2019 MBAs To Watch: Lina Gallego, INSEAD

Lina Gallego


“Passionate, challenge seeking woman, looking to make an impact.”

Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia

Fun fact about yourself: I love to scuba dive. I’ve dived in the great barrier reef, the Blue Hole in Belize, and with sharks in South Africa.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Universidad de los Andes (Colombia), Industrial Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was working at OLX, an online classifieds company, as the manager for the cars division in Latin America.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? N/A

Where will you be working after graduation? N/A

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I’m currently part of the Robin Hood Campaign, a committee dedicated to raising funds to provide need-based scholarships to future INSEAD students. I was excited to form part of this team from the beginning, as the activities aim to raise as much money as possible for new students as well as maximizing the number current students involved in the campaign.

I believe raising awareness and widening the pool of people that can attend business school will enrichen the MBA experience for all INSEAD students, and I was honored to be able to contribute to this.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During my first week at INSEAD, my classmates and I participated in the Splash community project. A project created for INSEAD to give back to the local community and at the same time jump-start the fast-paced year at INSEAD.

The project proved to be a unique and informal way to get to know my classmates and create fast bonds amongst us. But the highlight of the project was delivering a finished playground to kids in a local school, seeing the happiness in their faces due to our finished work was priceless.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? One of the most rewarding challenges of my professional career was moving to Argentina to develop a new category at OLX. I was part of the team that developed a new strategy, business metrics, and revenue targets. Today it is one of the most relevant categories in Latin America and more than 50 people are employed in it.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Miguel Lobo is the professor for Uncertainty, Data and Judgment at INSEAD. The class tackles decision making under uncertainty through using and understanding data in the right way. Miguel made this class exciting by bringing close examples to the class of how real-life circumstances were affected by the subjects we were covering that week. The subject would not have been without this energy and knowledge when tackling statistics.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Introduction to Strategy was one of my favorite classes at INSEAD. It was a class that did not focus on teaching frameworks, but understanding their applicability and their constraints and how using them together could generate a completely different understanding of a company or industry. The class made me have a different view on how to approach a problem and how to get to out-of-the-box ideas that sometimes intimidate us as business leaders.

Why did you choose this business school? INSEAD is one of the top business schools in the world, and it condenses a two-year experience in one fast-paced year. I liked the challenge of following this pace while being forced out of my comfort zone living in multiple continents and meeting individuals from all parts of the world.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Tell your story honestly and candidly. At INSEAD, I’ve encountered the most diverse profiles in my professional career, ambitious and passionate individuals with unique stories. No two people have the same motivations and backgrounds. Your uniqueness is what will make your application stand out, do not shy away from it!

What is the biggest myth about your school? One of the reasons I applied to INSEAD was its international approach to business. I knew that at INSEAD I would not find only one nationality or one type of individual populating the classrooms. However, I never expected the richness of my classmates’ backgrounds to be as vast as it has been. There are over 90 nationalities in one year, with different career backgrounds from consultants and investment bankers to architects and journalists.

It’s always a pleasure to sit down with anyone for a 15-minute coffee and learn about their life. It has been one of my highlights in my time at INSEAD.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? Time goes fast, and you will have an infinite amount of opportunities to dig your teeth. Try and get your priorities straight! You won’t have time to apply to all the clubs, go to all the parties, be on the Dean’s list, and build your own startup.

Also, make time to get to know your classmates. You learn from them just as much as you do from classes, don’t miss out on this opportunity.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mother came from an underprivileged background and used education as a means to change her circumstances in life. Education was always a priority in my household, and my mother inspired me to take on business school, not as a check-box on the CEO check-list but as an opportunity to be exposed to a wider world.

What is your favorite movie about business? Joy is a movie about a woman starting her own company from an idea she had on how to improve her everyday life. The movie shows grit, and how powerful an idea can be when it’s solving the problems of everyday people.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? Manager by Accident. Although it’s meant to poke fun at the business school experience, I think it’s important to laugh at ourselves every once in a while.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…learning by experience, I’d like to think I would have gathered the courage to start a business on my own and learn by doing.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? There is no dollar value that you can place on the MBA. It’s hard to put a price tag on the friendships that you will have for a lifetime, on having the opportunity to experiment with your career again, on having the exposure to inspiring industry leaders and trendsetters. I would not trade this year for anything in the world.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Leading my own company one day. Bungee Jumping.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like my peers to remember a person who was always willing to help out, someone energetic who made them smile!

Hobbies? I love to keep trying new things, reading new books, and meeting new people.

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

“As a true INSEAD student, Lina is a Colombian citizen, who lived in South Africa, the US, Argentina, and Australia. She had to adapt to new cities, new schools, and new friendships early in her childhood however, these experiences opened up her world and positively shaped her. The Admissions Committee liked the fact that she has some varied professional experiences in both consultancies and startup. Lina seemed passionate about her job and the committee liked her enthusiasm, and viewed her as a highly driven applicant with a cheerful positive attitude.”

Are you a friend of Lina? Leave a note to congratulate her. 

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