Meet Harvard Business School’s MBA Class Of 2020

Amy Hernandez Turcios

Harvard Business School

Wall Street alumna, first-generation Guatemalan-American trailblazer, and resilient community leader dedicated to advancing Latinx leadership.”

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I used to be terrified of public speaking. Luckily, I got over the fear in middle school when I was cast in a Hip Hop musical as a 90s rapper. After countless practices that led to the final performance, I lost my fear of public speaking. Thanks to this unique middle school experience, I can now embrace the HBS case method, which involves public speaking, every day.

Undergraduate School and Major:

University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School

Major: Economics | Concentrations: Finance and Operations & Information Management

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:

Bank of America (Investment Banking Analyst – 3 years; Enterprise Strategic Initiatives Associate – 2 years)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During my career at Bank of America, I had the opportunity to travel with management teams through several IPOs and was part of transformational internal initiatives. My most notable career accomplishment, however, was not one of these experiences. Instead, my biggest career accomplishment is tied to the diversity and inclusion efforts I helped lead at the firm. I started an initiative aimed at Latinx investment bankers at the firm. The purpose of the initiative was to 1) increase the pipeline and 2) build a sense of community among the existing Latinx investment banker population. I was able to garner interest and accomplish what I set out to do. As a result, I won the Global Enterprise Diversity & Inclusion Award. This accomplishment culminated when I received the physical award from our Chief Diversity Officer during a celebration ceremony. This moment solidified my passion for helping the Latinx community and encouraged my commitment to advancing Latinx leadership.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Diverse. I remember being a prospective student and consistently hearing the term “diverse perspectives” from students and alumni. I didn’t fully understand what that meant and why it was important until I started classes. Inside the classroom, these diverse perspectives are valuable because we can see one issue through multiple lenses. Outside the classroom, these diverse perspectives have allowed me to learn about various cultures, industries, and walks of life.

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? Harvard Business School’s mission is to “educate leaders who make a difference in the world” and I came to HBS to grow as a Latina leader. The case method and the Latinx student/alumni community allowed me to see how I could have a transformational experience at HBS.

Case method: After sitting in on several classes as a prospective student, I knew that I wanted to be part of the vibrant discussions the case method encourages. I saw this learning approach as the best suited for my personal development because it would help strengthen my analytical capabilities, solidify my ability to synthesize information, and think on the fly (if cold called). The case method simulates real world problems and I appreciate that we as students must put ourselves in the shoes of the protagonist to come up with solutions. This classroom experience will enable me to be a confident, thoughtful, and introspective leader.

Latinx Student/Alumni Community: Every year, 100+ Latinx HBS alumni attend an annual banquet in New York City. As a prospective student, I had the opportunity to attend these banquets over the last few years where I was able to meet many inspiring leaders who described their HBS experience and encouraged me to apply. I would not be here without such a supportive community. Going forward, I hope to keep growing the number of Latinx applicants to HBS and I will continue to be a champion of community-building on-campus and beyond.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Latino Student Organization (LASO)

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’m about five years out of undergrad and I’ve had two distinct roles in my professional career. Through both roles, I was able to gain quantitative and qualitative perspectives. When it came time to apply, I believed I had enough substantive experience to be able to effectively contribute in the classroom. Additionally, at five years out, I felt I was mature enough to appreciate the opportunity to be in school again. Looking back, I’m certain this was the right time for me to get my MBA.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Even when school officials would mention the price of an MBA, I never questioned if it was “worth the investment.” I had spoken to enough individuals to know that the tangible and intangible value of the MBA overrode the price tag. I see the MBA as an investment in not only myself, but also for my family, my community, and future Latinx generations who have a dream of attending a school like HBS.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? GSB, CBS, Kellogg, Fuqua 

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Aside from assessing “fit”, I looked at three main factors when considering schools: teaching method, career placement strength, and physical attributes (i.e. size and location). Prior to applying, I was an MBA Prep Fellow for Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) and they facilitated forums where I could chat with admissions officers and students to learn more about the classroom environment, professional opportunities, and school culture. These first-hand accounts were my primary sources of research. For students who are not going through a structured program like MLT, I’d encourage them to speak to as many students as possible to determine whether a school is a right fit.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? In high school, my life was changed by a flyer – quite literally. I grew up in a low-income household. Given the cost of higher education, my family would not have been able to afford college. Thanks to a flyer I received in the mail, I learned about QuestBridge – a non-profit that helps low-income high-achieving students attend top universities. Through QuestBridge, I was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and received a full-ride scholarship. They helped make my educational dream come true and this experience is the underlying reason why I am passionate about uplifting others. I have had many wonderful opportunities thus far, including being a student at HBS, and I’m dedicated to paying it forward.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? After graduation, I’m hoping to move back to my hometown of Los Angeles. I’m exploring opportunities in consulting because I want to learn how to break down abstract problems and turn those insights into meaningful change.

Where do you see yourself in five years? My long-term goal is to advance Latinx leadership by bridging the Latinx talent gap. This is an abstract problem I don’t know how to solve quite yet but over the next few years, I hope to build the skillset to be able to tackle this prominent issue.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.