Elena Cavalca Knack
Babson College’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business
“I´m passionate about factory, managing, and how leadership can improve the result of industries.
Hometown: Sao Miguel do iguaçu – Parana – Brazil
Fun Fact About Yourself: I haven’t liked any type of fruit I’ve ever tried!
Undergraduate School and Major: Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Project Manager
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Turning around an industry coming from a -16% gross margin to +18% in 6 months
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The diversity of the students, the places they are from, and the background they have – that’s what make them the most friendly, interesting and supportive classmates you could ever have.
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? Babson has a different kind of mindset compared to other programs – we live entrepreneurship all the time. That’s not about just creating your own business, but about doing things creatively. It is not about just thinking outside the box – its about thinking as if there is no box. Every subject we learn, professors are trying to push us to think beyond what is common.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Family Business Club, Manufacturing Club, and Consulting Club
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I believe that from time to time, you have to try to break assumptions, to open your mind and try to have another kind of experience. For me, this was my moment. I believed I was ready to share my experience with others, and that I could contribute to the class. That is what an MBA is all about changing experiences, thoughts, and knowledge.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I did a lot of research, about how the MBA could help me be ready for the next step in my career. Of course, the jump in the salary is really attractive, but besides that and the exposure, the opportunity to be challenged in a different environment and the networking makes the investment worth it.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? ESADE, Purdue, McCombs, UCLA, and Babson
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I tried to decide based on the schools that I believe fit better with me – I used Poets & Quants a lot while doing my research – I printed from the Poets & Quants the “profiles” of the schools I believed fit better with me and started to rank them based on the programs and the extras features (clubs, electives, outside projects) for the schools that interested me the most.
I also choose four schools to visit, which I encourage people to do if they can. Also, speaking with students and alumni is always a good idea – they always have something to say that we haven’t read or heard before.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I don’t believe I had a defining moment, I believe that the sum of the moments, the experiences, the conversations, and the mistakes is what shapes you. That is what has put me in this path right now.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? My plan is to come back to my home country, work in a consulting company, and focus on manufacturing plants.
Where do you see yourself in five years? In 5 years, I see myself ready to return to my family business as a CEO of the company.
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