Duke University, Fuqua School of Business
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Undergraduate School and Major: ITBA (Buenos Aires Institute of Technology) – Industrial Engineer
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:
2014 to 2015 Philip Morris International – Senior Brand Executive
2011 to 2014 Philip Morris International – Market Research
2010 to 2011 Philip Morris International – Merchandiser
2009 to 2010 Philip Morris International – Brand Assistant
2007 to 2009 Procter and Gamble – ABM (Assistant Brand Manager)
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Don’t rush it. I prepared for the GMAT in very little time on top of being very busy at work—it was not ideal. If you can take your time to prepare for it, do it. I would also advise applicants to start taking the online practice tests that look just like the real thing earlier in the preparation process. GMAT is not only testing your IQ, but your endurance. It is a very long test. By the time I got to the last part of the real exam, I was exhausted, which made it harder to answer the last few questions. I could have prepared better for the endurance component.
Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? When I decided to apply for an MBA I went to every single school event that took place in my country, Argentina. There was one guy who said: ‘If you have the chance, go to the schools you’re planning to apply to, sit in the cafeteria, and talk to as many people as you can. If you feel comfortable, and feel like you share things in common with these people, then it might be the school for you.’
When it comes to top schools, each of them has pros and cons, but overall they will all help you get a great job, have a good MBA experience, and so on. That’s when the whole “fitting in” comes in. If all the schools are great, what should you really base your decision on?
I came to the States last December, during one of the busiest moments for first-year MBA students (i.e. Countless recruiting events and finals coming up). I visited many schools and had great time in all of them. But there was something special about Duke. I felt everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, from students to staff, was dying to meet me. They were all extremely helpful and friendly. I felt a chemistry with the students I couldn’t find anywhere else and had the feeling that they could be friends of mine even if we didn’t meet at school. That made the difference: The human factor. You want to feel comfortable, like you’re with a big group of friends. Coming from another country, I assumed I would feel lonely at some point, but it has been nothing like that. People are so welcoming and so eager to engage in conversation. To me, this is just as relevant as the quality of the education or how many job opportunities the school could provide.
What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? Have a strategy, but don’t be fake. I think that being honest about myself is what really made me come through during the admissions process. I really wanted to show who I was, instead of trying to make the admissions people think I was an astronaut with Olympic medals. You want to make sure that you’ll find the right fit for you. If you’re meant to be part of a specific school, trust me, you’ll make it. You want to show to the people reading your essays why you really think you belong there, so highlight the things in your personality and lifestyle that you know make you stand out from the rest.
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? People. As I said before, I keep seeing this smooth fit. I´m really comfortable around everyone, and I barely know them (the program started a few weeks ago). In Argentina, there´s a saying: “We were all cut out with the same scissors.” I feel that with the other students, from my fellow Latin Americans to my Indian classmates from the other side of the world. Although we come from different backgrounds, different countries, and mixed life experiences, we all get along. The best part is that it’s not forced and it’s not hard. Everything flows!
The outreach from the Admissions Office also made a difference. Unlike with other schools, before I even applied, I felt like Duke Admissions staff were really trying to get to know me and meet me, which felt very special to me.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I want to become a better professional and a better person. I am looking forward to taking the next step in my career, but I do believe that coming to Duke with its hugely diverse background will be an experience that will open up my mind in ways I cannot even begin to imagine. It’s only been a few weeks, but my life’s already been changed significantly. I’m meeting people from all over the world. My study group has a Japanese girl who was a TV correspondent, a Bosnian refugee who did business consulting, an accountant from Kazakhstan, a U.S. Marine Veteran who worked in tech, and a Canadian musical theater producer. My ultimate goal before graduation is to learn from their stories (and from my other classmates), and to have a broader perspective on life so I can become a better citizen of the world.