Meet Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class Of 2020

Mercedes Moran

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

A Mexican engineering female who writes, asks many questions, advocates all things digital, and wanders around.”

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love musical theatre, so when I hear about a new play, I download it, and if I like it, I listen and sing along until I know the lyrics. When I finally see the play, I usually cry because it is the moment I put faces to the characters. People look at me strangely, like “Hey, nothing is happening, why are you crying?”

Undergraduate School and Major: Computer Science Engineer, Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey Campus, Santa Fe, Mexico

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Citibanamex, Assistant Vice President in Digital Strategy & Planning

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I am very proud of the data analytics models and processes my team built in my organization during the past three years. Our data is not an isolated number — it tells stories about our customers and their needs, which has allowed us to make better decisions about how to promote digital usage and adoption. The most relevant story I discovered focused on low-income customers, their financial behavior, habits and how the industry views them.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Very warm and friendly.  Everyone has been helpful, open, and kind. I already felt part of the community before even arriving. I had heard about the competitive nature of MBA programs and was expecting a colder environment. Instead, I found the Johnson community to be exceptionally talented and open to collaboration.

Aside from your classmates, 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 love the program because it has an intense first semester for the core, followed by immersions, which allow for specialization. The curriculum related to emerging markets, digitalization, and sustainable entrepreneurship fits perfectly with the knowledge and skills I want to acquire. All of this is supported by amazing faculty such as Lourdes Casanova, who is one of the most recognized academics in emerging markets. The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise (CSGE) is committed to socially and environmentally sustainable businesses which have expertise in international development, financial inclusion, and green energy. In addition, I hope to take advantage of the intensive courses in fintech and digital marketing offered at the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I look forward to participating in Big Red Microenterprise, which helps small-business owners and entrepreneurs to become more profitable. It’s a great way to give back to the community. I’d also like to collaborate with the Emerging Markets Institute by conducting some research and writing about digitalization in emerging markets. As a hobby, I would like to participate as a writer for the Johnson Follies. I like making people laugh, and I find comedy is a great tool to connect with people.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve been working for several years in the financial services industry and have become hyper-aware that with the digital revolution comes opportunities and challenges for low-income customers. I am curious about how to open the financial system to them, as I am convinced that fair credit conditions and savings promote progress. I believe the MBA program at Johnson has the right curriculum, faculty, environment, and community in order for me to tackle some of these challenges.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? The investment gives you more than the academic experience and a nice title for your CV. It gives you access to a new network of smart and talented people, inspires you to ask questions, and gives you access to a wealth of resources.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?  MIT, UCLA, Michigan Ross, Darden.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I am a planner, so I spent a lot of time comparing schools. I referred to the school profiles on the Poets & Quants website which was a great resource. I read about the curriculum, the school values, the faculty, students, and location profiles. After selecting my finalists, I read graduate CVs on LinkedIn and forums about school traditions and the environment. All of this research gave me a clear picture about the type of community I was seeking.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment was a very quiet one. My cousin and I are almost the same age, and his lifestyle is very different from mine. He is a surfer in northern Spain and lives in the country where he cultivates his own vegetables. I work at a bank and live in one of the biggest cities in the world. One night, we were sitting on the roof and having a conversation about our goals and dreams, and suddenly it became very clear to me that we looked for the same things: security, joy, and fulfillment. After this, I have been paying attention to this idea in everything I read, listen to, or watch in my daily interactions with people – and this common purpose is confirmed. This has made me empathetic and open to people with different ideas and beliefs. This is the reason I am committed to making sure my work gives opportunities to people to find joy, fulfillment, and security.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I will go back to the financial industry and develop solutions and products for low-income communities, focusing on women.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself as a positive figure in the financial industry and collaborating in a big bank with government and private organizations to develop a sustainable and inclusive digital ecosystem that helps reduce inequity in my country. I also see myself mentoring entrepreneurial women. Finally, on the personal side, I would love to one day start a family.

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