2017 Best MBAs: Sebastian Serra, Stanford GSB

Sebastian Serra

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Perseverant, Hard-working, Enthusiastic, Team player, Courageous, Optimistic, Principled, Loyal, Reflective.”

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

Fun fact about yourself: I am obsessed with Mexico’s national soccer team.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Yale University, Bachelor of Arts in Economics, 2011

Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Master in Public Administration in International Development Candidate, Expected 2017

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Yale University’s Investments Office, New Haven, CT

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico City, Mexico

Where will you be working after graduation? To be Decided. 

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • 2017 Siebel Scholar
  • Executive Challenge Winning Squad Member
  • LowKeyNotes Speaker
  • Impact Labs Board Observer
  • Co-Founder Ten Financiera
  • Co-President Soccer Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During my first year at Stanford, I took a class called Design for Extreme Affordability. The class brings together business, law, engineering and medical students to work on designing interdisciplinary solutions to some of the world’s most challenging development problems. In the class, you work in teams of four to help a partner organization solve a problem they are facing in their work. My team was partnered with an organization that was producing organic fertilizer in the Philippines. Over the course of six months, we developed a financial and operational model to help expand the organization’s operations. Our work laid the foundations to create employment opportunities for rural and underworked farmers in the Philippines and reduced the use of chemical fertilizers in the region. The opportunity to work during my time at Stanford on something that was so unique but also so impactful was incredibly rewarding.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Before coming to business school, I worked at Yale University’s Investments Office, the office that invests Yale University’s endowment. During my time there, I worked on Yale’s natural resources portfolio. While the portfolio has historically consisted primarily of oil and gas assets, I helped source, analyze and due diligence opportunities in mining and agriculture, two sectors in which Yale had never invested. Yale eventually invested in some of the opportunities I identified. I am very proud that I helped contribute to Yale’s investment program by generating institutional knowledge in sectors where the office had less experience. More generally, I am hopeful that these investments will yield strong returns for Yale, which can in turn be used to give more financial aid to students or research grants to faculty.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Hanno Lustig taught me Advanced Finance during my first year in business school. I admired his passion for teaching and his continuous willingness to meet and support his students.

Why did you choose this business school? I decided to come to Stanford after visiting for admit weekend. The students I met inspired me. While everyone had very different backgrounds, everyone seemed to have a passion to do good in the world. Once I saw this, I knew I wanted to come here.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Learning from amazing people who all care deeply about one another and about doing something that will have a positive impact on the world.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I did not expect I would have to be strategic in how I spent my time. I quickly discovered that there are many things pulling on your time (academics, social, extracurricular, professional, etc.) and that you have to be very intentional about how you spend your time.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Take time to reflect on what you really want to do and how Stanford can help you do that. Once you do, you’ll have a much easier time writing your essays.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Stanford is that everyone wants to work in tech and start-ups. While there is certainly a bias towards this given the school’s location, I have been pleasantly surprised by the diversity of people’s interests.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had spent more time getting to know more of my professors.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire a lot of my classmates, but if I had to pick one it would be George Hodgin. George was in my section and leadership squad during our first year. He was a Navy Seal before coming back to school. I admire George because of his drive and determination, as well as his humility. He is someone who embodies servant leadership. I learn something new from him every time we spend time together.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I saw the value that people in Mexico gave to an MBA.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…in Mexico trying to do something that helps the country grow.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would increase the number of experiential leadership classes.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To be in a position where I can move between the public and private sectors in Mexico and help the country grow and develop.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family. They have always supported me in whatever I have tried to do.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Someone who cares deeply about his family, his country and his friends.

Favorite book: Loosing my Virginity by Richard Branson (currently)

Favorite movie or television show: Game of Thrones (Currently)

Favorite musical performer: Adele (Currently)

 Favorite vacation spot: Malinalco, Mexico.

 Hobbies? Soccer, cycling, running.

DON’T MISS: THE COMPLETE HONOR ROLL: BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS OF 2017

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