Vanessa Matos Tudela
University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management
Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I am a resourceful Venezuelan immigrant invested in improving our planet through the private sector.
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela
Fun Fact about Yourself: I am part of a group of activists called the Climate Reality Corps and I am a Climate Reality Leader. I was trained by Al Gore himself on climate science and storytelling in order to work towards solutions to the climate crisis.
Undergraduate School and Major:
American University, School of International Service
Major in International Relations, Minor in International Business.
Employers and Job Titles since Graduation:
The Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC)-Washington DC, USA: The IIC is a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDBG).
Investment Analyst, Technical advisor Energy Efficiency Guarantee Mechanism
The Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDBG), Washington DC, USA: The Inter-American Development Bank is the largest source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Private Finance Operations Research Analyst
The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), Washington DC, USA: The PADF is a non-governmental and non-political organization created by the Organization of American States (OAS).
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Most of my professional growth has been in a multilateral development bank, an institution in which the viability of projects is not measured solely by financials or by the creditworthiness of a borrower, but by developmental impact. My focus for the past four years has been in climate finance, more specifically demonstrating through private sector clients the viability of investing in renewable for self- consumption.
Among the best accomplishments in my career I would highlight closing the first commercial-scale solar PV system in the Bahamas. It was quite a rush! Convincing clients to move their entire source of energy from the traditional reliability of fossil fuels to a somewhat new technology is not an easy task anywhere, but so especially so in Latin America and the Caribbean. Not only did our team accomplish installing a rooftop solar PV system in a country that is keen on improving their energy sources, we also spurred further interest by other private companies on the island to follow the lead and in parallel spurred the development of a skilled new workforce trained in solar PV technology.
Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Ask to get connected to current students and use the admissions interview for your advantage! Sometimes, we are so focused on our own profile and are so concentrated in all major components of our applications that we forget to ask questions to the program themselves. Remember, this is not just about getting into business school. This is also about the next two years of your life.
I was lucky enough to speak to first and second year students and got so much out of these conversations! Rotman’s admissions team opened the doors to their school, their culture, and current students. By the time I had my admissions interview, I felt like I knew the school very well, but I also felt I could ask more questions and truly dig into the nitty gritty of the second year classes I had my eye on, the concentrations that I liked, about funding for new concentrations, etc.! Make sure you leave the interview feeling like you know the program and the culture more so than before!
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? Since very early on in my career, I have been trained to measure investments incorporating environmental and social implications. Therefore, I needed a program were I would feel at home in cultivating the marriage of two driving forces: environmental stewardship and financial gain. Many would argue that these are competing priorities. However, I needed an MBA program and a platform where these forces were not seen to be at odds, and that is what I found at Rotman.
I attended a sustainability panel at work, where expert panelists were discussing different areas of what it means to be a truly sustainable business. One of the panelist, Sarah Kaplan, was heavily focused on gender lens investing. I did a little research on her book and on the subject and was immediately drawn from the Stanford Business Review, to Rotman School of Management. In another opportunity, after I had already gone through most of the vetting form MBAS, I attended an Open House at Rotman.
I travelled from DC to Toronto for the event and was absolutely taken by a speech Don Tapscott gave on block chain. He not only spoke of a new digital frontier, but also how this new era of the internet enabled transparency, protected intellectual property, and inevitably would something he called “shared prosperity.”
Long story short, I was drawn to Rotman and I chose Rotman because I felt motivated by their faculty and I could see that they would guide me through business school with a purpose I can align with, one that has been part of my career since the begging: creating impact and going beyond business as usual.
What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? I think the first year of business school is all about the development of core skills and about getting to know your fellow classmates. I think that success to me in 2018 would mean I felt confident with 60-70% of core skills. Yes, I’m not assuming a 100% (and not even an 80%) because the second part of what success would look like to me is feeling like I know my classmates – having developed friendships with them and (most importantly) I have felt constantly challenged by them.