Meet The Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2019

Kristen Diaz 

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Positive, energetic, friendly, and curious. I strive to give my best in everything I do.

Hometown: Miami Springs, FL

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve never seen snow fall!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Central Florida; BSBA in Accounting

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: General Mills Latin America and Caribbean (Miami, FL)

  • Associate Brand Manager (2014-2017)
  • Marketing Business Coordinator (2013-2014)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment in my career so far has been growing a $26M business year-over-year in the Caribbean and Central America with a marketing investment of less than 2 percent of RNS. I created innovation launch plans, pricing strategy, and marketing support plans for several brands and over twenty-five markets, and worked closely with my customers, creative agencies, and internal cross-functional teams to execute on them. I am especially proud of this accomplishment because I did not have any formal education or training in marketing or general management, but I was able to ask questions, try new things, fail, learn quickly, and work with my team and limited resources to ultimately grow the business. 

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? One thing that worked well for me was learning as much as I could about the different MBA programs and going to visit as many schools as I could. I would advise future business school applicants to do the same. Don’t simply choose to apply to schools based on one factor, such as cost, ranking, or average percentage of applicants who are admitted. There are so many important factors to consider in a business school. They include location, cost, ranking, and size of the class. You also need to look at which companies recruit from there; what industries or functions the school is particularly strong in; what kind of opportunities for experiential learning they offer; what the faculty and staff are like and how accessible they are; which organizations the school is affiliated with; and the size accessibility of the alumni network.

While some of these factors will be more important to some students than others, I would advise applicants to get the biggest picture of the school as possible before applying. There may be a school they were not initially considering, but stands out as they do more research. If possible, I’d also recommend visiting the campuses. Many programs offer opportunities to visit and tour the school, sit through a class, and meet with faculty and current students. Many of the schools also offer special events for prospective students, such as Women’s Weekends, Diversity Forums, Veteran’s Weekends, etc. I’d encourage you to look at the different school event calendars as far in advance as possible so you don’t miss one you’re interested in. These are great ways to get a feel for what it would be like to be a student at that school, and get many of your questions answered (some schools even subsidize part of your travel expenses!). It can be a little pricey and time-consuming going to visit many schools, but I found it to be worth it to give me the peace of mind that I was applying to a school I really wanted to attend and where I could see myself thriving.

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? I chose McCombs because it has everything I was looking for in an MBA program. McCombs is a top 20 program in the US, a member of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, and located in the awesome and growing city of Austin. I felt that everyone I spoke to —faculty, staff, and students — were very down-to-earth and I could see myself interacting with them both personally and professionally.

In addition, all of the top companies I am interested in working for recruit from McCombs or have McCombs alumni working for them. It was important to me to find a school that was strong across the board —academics, people, career opportunities, and location. I visited many schools during my research process and spoke to current students and alumni. While some schools may have had a culture I really liked, had strong recruiting from one of my top target companies, or was located in a great city where I’d love to live, none of them quite offered the complete package like McCombs did.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? I would consider myself successful after my first year of business school if I’ve done well in my classes, had fun, and made meaningful connections with my classmates, McCombs alumni, and various companies and organizations. I’d also be beginning my internship at a company whose mission I am passionate about and where I can contribute in a big way.

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