Meet Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class Of 2020

Catalina Asmar

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

Hardworking, persistent, and caring woman, with a passion for learning and a love of dancing.”

Hometown: Barranquilla, Colombia

Fun Fact About Yourself: Last February, I danced along 500 professional dancers in the main event of Barranquilla’s famous carnival.

Undergraduate School and Major:

Economics- Universidad de los Andes

Master of Science in Economics- Universidad de los Andes

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Project Analyst- Promigas (Natural gas transmission and distribution company in Colombia).

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My most significant career accomplishment was to be chosen by the company’s CFO to dictate a class to interns and first year professionals and part of his project valuation course.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I would say the quality that best describes the MBA classmates I have met is ambitious. It has been very inspiring to meet such accomplished and intelligent individuals, who have clear goals and are determined to work hard for them, while at the same time going the extra mile to help their classmates reach theirs.

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? Kellogg´s unique mission to leverage the power of markets to create lasting value and its emphasis in leadership were the main aspects that resonated with me when choosing my MBA program. I believe Kellogg is successful in developing well-rounded leaders with the goal of addressing important issues and creating impact.

Another aspect that was vital to me when choosing Kellogg’s MBA was its array of experiential learning courses and activities. My previous educational experiences were almost entirely lecture based courses. Therefore, I am very excited to take several experiential learning courses and participating in club activities that will allow me to work on real business problems and experience hands-on learning.

I am very excited to take New Venture discovery this fall; this course allows students to work in teams to use business tools and techniques to translate a problem into a viable business project. I am also looking forward to taking Global Lab course in the winter quarter, in this course students get to work as consultants to international companies in a real business project. At the end of the quarter we get to travel to the host company’s country to present the project’s results. This is a great opportunity to learn more about a different company, industry, and culture.

Similarly, I plan to volunteer in Kellogg Corps on my last quarter. Through this program, I will have the opportunity to apply business skills and tools learned in class to support a social impact-oriented organization in a developing country. This unique experience will allow me to gain more business experience and exposure, while creating valuable impact in a non-profit organization.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am really looking forward to participating in Kellogg Corps. It combines all the things I love the most: experiential learning, social impact, and traveling.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? It had been a long-term dream of mine to study abroad in the United States. I was happy with my job and my accomplishments to date, but I believed it was the time to take the leap and pursue my dream. I believe stepping out of your comfort zone is the best way to experience personal and professional growth.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? As a project analyst, I developed a financial model to calculate the return on investment of pursuing my MBA. It was an interesting analysis, but ultimately there are many things a financial model can’t account for: unforgettable life experiences, amazing trips, and great friendships.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?

  • Columbia
  • Cornell Johnson
  • Yale
  • Wharton

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized academics, culture, and fit. I was interested in taking several experiential learning classes that would allow me to work with companies on real business issues. I also put a lot of value to the quality and expertise of the professors. I researched culture by visiting schools and talking to as many students, alumni, and faculty I could connect with. I believe the conversations and interactions I had were extremely helpful and allowed me to get an accurate idea of my personal fit in each school. However, as soon as I visited the schools, it was very easy to feel which fit best for me.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I think a defining moment for me was when I experienced my first failure. I had always been a very responsible and studious young girl. My accomplishments were always recognized and celebrated. I managed to live my first 22 years without a real failure, at least not that I can remember. My first failure was right out of college, after I didn’t get a job offer I wanted. Initially, this first failure managed to shake my self-confidence. However, it motivated me to work harder towards my goals. Now I realize failures are the best way to learn and an essential part of success.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? After I graduate, I plan to return to my home country, Colombia and work in developing the sustainable energy industry there. I believe that with the amount of rural vacant land, there is a huge potential to develop this market.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I see myself working towards addressing social and environmental issues in my home country. I see myself as a leader and an advocate for women. In five years I see myself as a hard-working mother, eager to take on new challenges, and planning a four year reunion with my Kellogg classmates.