The Spangler Cafeteria’s Secret Weapon? Its Staff Members

Edgard Mejico (MBA ’24) interviews Cesar Yepez and Carlos Arboleda, two members of the outstanding team working in the Spangler cafeteria.

Edgard Mejico Salinas, Editor-in-Chief

Every morning, after my 15 minute walk from home to campus, my mind buzzing with cases still left to read, networking events to attend, and text responses to send to family and friends back home, I walk into the Spangler cafeteria with a mission. There is only one thing that can help me survive the day. One precious, caffeinated liquid that will bring order to my mind and allow me to

fulfill whatever cheesy phrase I wrote to the big question we answered early in the semester: “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Each morning as I prepare my coffee, I bump into Cesar, the barista in charge of running Spangler’s operations as smoothly as the winning team of the Shad exercise. He asks me about how my day is going and we chat for a while. I am always happy to speak Spanish to a fellow Latin American. As I walk towards the seating area, I see Carlos, in charge of the cashier desk. He also asks me how I am doing and wishes me good luck. 

With the semester coming to a close, I realized how much I’ve shared about myself and my daily life with both of these men and the many other collaborators working in Spangler’s various dining and coffee stations. I decided to turn the tables and ask them the questions. What follows is a candid conversation about their own lives and experiences, and their advice to HBS students.

Tell me more about yourself. What drove you to the Boston area and working at HBS?

Cesar Yepez: I was born in Medellin, Colombia. I moved to the US in 1999, to Rhode Island, where my uncle lived with some cousins. Years later, a friend referred me to an open position to work on the team organizing HBS reunions and graduations, so I decided to apply and moved to Boston. Years later, I applied for a full time job and have been working in the cafe department for the past 12 years. I started in the Chao cafeteria on the PM schedule and then switched to Spangler as a barista for the past 5 years.

Carlos Arboleda

Carlos Arboleda: I’m from Colombia. I’ve been working at HBS for 7 years. Back home, I studied business administration with a finance specialization and I used to work in the banking industry for 10 years. I always wanted to meet students from Harvard because I admired their work ethic.

What do you think of the students and faculty of HBS?

Carlos Arboleda: I’m very happy to have interacted with students who are “geniuses” in their fields. All of them are really nice students, always willing to say hi. At this time of the year, I find myself feeling nostalgia for the EC students who are leaving. As a cashier, I interacted with them since they got here as RCs and over the years, got to know them better. I hope that their years at HBS were productive for their careers. I also get the opportunity to interact with professors. What I really appreciate about the culture here at HBS is that everyone is very respectful to us. Nobody is less or more than anyone else; it’s a culture of equality. 
Cesar Yepez: My experience with the HBS students has been magnificent. Everyone is friendly, very respectful. Personally, I enjoy exercising and running. And when I run into students at Shad or at the steps of the Stadium, they will always say hi. My favorite moment of the year with students is the graduation event. I’m part of the team that works on the events. Watching the students I’ve met for the past 2 years wearing their robes and holding their diplomas makes me so happy for them, and I

wish them the best on their new challenges ahead. And when they come back afterwards to visit or for reunions, I’m always so happy to see them back. 

You’re both from Colombia, where many RC students visit for spring break. What are your opinions on this trip?

Cesar Yepez

Cesar Yepez:  Makes me very happy that the Colombia trek is so popular and especially that students are visiting my hometown, Medellin. There are opportunities everywhere, and it’s very exciting that HBS students get to experience Colombian culture while learning about the country. 

Carlos Arboleda: I’m impressed with the publicity the trip has. My recognition goes to the Colombian students who have worked hard over the years promoting and organizing the trip and putting Colombia on the map to HBS students. 

What is your advice for HBS students?

Cesar Yepez:  Thank you for sharing these spaces with us. We are very grateful that you keep coming to the Spangler cafeteria and enjoy our offerings. And in a personal sense, thank you for always taking the time to say “hi” to us and befriend us. It speaks volumes of HBS students as people. Keep driving your entrepreneurship skills and keep strengthening your wings to fly even higher. 

Carlos Arboleda: To the EC students, cherish your memories here and always continue to be “human”. Be always grateful. And to the incoming students, make the most of your 2 years, it will feel like 5 minutes. This is an amazing place.

Edgard Mejico (MBA ’24) is originally from Lima, Peru. He graduated from Universidad del Pacifico, Peru with a degree in Business Engineering in 2016. Prior to the HBS MBA, he worked for six years in Brand Management and Sales in Colgate-Palmolive Latin America.