2018 MBAs To Watch: Carola Leiva, Babson College (F.W. Olin)

Carola Leiva

F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College

Restless and curious, willing to take risks to open new opportunities for learning.”

Age: 33

Hometown: Santiago, Chile

Fun fact about yourself: I’m an engineer who loves numbers. Though, I really enjoy deep conversations about life and psychoanalysis

Undergraduate School and Degree: Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, BS Industrial Engineer

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Vinson Consulting, Senior Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Sensata Technologies, Attleboro, Massachusetts

Where will you be working after graduation? Sensata Technologies, Leadership Development Professional

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Mentor in the Coaching for Leadership and Teamwork Program (CLTP) at Babson College
  • Student Admission Ambassador
  • Graduate Assistant in Scaling Lean Venture and Family Business, mentoring groups of undergraduate students in their projects with companies to overcome a deeply embedded operating constraint to growth
  • McKinsey Next Generation Woman Leaders (NGWL) North America 2017
  • Women’s Leadership Award

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? When I came to US, I was not comfortable with the idea of studying in a different language, one that I didn’t use in my country at all. In the beginning, I felt fake because I was not able to express my opinion; in an MBA class that is one of the more important things. Even with all my experience, if I was not able to speak up and say what I was thinking clearly, people would not believe in me. But hard work pays and now I’m at the top of my class. In addition, I have been a mentor for undergraduate students and I feel very proud of that. It feels amazing to pass my knowledge to people in a foreign country and in a different language of my own.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I have been leading teams for more than 5 years and I feel profoundly proud every time I see a person who has worked with me to advance in her or his career. Moreover, it is gratifying when someone I have worked with calls me for career advice. As I’m a leader in development, I feel privileged every time I have the opportunity to lead and motivate a new team.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? It is hard to choose just one. If I have to, I’d choose Jerome Taillard, my finance professor. His enthusiasm for teaching and concern to make the experience enjoyable, understandable, and related to the business world kept me engaged with the class the whole time.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Managing Talent: Your Own and Others. The biggest insight I gained was the relevance of self-awareness, reflection and feedback, which I believe many people underestimate. I liked this class because it made me stop my busy schedule and think: it is hard to know yourself when you are running all the time. However, it is extremely important to do so to know your own talents and become a more effective leader. Additionally, the Babson Leadership class is a great continuation to this class as it goes deeper in many topics.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Babson because the community is diverse and full of people with great ideas. I wanted to do something different from what I knew (very structured thinking) and put myself out of my comfort zone – and Babson has done it. In addition, I liked the size of the program, small enough to get to know your classmates, and the professors are very open and available outside of the classroom.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? It is not only about the GMAT or the resume. It is about your story: Why do you want to study an MBA at Babson?; How will Babson impact your life?; And how will you impact Babson community when you get here? This will sound corny, but I really believe this… Don’t do things to “build” a resume. Don’t take positions because they look good on paper. Be real and authentic. You don’t need to change to become successful, the only person who can define success for you, is you!

What is the biggest myth about your school? Babson is only for people who have family business or people who want to start their own business. Based upon my experience, Babson is really for entrepreneurs of all kinds. My older brother studied at Babson seven years ago and he is a VP at Liberty Mutual. My younger brother is currently working at MetLife Chile and he will be part of the Babson Class of 2020. Here are examples of three siblings who don’t have family business and have always worked for corporations. Still we have all chosen Babson.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I try not to regret. I believe if you are not happy with something that you did or didn’t do, and you still have time to change it, do something about it, if you can’t do anything, don’t regret it. It is not worth it, just learn from it.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Catherine Yu. She knows what she wants and works hard to accomplish her objectives. She doesn’t blame others for her problems. She is truly the type of person who makes you feel good about yourself and bring the best of you.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My younger brother, who is one of my best friends and role models. He has always wanted to study an MBA at Babson. I wasn’t sure of studying again because engineering lasts 6 years in Chile and includes many business classes. However, my brother sold me on the idea by telling me the advantages of having an international degree and experience.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working in consulting.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would include more classes of self-awareness early in the MBA experience. MBA students are or will become leaders. Based upon research, leaders need to know themselves, who they want to become, and what they believe. Otherwise, how could they aspire lead people if they don’t know how to lead themselves? Fortunately, Babson is trying to improve the MBA experience and it is considering to make changes in this direction.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Go to Tibet
  • Be part of a dance performance again (amateur)

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who believes in doing good and in hard work.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Pursuit of Happyness. It is about resilience, perseverance and hard work. The most important lesson I gained from it: It is not about what happens to you, but about what you do afterwards and how you react to that.

What would your theme song be? “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

Favorite vacation spot: Costa Rica. It has adventure, nature, wildlife, beaches and friendly people.

Hobbies? Dancing ballet, doing gymnastics, traveling, hiking or simply walking.

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

“Entrepreneurs are immensely self-driven and action-oriented. Carola is no exception. She fuels her drive from envisioning a more just outcome and more importantly takes action in that direction. Recently, her self-exploration about the purpose of an MBA degree has led to bringing the Babson College community together to establish an MBA oath that would include the professional integrity and ethical standards for each MBA. This has been a simple, but very powerful and meaningful act to remind all MBAs that they have a responsibility and also the resources to become change makers. The leadership she has shown in this act exemplifies Carola’s entrepreneurial spirit, ethical character and intellectual capacity.

With the changing world, the meaning of what a business stands for is also changing. In leading this change, Carola is the new rising entrepreneurial MBA. She engages different people and together helps develop a societal mission that is more meaningful and just. Where others see an end, she imagines and creates a new path to a better end. It is a simple drop in the bucket, with ripple effects only to be seen.”

S. Sinan Erzurumlu

Faculty Director for Two-Year MBA Program





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