the Economics and Business Committee of The Chilean National Science Foundation Grant (Grupo de Estudios en Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas de Fondecyt, Chile). I currently am Associate Editor in Public Management of the WoS indexed Journal (Emerald): Academia Revista Latino americana de Administración, the most important academic journal in Management in the LATAM region.

I have taught at the University of Cambridge (England), University of Concepción (Chile), University of Adolfo Ibáñez (Chile), UCLA (USA), Florida International University (USA), ESADE Business School (Spain), Deusto Business School (Spain), INCAE Business School (Costa Rica), Pacifico Business School (Peru) among others. At Adolfo Ibañez University, I have been distinguished with the Pedro Ibáñez Medal for academic excellence in the years 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2010 and received the Best Professor Award in several MBA programmes: in the Multinational MBA, Adolfo Ibáñez School of Management, Miami, US in the years 2008 and 2013 and in the MMBA EY in Lima, Peru in 2011.

In terms of administrative duties at University level, I have been Interim Dean and Vice Dean of the Adolfo Ibáñez Business School, where I have been in charge of approving faculty recruitment, setting academic policies in teaching and research, overseeing the research budget, overseeing all the academic programmes of the School (over 30 postgraduate programmes), and other administrative activities. During my period as Vice Dean, the fulltime faculty of the School increased from 25 to 85 professors and the faculty research output grew from 15 articles (Thomson WoS) per year to about 46 articles (Thomson WoS) per year. I led the development and implementation of the set of rules concerning faculty promotion and research workload. I have also designed and implemented the reorganization of the School into Academic Areas and the policy for the development and operation of Centres within the Business School. I was also responsible for developing the programme portfolio of the School, creating the units of open enrolment courses, diplomas and PhD programs. I was also the leader of the accreditation team of the School, being a key participant in the School's Triple Crown accreditation achievement (AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS). I was also one of the leaders of the internationalization efforts of the Schools actively participating in the establishment of the School's campuses in Miami, US and Lima, Peru. I served as Interim Dean of the Adolfo Ibáñez Business School from November 2016 to March 2018.

In the private sector, I was Managing Partner of the Chilean consultancy firm: “SCL Econometrics”, where I carried out more than 70 consultancy studies for national and international companies and government agencies, which include: Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), CEPAL, SUBTEL, ENAP, CMET, USAID, Ministerio de Hacienda (Chile), Ministerio de Economía (Chile), European Union, CODELCO, CPC (Chile), TVN (Chile), Aguas Andinas, Lan Chile, SISS, Entel, Movistar, Storbox, CORFO, Socovesa, iConstruye, CONAMA, ODEPA (Chile), Ministerio de Energía (Chile), OECD, DIPRES (Chile), JAC (Chile), among others.

In the public sector, I served as Chief Economist of the Budget Office at the Chilean Ministry of Finance for the period 2010-2013. In this position I was head of the Microeconomic and Macroeconomic units within the Budget Office; a group of 14 economists in total. At the Micro level, the main tasks involved the design of public policies and the estimation of fiscal impacts of Government’s policies and programmes. At the Macro level, the main tasks involve overseeing the Government’s fiscal policy and the Structural balance Rule. Among the most important achievements in terms of participating in the formulation of public policies the following initiatives can be mentioned: reform to the medical licences system, new payment system for government's providers (Chile Paga), creation of the Under Secretary for Biodiversity, creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, law extending the postnatal period, law creating a monetary transfer aid program ("ingreso ético familiar"), reform to the teacher track ("carrera docente"), demunicipalization of public schools, financial reform of municipalities, reform of public funding systems to tertiary education students (CAE, Fondo Solidario, scholarship for undergraduate students), Government of Chile Scholarship for Graduate Studies, reform to the law of job accidents, reform eliminating pension fund payments for elderly people ("7% de la cotización de salud"), among others. In terms of contributions to the development and improvement of the Chilean fiscal policy, I have actively participated in the implementation of an improved fiscal rule based on the recommendations of an expert panel. Such work was published as follows: “Una Política Fiscal de Balance Estructural de Segunda Generación para Chile” with F. Larraín, R. Costa, R. Cerda and A. Tomaselli, Estudios de Finanzas Públicas, 2011, Nº18, Pages 1-78 (

Where are you currently working, and what is your role?           

I currently am the Deputy Director of the Budget Office at the Ministry of Finance, Chile (, being in charge of the team within the Budget Office (about 105 people) that participates in the evaluation, preparation, formulation and discussion in the Congress of the nation annual budget (about US$73 billons budget). Within my main duties I am one of the main advisors of the Director of the Budget Office.

What are your ambitions for the future?             

I would like to continue contributing to the development of my country either from a government or from academia.

Do you think your experience and skills gained here will help you in your future career plans? In what way?   

My experience gained at Leeds has been invaluable for me, not only in academic terms, but also for the people I met, with some of which I still keep in contact, and the perspective it gave me, allowing me to know more about an advanced country such as the United Kingdom, in a modern city, but still small enough to be very pleasant to live there.

If you are not from the UK, how was the transition to a foreign country? Did the university offer support or services that you found helpful? Can you offer any advice?         

Yes, indeed, the university provided me with accommodation services as well as very good English language for academic purposes course and induction to live and study in England.

What was your impression/experience of the facilities, the staff, your peers, the student union, the City of Leeds and the region itself? What would you recommend to future students?

My impression of the facilities, the staff, my peers, the student union, the City of Leeds and the region itself was excellent. In fact, now with my experience as an academic, having visited and studied in some of the best universities in the world, I think that Leeds University is indeed a world class institution, based in a modern and very welcoming city.

What would you say is your defining memory of studying here? (eg friendships made, confidence in your abilities, or any single event that you will always remember?) And would you recommend the Business School to others             

Studying was very hard, but I learnt a lot and met many interesting new people. I also remember learning more about the British people and their culture. I definitely would recommend Leeds University Business School to overseas students that want to pursue graduate studies in a world class institution.