2018 Best MBAs: Valeria Cuevas, IMD Business School

Valeria Cuevas       

IMD Business School

“Multicultural and impatient, constantly seeking a challenge, a new place to visit and an adventure.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

Fun fact about yourself: As a proud Mexican, I’ve had more than 10,000 tacos throughout my lifetime!

Undergraduate School and Degree: 2008-2012 Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Public Affairs (Magna Cum Laude and Honors), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Immediately before enrolling in IMD, I was working as Financial Advisor, Elections Officer and Arms Trade Advisor at the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations and International Organizations in Geneva. Before that, I served as Advisor for Legal Affairs and Terrorism and subsequently for the Human Rights division, with a special focus on gender issues, children and indigenous rights, at the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations in the New York headquarters.

Where will you be working after graduation? I recently joined the Facebook EMEA HQ in Dublin as a Market Specialist for the Latin American market. The role falls under the Community Operations team, whose mission it is to build and preserve the world’s engagement and trust in Facebook by ensuring a great user experience. Through market trend analyses, I will have the opportunity to build scalable solutions to solve global challenges and empower them to build a community.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

IMD MBA Merit Scholarship recipient

Co-lead of Sustainability career cluster

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My entrepreneurship group chose to support an innovative fintech startup based in Zurich, the leading P2P financing platform in the country. We started working with them four months after the website went live and they had already reached 1 billion CHF in debt transactions, outperforming even their most optimistic expectations.

They had a specific vision and concrete ideas of where they wanted their business to go next, while IMD’s expectations for the project were clearly defined and did not match the startup´s objectives. As a team, we were in a difficult position – on the one hand, we had an incredible opportunity to impact some of the early decisions that could influence the path of the company, while we also understood that the school´s assignment was directed at helping us contribute the most value to the company.

Creating the bridge to close this gap was one of our earliest accomplishments as a team. Coming up with a consensus idea as a group for how we could best perform – managing the expectations of a real company and achieving actionable deliverables – were important accomplishments that I can attribute to a combination of individual and group dynamics. I am proud to have been able to contribute through facilitating the communications among stakeholders and nurturing the personal relationships we had established within the startup team from the beginning.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my time as Human Rights Advisor in New York, my team succeeded in organizing the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, an unprecedented event that epitomized one important step towards the global community’s recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite is the Leadership stream, which is a clear differentiator of the IMD MBA experience.

The biggest insight I acquired relates to the power of self-awareness. It’s a fact that we all have different styles of working and leading, our own strengths and weaknesses. The leadership stream, however, taught me that in order to succeed, it is imperative that we understand these traits and we use them to our advantage. I learned the power of different leadership frames and how to adapt our leadership style by choosing the most appropriate approach depending on the situation or conflict. I also learned that conflict is not only certain, but also essential in order to grow and develop our leadership skills.

Why did you choose this business school? Early on in my business school research, I came across IMD and realized it would be a perfect fit. I was enticed by the opportunity to learn from a diverse and international class and faculty. I realized that the focus on personal and leadership development throughout the program, combined with a wide array of opportunities to engage with real business challenges and the principles that inspire the program, would highly contribute to my career objectives.

I decided to pursue an MBA in order to transition into the private sector. I knew, however, that I wanted to continue to do something with purpose and that had real impact on people’s lives. The exposure that we gained to different businesses and industries through IMD gave me a better understanding of the real impact that business can have on society. I took advantage of every opportunity I had to learn more about the private sector – in-class debates and discussions, speakers, networking sessions and through the IMD network. With an open mind and through these interactions, I learned about the amount of opportunities in the tech sector and how I could certainly align my personal values with entrepreneurial goals and vision.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Come with an open mind and make a conscious effort to sustain it throughout the program. Many people start their MBA with expectations of what they want to learn and extract from their year. However, applicants must remember that the way to derive the most out of the experience is to understand it as a process. The program is designed to be challenging and to push our limits – the only way to survive is by embracing this.

 What is the biggest myth about your school? IMD is infamous for the heavy workload that is assigned to its MBAs. The fact that it covers a two-year program in eleven months, is a clear indication of its intensity. Most of us expected to be flooded with work, but I can confidently say that all of us found the way to handle it.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire all my classmates who have children. It takes an enormous amount of courage to commit to such an intense experience when there is a family involved.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…looking for a transitional job that would help me achieve my dream career.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? If I was a dean for a day at IMD, I would design a proactive strategy to attract and enroll morefemale students in the class.

 What are the top two items on your bucket list? Learn at least 3 more languages and dive with whales.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as a positive and energetic peer and friend.

What is your favourite movie about business? Barbarians at the Gate – the process of negotiation in all of its glorious complexity.

Favorite vacation spot: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Hobbies? Scuba diving, kickboxing, travel, cooking, photography, learning languages, volunteering at the local animal refuge

What made Cuevas such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“With 4+years international work experience in strategy, finance and communications in the public sector, Valeria has shown great initiative and grit in promoting different initiatives as representative of the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the UN both in the US and in Switzerland. She is a natural networker and manages to see an opportunity in everything that comes her way. Professional and enthusiastic, we wish her all the best at Facebook HQ in Dublin.”


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