Executive MBA Student Leveraging Crummer MBA to Impact His Community

Dr. Ricardo Silva is a senior-level executive in the software-as-a-medical-device (SaMD) industry with deep ties to nonprofits, including serving as a senior consultant at the World Health Organization.

As an industry executive with over 15 years of experience in senior leadership roles, Dr. Ricardo Silva started his Crummer journey in the Executive MBA program this August.

With goals to continue impacting the Central Florida and Latin America communities, the Martin Bell Scholar is furthering his already extensive education to meet the demands of the post-COVD changing workforce.

Crummer News spoke with Dr. Silva about his academic journey, his devotion to giving back via the nonprofit community, and his Crummer experience as he approaches the end of his first semester.

You are very intertwined in both academia and industry. Can you share your academic background and how you’ve used that in industry throughout your career?

Dr. Silva: I received my undergraduate and Master’s degree from Simón Bolívar University in Venezuela, the most prestigious science and technology university in Venezuela. My Master’s degree is in biomedical engineering, with an emphasis in clinical engineering. From there, I became adjunct faculty at Simón Bolívar before coming  to the United States to pursue a PhD in neurosciences at Penn State University. I returned to Venezuela to join the faculty at Simón Bolívar and received my first exposure to clinical engineering as a service, there I directed a lab that was certified for medical devices accreditation (Equivalent to FDA).

In 2012, I left Venezuela for Ecuador as part of a program to bring senior scientists into the country. I helped with a ton of projects there, including becoming the provost of “17 de Julio” Superior Technical College. We established multiple joint ventures between the school and industries so that the students could complete that path to experiential education. We made deals with Microsoft, Cisco, Siemens, for example.

Building bridges between academia and business is what I’ve done my entire life. Turning industrial problems, into academic research and taking academic research and applying them into real world industry work.

Coming to the United States was a big adjustment for you and a pretty big reason to why you are pursuing a Crummer MBA. Can you share your experience with transitioning to the U.S. and finding Crummer?

Dr. Silva: In 2017, I came to the U.S. with my family; it was my first time moving here since my PHD. My wife had citizenship and our children did too, so I had a path to citizenship. When I came here, I realized the U.S. didn’t accept my experience in Venezuela and Ecuador as equal, so I had to reinvent myself. I went from provost of a college to landing small adjunct faculty jobs.

I took an entrepreneurial approach and started a nonprofit, the Foundation for Living, Wellness, and Health with my friend, colleague and mentor who was helping me get started in the United States. I also started up a couple of companies in which I serve as Chief Scientific Officer. I started up all of these projects right before COVID hit, and it disrupted everything. The skillsets of many of my colleagues started to become antiquated, so as an academic myself, I looked to grow my skills. Someone had to change, and it was going to be me.

As a Latino, as well as part of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Orlando, I learned about a discount for chamber members pursuing an MBA via an e-mail. That’s how I became a student in the Executive MBA program at Crummer.

What is it like to be behind the desk instead of teaching the class for the first time in so long? 

Being on the other side of the desk is fun. When you are a professor you never cease to learn, but there are times when you actually need someone with a different skillset to help push information into you. There’s a ton you can learn from just experiential learning, but the academic component, and learning through an academic perspective as an on-ramp to experiential learning is invaluable.

You are heavily involved in the nonprofit sector, working with the World Health Organization, serving on multiple boards, and founding one nonprofit. Can you share some of the current efforts you are focused on and why it’s so important for you to stay involved with nonprofits?

At the World Health Organization I am creating an expert system to help low-and-middle income countries on building a health budget. The system I’m working on produces an entire support system that includes trainings and courses, mostly in Latin America because that it where I’m from. Due to the geopolitical situation in Venezuela, it is not the country it used to be, so I am trying to give back in any way I can. My country used to be a place of opportunity and everyone could succeed through the academic system

I am also on the Board for the Central Florida HIMSS Chapter, which is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting a better understanding of health care information and management systems. I also serve as the President on the certification board for clinical engineering for the American College of Clinical Engineering.

Finally, how has your Crummer experience been so far?

For me as an academic, the Crummer School of Business is on the right path. There are a lot of academic institutions that only look into themselves; everything happens behind closed doors. They are disconnected from the world outside and from reality. Even though they produce new knowledge, a lot of times it’s not applicable to society because they are disconnected from industry.

Something I found good about the Crummer Graduate School of Business, is its involvement with industry and society. The fact the theory is applied, is extremely important. That’s one of the most important qualities of any academic institution is when they bridge the world outside and their needs in society along with what is happening inside the classroom.

About the featured photo: Ricardo Silva and his Executive MBA 42 class on a class break with adjunct instructor Dr. Mark Hertling.