Meet Kenan-Flagler’s MBA Class Of 2018


Paula Gomes

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Citizen of the world, music aficionado, goof-ball, passionate about using business to affect social change.

Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil

Fun Fact About Yourself: I can shamelessly recite various Disney movie monologues.

Undergraduate School and Major: Bucknell University, Business Management

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: (Listed oldest to most recent)

PNC Bank, Business Banking Relationship Manager

Citibank, Business Banking Officer

Language Intelligence, English Language Instructor

Fidelis Care New York, Marketing Representative

Corning Inc., Market Analyst 

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Having started my career in the commercial banking sector during the financial downturn, I completed a crash course in business. When I later joined Fidelis a non-profit health insurance organization working with underserved populations, I was able to put that training to good use. Teammates had expressed discomfort with sales calls, technology and high disengagement. I created job aids that clarified complex procedures, built trust with the representatives by becoming the point of contact to assist with unique scenarios via phone, and built confidence through joint sales calls. I initiated collaborative team meetings and round-table sharing of knowledge and peer trainings. Employees became more mutually helpful and were able to meet sales targets, creating a self-reinforcing cycle. A few teammates have moved into leadership roles in that organization. Although I have since left the company, I am proud my mentorship played a part in helping those individuals achieve their success.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? The MBA admissions process can be very stressful. For that reason, I recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to get your ducks in a row. You should also surround yourself with a strong network of cheerleaders. On the different components of the application here are my two cents:

The GMAT: STUDY, STUDY, STUDY! This test is a test of endurance; it is as much about time management as it is about knowledge. Step 1: Take a practice exam (I recommend the Manhattan GMAT), it’s the closest to the actual exam and offers great reports. Step 2: Create a robust study plan targeting your area of weakness. Step 3: Practice Practice, Practice. If you don’t see improvement, seek help from a tutor. I worked with SimplyBrilliant. This is a huge investment into your future, so while it can get expensive it’s worth the investment. Remember, the GMAT is one component of the admissions criteria. Therefore, do not get discouraged. Should standardized tests not be your forte, please do not let this keep you from applying to your dream program.

The ESSAY: Know the story you want to tell. Bounce ideas off those who know you best. This is your chance to show admissions you have done your homework and know the program and how you will add value to that community.

The Interview: Be yourself, albeit a polished version of your authentic self! This is as much your time to evaluate them as it is for them to evaluate you.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I was fortunate to get accepted into some amazing MBA programs. In the end, my decision came down to two schools similar in size, both with expansive alumni networks and resources. What tipped the scale in favor of UNC Kenan-Flagler was the community. I attended Experience Weekend and met some amazing future classmates who I instantly bonded with. When I later visited other programs, I found myself comparing them to the feeling of “this is home” I had when I visited UNC. Later, when I met my Consortium family – a diverse, collaborative and truly supportive group of individuals – at the Consortium Orientation Program, I knew I had made the right choice.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? My post MBA objective is to become a social entrepreneur at a socially responsible organization, such as the Honest Company, Starbucks or Unilever. Ultimately, I see my role in a firm as one where I am deciding which businesses to compete in; which level of diversification is right; and being responsible for sourcing strategic partnerships and developing the competitive strategy for entering new markets – maintaining that our suppliers and partnerships follow sustainable business practices that align with our goal as an organization.

The role would be one where I am actively involved in providing leadership throughout senior management level to continue support for CSR-led initiatives and ensure that program is aligned with business strategy and values. It is my belief that in order to be successful, a company must intersect with society in a constructive manner. In business, we have a responsibility to use our platform to deliver value to the shareholder but also to the communities in which we operate and society as a whole.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program?   Not only was Paula fierce in the pursuit of her ambitions, but also she was intensely supportive of her peers and a loyal friend.

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