2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Larissa Reinprecht, ESMT Berlin

Larissa Reinprecht          

ESMT Berlin

“Feminist. Dislikes plastic. Honest. Optimistic. Foodie. Somewhat artist. Too analytical. Loves to love. Contradicts herself.”

Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a surprisingly talented spontaneous rapper and make-up artist who generally panics about performing in public. (I’ll be working on it.)

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Economics, PUC-Rio, Brazil; Master in International Relations, PUC-Rio, Brazil

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Petrobras, Project Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? I didn’t

Where will you be working after graduation? Transformation Manager at CORE SE

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: VP of Operations at the Net Impact Berlin Chapter; Graduated with honors, ranked #3 in academic achievement; promotion of gender equality on campus; member of the winning teams of the MARGA competition and the Startup Challenge

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being part of the fabulous team that got over 100 people to clean the Spree river and its margins with their own hands (and kayaks!) at Treptower Park on a Saturday morning. We raised awareness of the amounts of pollution that are exclusively our fault as thoughtless consumers, launched our brand-new Net Impact chapter in Berlin to the general public, and kickstarted its network with local businesses and environmental protection organizations.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Creating a business model and organizational restructuring worth approximately 20 million dollars yearly in costs and tax savings. I am proud of it because I had to convince so many up the ladder—the executive manager, the division’s director, then the board of directors—that it was possible, that it would be worth it, and that it was the right thing to do. I was given the mandate to do it and did deliver the expected results. It was a tough job, a real bumpy road, but so worth pursuing.

What was your favorite MBA Course? This is a tough one, but I will say it was Managerial Analysis and Decision Making, by Professor Francis de Véricourt. It was one of our very first courses, and it was absolutely stunning. What it taught me about business is that business is done by humans, for humans. In that sense, rationality is not a given, but a pursuit, and goals are hardly as simple as maximizing profit. To understand the underlying humanity of business allows for a closer look at our own biases and objectives, as well as those of others around us, and supports decisions that truly respond to everyone’s needs.

Why did you choose this business school? It has such a strong alignment with my personal values and goals. The emphasis on innovation and sustainability was something that really caught my attention—not only due to the career paths it could open, but also the opportunities I would have to explore them during my studies. The focus on diversity—we were a class of 67 students coming from 37 countries—was something I was really excited about. It was even more rewarding to get to have such an intense daily routine with these people than I believed it would be. Europe and Berlin also mattered. I find Berlin one of the most exciting places in the world right now. It is exploding with excitement, newcomers, startups, and artists, and it’s so welcoming. It has a penchant for improvisation that I really love, and it has a strong creative spirit that not even the hard times it faced in the past could fade away. It is also very brave in facing those hard times—it’s a city that I feel carries unapologetically the duty of reminding the world the great harms that arise from intolerance and blind ideology.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Don’t miss the chance to really get to know yourself. The school has amazing professors and your business learning curve will be steep. If you allow it and embrace it, the learning curve about yourself will be even steeper. A full-time MBA is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to understand your unique way to thrive in high-pressure situations that will be extremely diverse. Make the most of it by cultivating a growth mindset throughout every challenge.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That you have to work extremely hard—for some, harder than ever before. That you’ll be a better, and maybe also a very different version of yourself at the end of the program. And also, that you’ll be able to drink a lot of beer while you’re at it (it’s Germany, and Berlin on top of it). All of the above is 100% true. (The school welcomes those who are not potential alcoholics, too.)

