Mariana Lanzas Goded
U.C.-Berkeley, Haas School of Business
Describe yourself in 15 words or less: In search for life’s meaning. Hoping to have an impact. Love dance, nature, and enlightening conversations.
Hometown: Madrid, Spain
Fun Fact About Yourself: From ages 11 to 13, I organized summer camps for more than 15 friends at my house in the countryside. Camp included mailing letters to parents, organizing meals and sleeping tents, drafting cleaning schedules and duties, and setting up afternoon artistic workshops, mountain activities, and night walks, etc. I still don’t know how parents trusted an 11-year-old with their kids.
Undergraduate School and Major: Yale University, BA in Global Affairs and International Development
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:
KPMG: Climate Change and Sustainability Advisory, Executive 2014-2015
KPMG: Climate Change and Sustainability Advisory, Associate 2015-2016
Bridge for Billions: Business Strategy Consultant 2016-2017
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment is remaining committed to my goal of helping solve some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges through my work. This has sometimes meant taking the unusual road, taking atypical jobs, and sometimes questioning the current way of doing things within the organizations I have worked for.
My desire to find ways to create a prosperous future for people and the planet has taken me on a journey— from non-profit work, to economics, to impact measurement, to NGO analysis, to corporate social responsibility, to social entrepreneurship, to an interest in how venture capital and investment can be leveraged to solve problems like poverty or environmental degradation. While at times I was tempted to pursue a more risk-free career, now I am glad I remained true to myself, and I feel ever more confident about my direction.
Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? My main recommendation would be to start a conversation with your potential recommenders early on, as soon as you decide you’ll be applying to business school. Read or listen to the advice published by some of the schools on how to write effective letters of recommendation and pass this information along to your recommenders. Make them aware of how determining recommendations can be, which is often more than they imagine. For me this has definitely been one of the most stressful parts of the application process but I think this is largely avoidable. It is never too early to start a conversation with potential recommenders.
As for the essays, I would advise future applicants not to get too stressed about the degree of perfection of their first drafts. Aim to have a minimum viable product in, let’s say, a three-hour sitting, something that is genuine and not too polished. You will feel much better about yourself knowing that you already have something that you could potentially send in a worst-case scenario. Then start working on it from there.
Finally, try to get to know as much as you can about the different business schools before you start with the application process, and then only apply to schools that you would ultimately be excited to go to.
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? The main reason why I chose Berkeley-Haas over other programs was its focus on both personal and professional development. By speaking to students and alumni from Haas and from the other schools where I was admitted, I learned that Haas approaches career management in a very personal, one-on-one manner, caring for each individual’s career and personal goals. Haas does not just focus on trying to place graduates in good post-graduation jobs. Instead, it places a lot of emphasis on helping students achieve a fulfilling professional career in the medium and long term. That involves helping you understand who you are and the big picture of what you want to do with your life, and then helping you figure out a good first job to get you started on that path. Rankings show that five years down the road, Berkeley MBA graduates are some of the most satisfied with their careers. After visiting and having lengthy conversations with Haasies and looking at this kind of statistic, I felt confident that by going to Haas I would not risk finding myself with a great post-MBA job, but feeling unhappy and somewhat lost a few years after.
What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? Success would mean having a good sense of what financial tools and investment processes could do for social causes and the environment. It would also mean garnering some real-world experience with financial analysis and investment management, and to have already participated in projects applying these tools to the sustainable finance, CleantTech or social investment spaces. Success would also mean still feeling 100% sure that going to business school was the right next step.