2017 MBAs To Watch: Ana Carolina Lopez Pinaya, U.C.-Davis

Ana Carolina Lopez Pinaya

University of California, Davis – Graduate School of Management

“Passionate and persistent, I am hard-working and constantly seek opportunities to learn and grow.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Santo Andre-SP, Brazil

Fun fact about yourself: When I was living in Europe, I surprised one of my friends with a day trip to Dublin on Saint Patrick’s day for her birthday. We left London on the first flight and got back in the last, to be able to enjoy the true experience of the festival.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Bachelor in International Relations – Universidade de Sao Paulo

MSc. In Economics of Science and Innovation – Barcelona Graduate School of Management

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I worked at Procter & Gamble for six years. I started as an intern and left the company as Finance Manager for the Pet Care division in Mexico. My movement was due to the acquisition of the division by Mars Inc. During the year after I left P&G, I worked for Mars Mexico as Finance Manager for Eukanuba and lead the brand integration project in the country.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Driscoll’s – Watsonville – CA

Where will you be working after graduation? I am still looking for the right opportunity.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: During my time in the MBA, I got involved with several organizations. I was International Co-Lead for the school’s Ambassadors program. Ambassadors work with admissions to improve school reach, host prospective students that visit the campus and serve as a resource to help them with any questions they might have.

I was involved with UC Davis MBA Students’ Association (ASM), as the Director of Finance and Operations, and served in the Board of two student-run clubs: Entrepreneurship and Innovation Association and Women in Leadership.

As part of UC Davis Board Fellowship Program, I spent a year in the Board of Watermark as an observer. Watermark is a Non-Profit Organization in the Bay Area and its mission is to increase the number of women in leadership positions by empowering its members to make their mark.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In the spring of 2016, during my first-year in business school, I worked with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Association and Career Development to organize the first UC Davis Start-up Career Fair.

Many students in my class were interested in working with start-ups and we had attended a start-up fair in Berkeley in the Winter Quarter. I believed it would be possible to bring a similar event to Davis with start-ups from both Sacramento and the Bay Area that were looking for talent. The fair would be open for both the MBA students and the whole campus community.

The event was a great success. We were able to attract 12 start-ups from the region that were in different stages of development and focused in a variety of industries, including, food, education, entertainment, and data analytics. We also counted with the participation of 80 students from several majors. We are currently planning the second edition of the event for the Spring of 2017.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The achievement I am proudest of was my role in helping P&G Brazil recover about $3 million dollars in incorrect payments to a vendor.

Import costs were consistently much higher than forecast. It was a very complicated item of the P&L to analyze, since it was processed by a regional group and no details were given in the accounting entry. One had to go into the detail of the support documents of each invoice to have a perspective of what was being charged. And that was what I did.

After analyzing a few invoices, each with between 60 and 100 pages of support documentation, I was able to identify that the logistic partner was double charging us on a specific tax. The error was not in my category either. I was able to show that it affected most imports to P&G Brazil in the previous few months. I brought the issue to the attention of senior management and after extensive analysis the company was able to recover all excess payments.

I am very proud of this achievement as I was able to have an impact that surpassed the category I was working on, and also trigger a change on the way imports costs were being controlled for the country for the better.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Chih-Ling Tsai. Professor Tsai teaches Statistics II and III, but he goes much further. Besides having deep knowledge of statistics and conducting breakthrough research in Big Data, Professor Tsai sees teaching as an opportunity to mold the future. He insists that students not only understand statistic concepts, but are able to “explain it to grandma” and to develop meaningful business insights from data analysis.

His humility and dedication are an inspiration for every UC Davis student who has the privilege to attend his classes. I admire the deep commitment he shows to the students and the UC Davis GSM community.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite MBA course was Technology Competition and Strategy. This course focuses on the micro-economics of network and information goods and how the dynamics of economics shift when marginal costs are essentially zero and value increases as more people use the good. This class is a great example on how UC Davis GSM professors are able to bring the latest research into actual business context.

The biggest insight for me was on how one should value social media-based and information goods, and how the current app-based innovation wave is built on it. When assessing normal goods there is a clear equilibrium point where supply meets demand. Network goods, however, present a different dynamic. There are two equilibrium points: 0 or very high demand. There is also a tipping point: the critical mass that the good needs to achieve to then grow exponentially and become a success. Today, every new app is trying to get to that tipping point – that amount of users that takes it to exponential growth. VC valuations are also based on the likelihood of these apps to get to that point, that make them into a success.

Why did you choose this business school?

