2017 MBAs To Watch: Alejandra Rodado Argote, Northwestern (Kellogg)

Alejandra Rodado Argote

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“I am an outgoing Colombian woman who loves to dance.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia

Fun fact about yourself: I spent part of my childhood and early teen years living in one of Colombia’s most dangerous areas, in terms of guerrilla influence. What I saw and lived in those years has shaped my view of the world and my take on what truly matters to me.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Universidad de Los Andes, Bachelors of Science in Industrial Engineering.

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? International Finance Corporation – World Bank Group, Infrastructure Investment Analyst for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Morgan Stanley, New York.

Where will you be working after graduation? Morgan Stanley, Associate in the Investment Banking Division.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Investment banking Interview Prep Group leader (student led initiative that helps first year students navigate the internship recruiting process), 2016 – 2017.
  • Finance Officer of the Kellogg Tennis Club, 2016 – 2017.
  • Morgan Stanley MBA Fellow
  • Morgan Stanley Student Ambassador
  • First year director for the Latin American, Hispanic and Iberian Management Association, 2015 – 2016.
  • Investment Banking New York Trek leader, 2015.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? One of my goals at the beginning of my MBA was to learn to play tennis, but I soon realized that the Kellogg tennis club was perceived as ‘exclusively’ for very good tennis players, and that was very intimidating. I decided to join the Kellogg tennis club leadership in order to change this perception, and make of the tennis club a more inclusive one, where all levels were welcome. I am very proud to say that we achieved this and we now have tournaments and hitting sessions for all levels, and tennis clinics for beginners. Turnout for club events has increased significantly this year!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I started working at IFC, I was confident about my technical skills but was very inexperienced in client management. After a year of hard work, I had won over the confidence of c-suite executives of several companies where IFC had invested in and I became the main point of contact and Portfolio Officer for those companies.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Kellogg has incredible faculty, but Sergio Rebelo, Professor of International Finance, and Mitchell Petersen, Professor of Accelerated Corporate Finance, really stand out. Prof. Petersen mixes academic rigor with story-telling and humor, which makes up for a truly engaging class. I was impressed by Prof. Rebelo’s ability of linking the class concepts with their practical implications and his keen interest on students succeeding in recruiting.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? The question of ethics in business is as relevant as it has ever been, and still, I have not encountered many business people who ask the appropriate questions or challenge business principles on the grounds of ethics. Professor David Matsa’s Thought Leadership Seminar on Current Issues on Business and Society was a wonderful course that made us reflect upon relevant topics that matter to us as business leaders, and to the people who will be impacted by our decisions.

Why did you choose this business school? Kellogg’s holistic take on business leaders. Kellogg interviews every single applicant which is a testament to how much the school acknowledges that brilliant leaders cannot be solely identified from reading essays or from a GMAT score. The result is a class where you find incredibly smart people, who at the same time are kind, considerate and open to sharing their experiences.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The ability of shaping my own MBA experience. Kellogg has a diverse pool of extracurricular activities, leadership opportunities, and academic engagements. For me, these past two years have been about balancing everything that I wanted to do, and the flexibility of the program has allowed me to achieve this.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? How insightful second year students’ advice is and how appreciative first year students are. I approached Academic Advising or the Career Management Center whenever I needed advice about academics or recruiting. These were, without a doubt, useful resources. To my surprise, the most insightful advice came from second year students, who had already navigated through the hurdles that first years were going through. It was then when I understood where the pay-it-forward culture came from. As a second year, I tried to be as helpful as possible and I was again surprised by how appreciative first year students are of this advice.  

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Take advantage of the opportunity of broadening your skills set. It is very easy to gravitate towards the classes and activities that are aligned with our previous experience. Looking back, I am very glad to have a wider perspective and a more complete tool box to analyze any business or personal situation.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That Kellogg is only for people interested in marketing. Kellogg does a great job at attracting world-renowned faculty for all of its academic departments. Actually, some of the classes and professors with the highest student ratings (and that I have personally enjoyed the most) are from the finance and strategy departments.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Stressing out about things that ended up working out. I was very new to the concept of networking for recruiting, and I kept wondering if I was doing it right. Networking shouldn’t cause so much stress! Luckily I followed the advice of just being myself, and everything worked out.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It’s impossible to choose just one. Some of the smartest and kindest friends that I have are Chris Baker and Isabella Gallo, who juggle the very full Kellogg schedule with taking wonderful care of their beautiful two-year-old, Carla. I am also taken aback by the level of commitment and sense of responsibility that Felipe Boada puts into everything he does. I have not yet met anyone else with his passion for what he does and his drive to achieve the hardest goals.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I visited Evanston. I fell in love with how welcoming the students and faculty were and with their willingness to share their experiences.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…in Washington DC, probably working in IFC’s Global Transportation team. I enjoyed working with the team in the few projects that we did together and definitely wanted explore the industry in other markets besides Latin America.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would increase the offerings of Thought Leadership Seminars. These are small discussion based classes, of maximum 15 students plus the professor. As the name indicates, these are meant to be thought provoking and deeply engaging.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I see myself in Colombia in the long term, working towards advancing the country from the private sector. There are a number of roles that could achieve this goal, and if I had to choose right now, I would like to be the chief executive of a clean energy company in Colombia.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? The list is long! I am a firm believer of teamwork, and I am here today thanks to the effort of an entire group of people, including myself. My husband and my sister definitely top the list. They have pushed me beyond my mental limits time-and-time again. Of course, I include my parents for their infinite wisdom and foresight. Many sacrifices were made along the way, in the name of a better education for both me and my sister, and I could not thank them enough for those decisions. Of course, none of this could have been possible without the opportunities that God has given (and keeps giving) us.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who kept a good sense of humor even in the toughest times.

Favorite book: This is probably the hardest question to answer. I can’t really choose between El Amor en los Tiempos del Cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera), by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira (Blindness), by Jose Saramago; and El Imperio Eres Tú (The Empire is You) by Javier Moro.

Favorite movie or television show: The Sound of Music

Favorite musical performer: Monsieur Periné, Carlos Vives and Queen.

Favorite vacation spot: Subachoque, Colombia.

Hobbies? I love reading, running, biking, swimming and playing tennis.

What made Alejandra such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“It’s been a pleasure getting to know Alejandra through her participation in my thought leadership seminar, Contemporary Issues in Business and Society. During class discussions, she was a very impressive thought leader, speaking up and pushing other students with penetrating, thought-provoking questions. She consistently brought new insights to the topics. For example, she led an insightful, in-class discussion about challenges inherent in the self-regulation of shared-economy platforms. Alejandra’s fresh approach to learning, engagement in the classroom, and leadership qualities make her an exemplary model of what it means to be a Kellogg MBA student and show why she would be a wonderful recipient of this award.”

David Matsa
Associate Professor of Finance
Kellogg School of Management

 

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