2017 Best MBAs: Sylvia Banda, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Sylvia Banda

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

“I’m constantly trying to strike a balance between being incredibly passionate yet not too serious. Life is short!”

Age: 27

Hometown: Carmel, IN

Fun fact about yourself: I traveled to three continents as part of my MBA experience.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Notre Dame, B.A. Political Science

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

Investment Analyst, NEPC

Analyst, J.P. Morgan

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Dimensional Fund Advisors, Austin, Texas

Where will you be working after graduation? Dimensional Fund Advisors, Associate Portfolio Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Forté Foundation Fellow & Scholarship Recipient
  • Founder & Editor in Chief, Notre Dame MBA IRISH ECHOES student blog
  • President, Faith Development Committee
  • Vice-President, Notre Dame Net Impact Chapter
  • MBA Representative, Common Good Initiative Experience in Haiti
  • Investment Analyst, Notre Dame Applied Investment Management Portfolio
  • Team Uganda Member, Business on the Frontlines
  • MBA Student Mentor
  • Career Action Group Leader

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In the Fall of 2016, I traveled to Haiti as part of research in assisting Bon Sel Dayiti, a social venture tasked with eliminating a Neglected Tropical Disease in Haiti. While the work I conducted was in the form of a business case, I am beyond happy that it may provide insights that lead to better results for those afflicted with the ailment.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my time at NEPC, I was the lead analyst tasked with research regarding fee trends in the Investment Retirement Account space. The project was the largest survey the firm conducted to date and provided research to better inform Plan Sponsors of best practices for those they serve from an investment perspective.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Business on the Frontlines – Business is not simply an industry or a summation of transactions, but rather, an avenue for access. Business can and should be used as a force for good, particularly for those most vulnerable in society. In the class, we work with partners solving some of the world’s most complex challenges. It has truly been an honor working with and learning from them.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Notre Dame to ask more of business. You can learn the fundamentals of business at many business schools, but Notre Dame challenges students to think about how business can enhance the lives of others. Football Saturdays did not hurt either!

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? This is an easy answer. My classmates are the greatest. Interacting with and forming life-long friendships with truly inspiring individuals has fueled me for a lifetime. You will be hard pressed to find an environment as diverse and engaging as business school.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I am constantly surprised by how much I want to do in such little time!

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? It is not enough to demonstrate your qualifications from a skill-set perspective, but you must also demonstrate your curiosity as to why business matters for society.

What was your biggest regret in business school? That I didn’t have enough time to do more!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Mark Faldowski – He is a United States military veteran and leader by example. He constantly demonstrates a commitment to serving others. I am lucky to call him one of my closest friends in the MBA Program.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized the effort involved in being an extraordinary leader.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…in another post-graduate program (Public Policy).”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would have classes three days a week. Most of my learning has come from group meetings and time outside of the classroom.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To become an expert in financial services and eventually join the public sector through public service.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents — they are tireless supporters of all that I do in my life. Without them, I would not be where I am today. And my best friend—for always being a great encourager and listener.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who treated others with respect and tried to leave things better than how I found them.

Favorite book: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Favorite movie or television show: The Office

Favorite musical performer: Adele

Favorite vacation spot: New England in the summer

Hobbies? Travel, travel, travel. And running.

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

“Sylvia Banda exemplifies why it is a pleasure and privilege to teach Notre Dame MBA students and to learn from them. She is exceptionally bright and always eager to grow in knowledge and deep understanding. Her impressively high level of IQ is matched by an equally high level of EQ. She is highly motivated to learn and yet always has time to volunteer for extracurricular activities and to help others. She consistently has deeply insightful observations to share in classroom discussions and beyond, but is as eager to listen and learn from her classmates as she is to speak. She is as humble as she is talented, and she is among the most talented students I have taught in my 13 years at Notre Dame. She is a natural, values-driven leader of the sort that people follow not because they have to, but because they want to. Sylvia exemplifies all that is best in the Notre Dame MBA program in terms of talent, character, social skill, and generosity.  She is clearly among the best and the brightest.”

Joseph Holt

Associate Teaching Professor

Department of Management & Organization