MIT, Sloan School of Management
Every MBA student dreams of making an impact. At MIT Sloan, Elena Mendez-Escobar is changing hearts and minds. Armed with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics (Think Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory), Mendez-Escobar launched an educational program to help students understand how unconscious bias can poison their decision-making and relationships. But consciousness raising is just one part of Mendez-Escobar’s work. At MIT, she also taught the course Gender, Power, and Leadership in the Workplace, along with being a teaching assistant for Economic Analysis for Business Decisions (and the TA for the Winter Negotiation Workshop at the Harvard Law School). Besides all that, she managed to be the student representative on MIT Sloan’s Task Force for Gender Diversity and recently earned the school’s Graduate Women of Excellence Award.
Hometown: Madrid (Spain)
Undergraduate School: Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain
Undergraduate Degree: Physics
Other Education: Master in Theoretical Physics (University of Cambridge, UK); PhD in Theoretical Physics (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Where did you work before enrolling in business school? McKinsey & Company (Boston Office), Business Analyst
Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? MIT Sloan (Research Assistant), Topic: Healthcare Economics using Big Data
Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company (Boston Office), Associate
“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I visited Sloan and saw how empowered every student I met felt to pursue their wildest dreams.”
“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a Theoretical Physics Professor.”
What are your long-term professional goals? My dream job would be to run a large organization with a mission centered around social impact.
Favorite Courses: Applied Macroeconomics I & II (Professor Roberto Rigobon and Professor Tavneet Suri), Management of Services (Professor Zeynep Ton), and Negotiation Workshop (Harvard Law School)
Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? The scale and impact that we have achieved at MIT with our initiative on implicit bias called “Breaking the Mold.” I believe that we have had tremendous impact in raising awareness and providing tools to future business leaders to address the unwanted consequences of implicit bias, which is a powerful step towards achieving real meritocracy and diversity of our leadership groups.
Who would you most want to thank for your success? The list of people who have supported me, given me confidence, and been role models for me is so long that I would not know where to start. Beyond those who have been direct influences in my life, I would like to thank every person who has been brave enough to share their story of vulnerability and struggle with the rest of us. Whether it is in a book, movie, journalistic story, or in a spontaneous conversation, learning specific stories of failure and struggle has been critical for my success. These stories have illuminated possible paths that I did not know existed and given me permission to fail and continue trying.
Why did you choose this business school? I chose MIT Sloan because it excels at both of my two passions: science and management and because of its culture of collaboration.
What did you enjoy most about business school? The endless opportunities and resources to have impact and the time to pursue them.
What is your most memorable moment from business school? A very special Study Tour where we travelled to Israel and Palestine and visited private companies working towards solving extremely complex social issues and met the most passionate and inspiring individuals.
Fun fact about yourself: Growing up, I learned to make an insane amount of origami figures, including primary school award-winning Christmas cards, to compensate for my absolute lack of drawing skills.
Favorite book: One hundred years of solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Favorite movie: Memento.
Favorite musical performer: The Beatles
Favorite television show: Six Feet Under.
Favorite vacation spot: San Sebastian (Spain)
What are your hobbies? I love cooking with my husband and kids and having people over to share a good meal.
What made Elena such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?
“Elena Mendez-Escobar is an extraordinarily impressive woman: She is a physics Ph.D. turned McKinsey consultant who is not only excelling in her MBA studies but also raising two young children at the same time. But what really sets Elena apart as a member of the MBA Class of 2015 is the stellar vision and leadership she has demonstrated with the Breaking the Mold initiative at MIT.
As one of the leaders of the annual Sloan Women in Management conference, Elena understood that “Breaking the Mold” would be a powerful theme. More specifically, she was interested in educating the community about unconscious bias and offering people practical tools with which to address it.
She and her teammates wanted to extend their impact beyond the conference, though, and they also understood that unconscious bias is not just a “women’s issue.” As a result, Elena forged partnerships with faculty, staff, and graduate students across MIT and designed a series of themed events that took place throughout the fall semester and which culminated with the February conference. Many of these events were co-branded and co-sponsored with other groups. In the process, Elena made an enormous contribution to our collective understanding of unconscious bias and the need to address it in order to create optimal living, learning, and working communities for all.
Elena Mendez Escobar is already an accomplished scholar and professional; she will undoubtedly make an enormous positive impact on the world in the years ahead.”
– Catherine Gamon. Director of Student Life, MIT Sloan