Meet IESE Business School’s MBA Class Of 2020

Karina Kleissl

IESE Business School

“Brazilian, Austrian, American, defender of integrity and transparency, promoting the bright side of life.”

Hometown: Sāo Paulo, Brazil

Fun Fact About Yourself: My friends call me their “human Labrador” because I always get very excited with the smallest and most simple things.

Undergraduate School and Major: Maastricht University – BSc in International Business, Finance Major

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: BTG Pactual, Global Distribution and Investor Relations of Asset Management

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In the second year at my first job, which was also my second year of any work experience whatsoever, my boss unexpectedly quit. Until they found his replacement, I had to handle all of his tasks and assume his decisions, which were way beyond my scope and level of seniority. At that point I had barely gotten acquainted with my own responsibilities. It was a terrifying and exhausting experience. By the time they found a replacement, I had completely outgrown my original position both professionally and personally.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The cliché answer here would be diversity. The admissions team really did an impressive job in putting together the most different type of people on all possible levels: careers, nationalities, backgrounds, personal beliefs and goals. However, what truly describes my classmates so far is their willingness to help and their family-like attitude. I am impressed with the ease with which they created a support system for all. It is remarkable to see people that have never met personally, go out of their way to help each other out and share advice. The general mentality is that we are all in this together and we want every one of us to succeed.

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?  It was actually a very defining moment in which I realized how the school different from the others and right for me. Most top-ranking schools are so demanded by applicants that there is not much need for active marketing. IESE, however, constantly holds different types of recruiting events throughout the year. I once questioned the admissions officer about this: I was skeptical as to why IESE would go through all this extra effort if the school is already so highly-ranked. Her answer surprised me. The goal of these events, she said, is not only to attract prospective students. The point is to really make sure that the school’s values and propositions become clear to applicants and at the same time to help the admissions team in getting to know the applicants better and identifying those whose values are aligned with the school’s. The goal ultimately was to create the best match between school and student. When the fit is right, she said, the students as well as the school will be happier and more successful. At that moment, I made my choice.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am considering joining the Sailing club because it would be something completely new for me. I am also looking forward to becoming fluent in Spanish and, most of all, as a foodie I am looking forward to all activities related to eating and drinking.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I felt like I came to the point where I had gained enough experience in banking to know that it is not what I want to pursue in the long-term. I also think that I have now reached the right level of maturity to fully benefit from an MBA.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Speaking to alumni, I realized that in spite of the bigger costs, the returns of and MBA would be endlessly bigger and more valuable to me than any other postgraduate degree. I have never met anybody who has done an MBA and regretted it. 

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None, I was fully set on IESE.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? The most important factor for me was to choose a school that had values aligned with mine. This is not easy to identify or measure, so the best research tool for me was speaking to alumni and admissions. While there are many different sources from which you can obtain useful information, it is only in direct conversation that you can see the sparkle in people’s eyes. I think this counts for any career decision in life.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? When I was nine, I moved from Brazil to the US with my mother. While I had already been brought up in a bilingual and multicultural environment, this was the first real culture shock I experienced. I had to learn a new language, new customs, and new habits. It was a tough experience for someone at that age, but now I am thankful because it made me develop in ways I never imagined, it made me become stronger, more observant and understanding of different backgrounds and people.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Currently, I am focused on consulting, but I know that the MBA is an intense transformational process for most people, so I am keeping an open mind.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Somewhere where I’ll say: Wow! 5 years ago, I could have never imagined that this is where I would be.

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