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? It is not about rankings or results—though those do give a sense of accomplishment and look great on a CV—but mostly about cooperation. In the beginning of an MBA, nobody knows what to expect from the program, the alumni, and classmates. Instead of pressuring yourself to shine throughout group coursework and networking sessions, try to get to know people and understand their expectations and what they have to offer; you are going to make a lasting impression that will turn into a solid network. In sum, make the initial networking efforts more about listening to others and understanding how you could be of service to them, and not as much about being the brightest person in the room.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Phuong Tran. This is an amazing Vietnamese young woman, only 25 years old (24 when she joined us), who had already founded a successful art education startup with about 600 students per month in two locations. She is bright and energetic, as well as extremely kind and wise beyond her age. I admire her for her fierce commitment to her values and who she really is. Not only will she persevere when she is sure of a goal or a dream, she will also gracefully move on and change her plans if she realizes they are not going the way she imagined or achieving the great things she originally thought they would. To have known someone with such maturity and power at such a young age makes me thrilled about following her growth throughout the decades and keep learning from her.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My husband. This was more than a career decision, this was a life change we both nurtured and desired. He helped me understand that business was the best way I could make an impact in the world right now. He reassured me that this move from sunny Rio de Janeiro to gray Berlin would be transformative for both of us.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? I have a pet peeve with the S.T.A.R. framework for building answers to professional interview questions. It means Situation, Task, Action, and Result. It reminds me of comic book acronyms such as S.H.I.E.L.D.—in this case, if you succeed in using the framework, you’re a STAR! Very subtle.

I have been victimized by the S.T.A.R. framework. In my first interviews, I received feedback that my answers felt too rehearsed. I guess it’s an interesting way to frame your experience before an interview, but my advice is, don’t take it too much to heart. The most important thing is that you know who you are and why you fit with the company: your values, skills, and experience. Know that deeply, and no framework will be required. Interviews must feel like conversations—it’s about people connecting, not (just) impressing each other.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… working on a Ph.D. in international relations. Doing research on topics related to advancing democracy in a way that doesn’t crush minorities and has also a mutually reinforcing relationship with the agile, supranational reality of doing politics and business today.”

What dollar value would you have placed on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I didn’t pay for a business education or a degree that would allow me to earn a higher salary. What I was looking for was a dramatic change—the opportunity to advance my business skills and my career. At the same time, I wanted to do it in a different country, a different field, and with different people. The MBA enabled me to understand what I could do differently; what other skills I had that were not being used to the fullest; and how I could be of service to my colleagues in the best possible way, being my best possible self, personally and professionally. It also connected me to brilliant people all over the world—and especially in Germany and in Berlin—who helped me further my discoveries and gave me opportunities to put them to use. Such a path of transformation, self-awareness, growth, and new positive personal connections is something that is absolutely priceless.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Southeast Asia—Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar—is definitely a soon-to-be-visited destination. I also deeply regret not having visited Peru before I moved from South America to Europe. It is also top of my list: from the fantastic food to the diverse nature and the Inca ruins, it’s a country I have dreamed of visiting for a long while now.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Larissa is a powerhouse who will drive positive and meaningful change wherever she goes.

Hobbies? I have taken pictures of every art exhibition I have been to since 2007. When done mindfully—not exclusively for social media bragging purposes—photographing an artwork deepens perceptions and connections with it. Sometimes, I will write about them in one of my travel and lifestyle blogs. (I have one in Portuguese, exclusively about Rio de Janeiro, and one in English, about everything. The MBA has let them down a bit.) This is something I truly recommend to art lovers out there: sit down and write about the art you enjoyed and, most of all, the art you didn’t enjoy.

I love writing fiction and reviewing things. I am currently working on a novel (no spoilers!), a project I paused during the MBA. I also gladly post reviews about not only art exhibitions but also restaurants, hotels, books … Writing has been a part of who I am since I learned how to do it. I have kept all my personal journals since I started writing them, when I was still 7—precisely on May 14, 1992.

What made Larissa Reinprecht such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Being a business leader of tomorrow does not only mean to be willing to fully commit to what you believe in but also to always keep an ear to the ground and decisively react to a changing environment.

Larissa embodied these principles to the fullest. Being a strong advocate for more diversity in the field of business administration, her dedication to empowering women to fully exhaust their potential was unmatched. Although her studies kept her extremely busy throughout her time as an MBA, she always found the time to brainstorm new ideas, to inspire her peers to take action with her and to follow through on everything she set her mind to.

In short, Larissa embodies all principles a business leader of the 21st century should have to empower others to live up to their potential and to change the world for the better.”

Alexander Bernhardt
MBA Program Manager

DON’T MISS: POETS&QUANTS’ HONOR ROLL OF THE WORLD’S 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAs GRADUATES IN THE CLASS OF 2019