Meet Rochester Simon’s MBA Class Of 2021

Ysabel Villamor

Simon Business School at the University of Rochester

“Social butterfly. Never runs out of energy. Gets things done. Delivers results.”

Hometown: Manila, Philippines

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m a cheerleader and ballerina, who loves jumping out of planes.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of the Philippines, Major – Business Administration

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Smart Communications, Trade Marketing Manager

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Spearheaded the planning and execution of trade activities for the first-ever free YouTube campaign in the Philippines.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Brave. Business school is no joke! Every day presents a new challenge that requires us to move out of our comfort zone. This may be in the form of speaking in public, dealing with quant heavy subjects such as finance and accounting, or adapting to a different culture. It takes a lot of courage to be able to overcome these challenges. What motivates us to go on is the support that we get from one another. We always help each other out because, in the end, we want to see everyone succeed.

Rochester Simon is known for being “unabashedly analytical.” Why does the program’s focus on quantitative analysis and decision-making appeal to you? How do you intend to leverage this approach as a student and professional? The program’s focus on quantitative analysis and decision-making appealed to me because these two skills are crucial in business. It can be applied across all organizations, regardless of industry. Having a good quantitative foundation is always an advantage especially in coming up with business strategies. As a student, I plan to learn as much as I can to hone my skills in these areas. So that after the program, as a professional, I can be confident enough to make major business decisions.

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? The key factor that led me to choose this program was Simon’s STEM-designated MBA. Simon’s STEM-designated MBA option will provide a rigorous curriculum that I need to sharpen both my marketing and analytical skills. In this ever-changing business world, Simon’s approach combining economics and analytics will allow me to predict future trends that will help me provide sound business solutions for any organization that I choose to join after my MBA.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Simon Marketing Association. Aside from case competitions, I am looking forward to the annual viewing and discussion of Super Bowl ads.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “What is your biggest weakness?” This has always been a tricky question for me. You need to strike the right balance between letting the interviewer know that you are self-aware and that you acknowledge your weakness. At the same time, you don’t want to raise any potential red flags about your work ethic and behavior.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? The moment I hit my comfort zone in my career, I knew it was time for a new challenge. That’s when I decided to change location and job function. Most of my corporate life, I assumed various roles in sales and trade marketing. These roles required working closely with the consumer. This sparked my interest in brand management and consumer behavior. In order to catapult my career in Marketing, I decided to apply to MBA programs outside of my home country.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Ross, Tepper, Stanford, Tuck, Fuqua

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized 3Cs in determining my fit for the school – Curriculum, Career Potential, and Culture. I did my research using online forums, school rankings and attending various MBA fairs. But the most valuable resource was talking to the admissions team, current students, and alumni. They had a lot of information about the curriculum and career centers of each school. Most importantly, I was able to get a preview of the school’s culture and community through these conversations.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My first time that I traveled alone presented a lot of challenges during the trip. Exploring the city alone, having no one to depend on, gave me a greater sense of independence. It also taught me to be more spontaneous and adventurous when it comes to experiencing new things. Getting lost was part of the journey. I realized that sometimes the best memories are made during moments when you just let go and allow yourself to get lost in an unfamiliar place.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I see myself running my own business and traveling around the world with friends and family.

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