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The man is fast. Ricardo Capilla proved that at VCU School of Business, when he was named CAA Soccer Player of the Year in 1998. Again at Airbus, he ascended rapidly through the ranks from regional sales representative to CEO of Airbus Mexico. And now — 19 years after leaving VCU with both a B.S. in Marketing and an M.B.A. in Management & Entrepreneurship and Business Administration — Capilla has scored an Alumni Star award for achievement of international distinction.

Capilla jetted up from Mexico to accept the prestigious award on November 7 – where he credited VCU with helping him develop a foundation for success. Despite his busy schedule, he stayed over until the next day to teach a management 303 course on Creativity and Ideation. “Attending college is a privilege,” he reminded the students. 

Thanks to VCU

In fact, Capilla says, VCU was influential in both his personal and professional life. VCU is where he met his wife. It is where he learned work/life balance as a scholarship student athlete. And through his participation in the VCU/Ecole Superieure de Commerce in Marseille, France, it is where he first experienced the challenging world of international business. Today, he says, “I am the person that was shaped while at VCU.”

Opportunity at Airbus

After college, Capilla joined Airbus (then known as Eurocopter Mexico), a top international aeronautical company. Today, Airbus is the commercial aviation market leader in Mexico, with more than 60% market share of the country’s in-service fleet. Capilla served in various positions within the organization, functioning efficiently in several countries while speaking three different languages. Eventually he returned to his native Mexico to assume the role of head of country and serve as lead representative and managing director. Now the new CEO is considered one of the top leaders in the country. “When your values are strong,” he maintains, “you can never go wrong.”

Challenges Ahead

“Ricardo truly exemplifies what it means to be an Alumni Star,” says Dean Ed Grier with pride. Although the award has been given periodically since 1989, the 2019 recipients are notable for their diversity. Sixty years separate the youngest and oldest; seven alumni hold two or more VCU degrees; and 41% are from a minority population.

And so, award in hand, Capilla returns to Mexico, where his mandate is clear. According to Airbus, the company’s challenge is to “design the future of flight.” They couldn’t have picked a faster rising star.


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