MBA Alum Steers Upset Victory in Panama Presidential Election

It's not every day that a school can tout that their alumnus was instrumental in shaping global politics, but this month George Mason's School of Business can say just that. MBA alum, Jonathan R. Snowling '11, recently spearheaded an upset victory for his client Juan Carlos Varela in the race for the Presidency of the Republic of Panama.

snowling-panamaA senior partner at the political marketing and corporate public relations group, SR Strategic Communications, Snowling has spent the last two years as a general consultant and campaign director helping to guide Varela's political campaign to impressive victories in both the 2013 presidential primary and the 2014 general election.

An impressive feat on its own, knowing the political climate makes this success shine even brighter. The fragility of Panama's democracy is still a major concern today. A U.S. invasion in 1989 ended the 21-year military dictatorship of Manuel Noriega. Since then, there have only been five free elections. Varela's win represents a major victory for democracy in Latin America as the fifth successful transition of power from a governing party to an opposition party in Panama.

So how did a Maryland native find his way to the middle of Panamanian politics? Snowling says that from a young age he was fascinated by politics, media and the art of film so it was a natural move to pursue a career in a field that combines each of those interests.

"We help our clients identify and strategically select the best target markets and enhance their brand positioning with the most effective selling proposition to achieve their goals," says Snowling.

With more than a decade of experience in corporate public relations and political campaign management, he has served as a campaign manager for state, federal, and international races in Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana, South Dakota, Washington state, and Central America. He develops winning strategies for political and public affairs campaigns through a combination of comprehensive research, strategic planning, and precision execution.

Much of Snowling's global experience came from his time in the Mason MBA program working on team projects and experiencing a weeklong global residency. He says, "The team projects fostered a rewarding collaboration and interaction with a truly diverse and talented group of individuals. A tremendous amount of knowledge can be gained by working together with students who have very different experience sets and business backgrounds since everyone is learning from each other."

snowling-panama-set"My time in Mason's Part-Time MBA program was an intensely demanding and rewarding period. I was surrounded by outstanding faculty and an amazing group of students who were constantly debating ideas, business concepts, and strategies. The students were focused and intent on getting the most out of the program and they were always willing to offer useful feedback and advice."

Snowling says it was his previous campaign experience that put him in the room at the Tysons Corner Ritz Carlton to meet then Vice President Varela and his inner circle. But it was the Mason MBA that helped him close the deal and convince his new clients to entrust their political futures in his hands.

"As much as I thought I knew what pursuing an MBA entailed, the Mason program pushed and challenged me at every turn to achieve beyond what I previously thought possible. The program forces you to apply a level of disciplined time management and determination that leaves with you the confidence to face any challenge in business."

What can we expect from Snowling in the future?

"The victory in the Varela race was a major milestone achievement for us in gaining our first set of international and major presidential level wins," says Snowling. "Naturally as the next longer term 'big goal' we would like to take the lead in guiding a U.S. presidential victory."

George Mason University School of Business

Ranked by U.S. News & World Report in the top 15 percent of all AACSB accredited business schools, the School of Business is one of only 10 percent of business schools worldwide that is accredited in both business and accounting by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.

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