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February 20, 2024

Pato Bichara, Winner of the 2024 GCL Impact Award, is Revolutionizing Professional Education in Latam

Patricio “Pato” Bichara Assad (GCL 2009, Mexico), Founder and CEO of Collective Academy, has been awarded the 2024 GCL Impact Award. Through his initiative, Collective Academy, Pato is spearheading a revolutionary approach to professional and corporate education in Mexico and Latin America. His leadership and vision have been key in designing and implementing cutting-edge practical learning platforms tailored to the evolving needs of professionals in the region.

Pato Bichara addressing the Collective Academy team
Pato Bichara addressing the Collective Academy team

By: Ana Gomez Garces (B'25)

In 2009, after graduating from college as an industrial engineer, Pato took part in LALP’s Global Competitiveness Leadership (GCL) program. This experience expanded his comprehension of the region, revealing that each country is very similar yet different from each other. Exposure to a global program helped him realize that leaders are not confined to a single sector, rather they can operate within the social, government and private sectors interchangeably. His original GCL project merged the social sector with volunteer opportunities, showcasing the interconnectedness of leadership across various domains.  

"In GCL, I discovered that I can be a trisector athlete and make an impact in the region.” - Pato Bichara

After his GCL program experience in 2009, Pato worked as an Associate Consulting for Bain & Company.  There, Pato discovered the lack of a clear job pipeline and awareness of career opportunities among Latin America’s college graduates. There was an immense difference between attending a university in the United States, he noticed, where students are constantly exposed to summer internship opportunities and company information sessions, versus attending one in Latin America, where most people graduate from a degree without a previous internship experience, a full time job, or ideas on how to find one. Later, when he worked in the world of venture capital, he noticed the lack of entrepreneurial innovations in education and lack of transformational leadership across Latin American companies. These experiences led to Pato’s call to bridge the gaps between the abilities that corporate leaders in Latin America needed and the skills that universities in the region were developing. So after graduating from Harvard Business School, in 2015 Pato decided to launch Collective Academy with the vision of creating “Latin America’s university of the future”, shifting the paradigm and approach to professional education. In contrast to more traditional educational institutions, Pato envisioned the clients to be the regional companies and businesses who were rapidly growing and seeking top talent, and saw the young learners as the end-product Collective Academy could offer them.

Initially, Pato’s idea was to develop an undergraduate program, but what he envisioned did not comply with the government requirements to be officially accredited. Thus, Collective Academy shifted to offer a Master's in Business & Technology, designed as an expedited route for decision-makers, emphasizing their capacity to influence the future of business. The program is taught by actual practitioners in their respective fields and large corporations that are shaping the future of the corporate and technology world of the region. Among them are innovative leaders from corporations such as Grupo Bimbo, CEMEX, BBVA, and scale-ups like Bitso and Kueski, among others. The MBT is aimed at “aprendedores”, how Collective Academy students are referred to, and they come from Toronto to Buenos Aires, although to date 70% are from Mexico. The evening online classes make the program accessible to many of the demographics facing barriers to pursuing a Master’s education, such as working mothers. Launched in 2016, this part-time MBT offers an innovative and affordable solution and has become one of the most valued offerings in Mexico.

 "Our goal is to consider how to bring the opportunity for quality education to people who might not have access to it due to their circumstances."​ - Pato Bichara

Pato presenting during Collective Academy's Colombia 4.0 AI Edition Program
Pato presenting during Collective Academy's Colombia 4.0 AI Edition Program

Three years after the launch of the MBT program, BBVA approached Collective Academy seeking executive education for its company’s employees. They sought to develop tailor-made corporate courses to enhance their managers in an agile and focused way.  Collective Academy crafted and hosted a course that taught managers various skills, including presentation techniques, effective feedback delivery, effective learning strategies, leadership and management techniques, and coaching ethos, among others. This marked the beginning of Collective Academy’s expansion into offering specialized courses for both corporations and individuals, aimed at reinforcing specific skills and abilities.  Their strategic alliance approach is centered on “show don’t tell”. They prioritize creating products and programs that add value to the companies where their students eventually work. This approach caught the attention of larger, established companies that witnessed the positive outcomes experienced by their employees who had undergone Collective Academy training, prompting them to seek collaboration opportunities. Recently, Collective Academy has also begun collaborating with various government agencies. 

Since 2016, Collective Academy has made a significant impact in the region, with 700 MBT alumni to date, and 12,000 individuals who have completed corporate programs. What began as a team of three has now expanded to include 31 individuals, with 70% of them being women. Recognizing that the future is evolving rapidly, Collective Academy is committed to staying ahead of these transformations through its programs, teams, and internal operations.   

“The future of business in Latin America is very different from what it has been historically" - Pato Bichara

Although it’s been over 15 years since his participation in the GCL program, Pato continues to be actively engaged in the GCL alumni network and currently serves as a “mentor for mentors” for the 2023 and 2024 GCL cohorts, offering training sessions to GCL alumni who serve as GCL program mentors to new participants. Pato finds great satisfaction in this role as he equips GCL mentors with tools that they can then utilize with their mentees, and appreciates the opportunity to give back to the network and interact with diverse cohorts comprising extraordinary individuals working across all three sectors. Pato’s advice to current and future cohorts is: 

“Do not try to categorize yourselves within an industry and do not rush because good things take time…” and “... stay involved and close to the GCL network" - Pato Bichara

The GCL Impact Award recognizes alumni of the Global Competitiveness Leadership (GCL) program who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting the multiplier effect in the Latin American region. This annual recognition represents the highest recognition LALP grants to alumni and comes with honor and responsibility. Alumni winners become role models for current and future generations of LALP and serve as ambassadors of LALP’s mission and programs. Pato has demonstrated innovative leadership through Collective Academy, contributing to transforming professional education in Latin America. This initiative generates a significant socio-economic impact in the region. The tangible results achieved by Collective Academy so far, along with the formation of crucial strategic alliances, highlight the multiplier effect of this endeavor across Latin America. 

Congratulations, Pato! From LALP, we eagerly anticipate staying updated on Collective Academy's achievements and take pride in your accomplishments so far. You now bear the mission of serving as a role model and ambassador for past, current, and future generations of LALP.


Pato Bichara holds a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering with the highest honors from Georgia Tech and Monterrey Tech (ITESM), and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School with the support of a Fulbright-García Robles Scholarship. Previous to Collective Academy, his was part of IGNIA’s investment team, Mexico’s largest Venture Capital fund, and began his career as a consultant at Bain & Company. Pato has been recognized for his leadership as an Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year and one of Expansión 30 business promises in Mexico, among other awards. In addition to his role at Collective Academy, Pato is a partner in Xochi Ventures, a VC fund focused on accelerating disruptive companies in Latin America, and an active member of McKinsey & Company’s Global Consortium for Learning Innovation.