Meet Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA Class of 2019

Alejandra Martinez 

Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: A Latin American woman trying to succeed in the male-dominated corporate finance world.

Hometown: Quito, Ecuador

Fun Fact About Yourself:  When I was 18 years old, I entered a national physics contest with a wind tunnel simulator project and won!

Undergraduate School and Major:  Universidad San Francisco, Economics

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:   PRONACA Ecuador – Treasury Risk Specialist

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In 2015, I was part of a project to finance farmers who are usually left out of the traditional banking system due to their lack of formality and insufficient collateral. We obtained a credit line of five million dollars with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to fund a thousand small-holder farmers. By including the farmers in the company’s chain of production, the supply of quality raw materials grew and so did the crop yields and the farmers’ income. This experience was meaningful for me because I worked with a multidisciplinary team from different companies and countries, for the same purpose, which we all believed in. Additionally, I enjoyed negotiating with IDB’s risk analysts for the farmers’ credit conditions. In the end, we lowered risk by creating solidarity groups of lenders who guaranteed each another. This experience helped me understand that the future of companies relies on how well they understand their effect on their stakeholders and their environment.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants?  Enjoy your work experience. Get the most you can out of it. This is going to be your real differentiator when you come to the program and meet your classmates. Your biggest input during class discussion comes from the specific problems you faced and how you managed them. Therefore, the work experience requirement for business school applicants is something you want to take advantage of. I know that the GMAT is always considered the most daunting part. While it is very important, don’t forget to keep performing well at your job while you study for the GMAT.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? From the moment I started researching about Owen, and especially after my interview, I felt part of a community. I had the chance to talk to a couple of first year students who took the time to call me via Skype. What they told me and the excitement in their voices when talking about Owen showed me that this community was something I wanted to be part of. Then, after my admission, I had the chance to meet alumni and first year students in my hometown. All these interactions helped me get even more involved in the community. I even got the chance to dine with a team who was working with Project Pyramid in an Ecuadorian community. To sum up, Owen made me feel included from day one.

I also wanted to really immerse myself in a typical American environment and make the most of my experience living in the U.S.  I wanted to live in the south in the United States, which is a part of the country that maintains its unique traditions, cooking, music, etc. However, by choosing Nashville, I was also choosing a cosmopolitan and fun city.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?  A year from now, I want to be in an internship that helps me understand the way U.S. businesses interact with their stakeholders. Every day I think of ways of making my country a better place for everyone to live in. This is the main reason why I wanted to obtain my MBA in the U.S. and return afterwards to Ecuador to apply everything I learned. Therefore, I hope to be able to intern in a company that has a high impact in its community, and understand their best practices.

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