  • Location: Close to the Bay Area and the epicenter of innovation and venture capital investments.
  • Financial Aid: Very generous scholarship from the school and opportunities to be a teaching assistant, which would grant me fee remission for the base UC tuition and a salary during the school year.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The ability to take risks and try new things. The University is a space where one is there to learn. Taking risks and making mistakes is a part of the learning and growth process. During my time in business school, I was able to work with different departments of the university in different capacities, as well as, take part in the effort of Non-Profits and do internships in different industries. Today, I know better about the things that I want and do not want to work with going forward in my career.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? How supportive they were of the new things I wanted to implement and try out.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be yourself. Show that you have the grit and the heart to be a leader that will have an impact in your community.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Many see UC Davis as a school focused in food and agriculture. It is true that the university is renowned for its agricultural and food science and the Graduate School of Management has great contacts in the industry. However, that is not the only industry it has contacts on. There is a significant portion of alumni in the technology industry, and many of my classmates received job offers in companies like Intel, AT&T and Keysight.

The truth is UC Davis GSM Career Development team has a very personalized approach to each student. It supports each one of us in finding opportunities in whatever industry and functional area we are interested in.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I had the opportunity to apply to be a team leader for my capstone consulting project and I decided against it. In hindsight, I regret not taking the opportunity to lead the consulting team and further develop my project management skills.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have very inspiring classmates from many different backgrounds. The one I admire the most is Grace Guo. She has a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and has joined UC Davis MBA to further develop her management skills. She has put herself in many uncomfortable situations to develop her communication skills and has spent a long time away from her family to be able to offer her daughter a future she believes to be better. I deeply admire her resilience, bravery and sacrifice.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I decided to take the risk and seek a career move into Venture Capital.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…wondering how life would be if I had taken a chance to make a career move.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would have more real life “hands-on” experience and opportunity to work with the community to apply MBA concepts to boost economic development in the region.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to be Partner in a VC firm and make investments in companies and technologies that will have a positive impact in the world, promoting social and economic development.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents. They worked very hard to give me the opportunity to follow my dreams.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Someone who was there for them, be it on school assignments and/or personally.

Favorite book: American Gods

Favorite movie or television show: Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind

Favorite musical performer: System of a Down

Favorite vacation spot: somewhere new

Hobbies: reading, playing video-games and board games, travelling, planning trips

What made Ana Carolina Lopez Pinaya such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Ana truly exemplifies what it means to be a leader and a role model for her peers and for the greater GSM community. During her short time at the GSM, she has engaged, inspired and guided others in remarkable ways.

Ana came to the GSM with an established international corporate track record, including Finance Management roles for both Mars, Inc. and P&G, in Mexico and in Brazil.

As soon as she arrived at the GSM, Ana was eager to contribute and make her mark here. During her first year in the MBA program, she helped facilitate the first GSM Start-Up Career Fair, which drew many entrepreneurial-minded undergraduate and graduate-level students to meet with a wide variety of start-up employers. Ana’s tenacity and dedication were key to the success of this new program at the GSM.

She quickly took on leadership roles. As the Vice-president of Women in Leadership (WIL), Ana led the effort to engage non-profit organizations to participate in the WIL Board Fellowship Program, obtaining participation agreements from 9 out of the 11 boards that engaged in the program this year. This board program gives MBA students an opportunity to sit on a board of directors at an organization, and is aimed at developing strategic and responsible board leadership who will create a positive impact.

Much of the success of this year’s program was due to Ana’s persistent outreach efforts.

Ana has also successfully served as the Director of Finance for both the Associated Students of Management (ASM) and for the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Association. Even when not in an “official” role as a leader, she is still recognized in this capacity by her classmates, especially on class group projects, where Ana has effectively advised her peers to help them overcome various challenges.

Finally, Ana has been selected as a recipient of the 2017 Stephen G. and Shelley A. Newberry Distinguished Fellowship Award. This is considered to be the most prestigious student award that the GSM offers; awarded to only two graduating Full-time MBA students who best represent the following leadership characteristics:

  • Having a broad base of experience and indicators that they will be successful team leaders in business;
  • Making difficult decisions that were not popular, but took responsibility and were accountable;
  • Demonstrating a great potential for leadership;
  • Exhibiting long-term CEO or COO potential

Ana has shown great enthusiasm, relentless energy, and positive affect while balancing the many demands of being a professional graduate student. She has definitely proven herself to be an invaluable addition not just to her Class of 2017, but to the entire GSM community.”

Inger Maher

Director of Student & Academic Services



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