2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Julie Calderon Benavente, University of Virginia (Darden)

Julie Calderon Benavente

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“A Latina who is always positive and encourages people to be their best selves.”

Hometown: Arequipa, Peru

Fun fact about yourself: I procrastinate by baking; my specialty is Chocolate cake with Dulce de Leche

Undergraduate School and Degree: Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC) – Administration and International Business

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Superdeporte Plus Peru SAC – Shipping Coordinator

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Google, MTV

Where will you be working after graduation? Google, Hardware Planning and Fulfillment

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President of the Global Business and Culture Club (GBCC), VP of Events in the Resilience Initiative Committee, Darden Guide, and Student Ambassador.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? At the start of the year, as president of the Global Business and Culture Club, we organized the Global Food Festival, an event where students have the opportunity to interact with each other and share different cultures and traditions from all over the world. This year, we had more than 20 countries represented and 550 students attended the event.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I had the opportunity to work with some pretty well-known sportswear brands in the world through my former job. One time, I analyzed the freight costs of Nike shipments in Peru and convinced the Regional Logistics Manager to change their transportation strategy which resulted in a 35% reduction in transportation costs.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Peter Belmi is my favorite professor. Not only is he a great professor and a food friend, but he has the ability to make us get out of our comfort zones and start questioning the status quo. His “Paths to Power” class really challenged me to rethink some assumptions that I had about power and success.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? There are so many awesome events at Darden, but I really enjoyed Darden Cup. Specifically, I enjoy the talent show, where each classroom brings their talents to the stage at the Jefferson Theater. It reflects the strength and bond of our community and we get to see a different side of our friends.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Darden for the community. The case method is only useful if every student is willing to share their knowledge and experiences, and Darden facilitates a safe and diverse environment to learn as much as possible. I enjoy being in a tight and collaborative environment; everyone is willing to help and we all know each other.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Prepare yourself well to speak up and share your experiences during the interview process. Because of the case method, it is really important that every student at Darden is willing to teach as much as learn.

What is the biggest myth about your school? As a core general management and consulting school, Darden has a limited focus on the tech industry, which is not true! We’ve had an array of electives catering to technology and data science and the Technology Club is a great source of help. It really helped me during my internship at Google.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have wanted to work on a Global Consulting Project. Some of my friends went to Georgia, Ghana, Kenya, and other countries to help real companies with their strategies and challenges. I would’ve loved to be a part of it.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There is no way I could answer this question! I get surprised every day by how smart and hardworking my peers are.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents have always believed in me and supported my decisions. They taught me to follow my dreams. When I told them I wanted to do an MBA, they were nervous that I wanted to go so far away to study but nevertheless they encouraged me to follow my dreams.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I want to learn how to code and I want to promote art and culture in my country.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like them to remember me as someone they can count on.

Hobbies? I love watching Basketball games (GO HOOS!!!) and solving puzzles.

What made Julie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Julie Calderon Benavente has been an invaluable addition to her Class of 2020 as the bright sunshine that brings the warmth, welcome, and engagement to not only her fellow classmates but to the whole Darden community.

I have known Julie since her arrival at International Student Orientation in August 2018. She was a planner and includer from the very start; her engagement showed itself immediately among the whole class of international students. She made sure everyone had an opportunity to get to know one another in the evenings, not just within the classroom.

Her skills and winsome personality gained her the notice to be elected International student representative for Section A of the First Year class, just two weeks into the start of school. Julie not only kept careful watch over the well-being of fellow International Students in her section, but she also looked for opportunities to have diverse culturally infused activities for the whole section as well as participating in helping to coordinate activities of the Latin American Student Association’s whole Darden community events.

She chose to get alcohol intervention training (TIPS) so that she could be a server at any student events held at Darden. Julie did not care that she did not have the opportunity to drink at these events, she said, “Everyone comes up to get a drink, this way I get to speak with everyone at the school and I love the chance to connect.”

Connect she did, and seven months after arrival, she was elected as president of the Global Business and Culture Club (GBCC), responsible for all school-wide events of Global Diversity. She brought the Globetrotter — student-led cultural presentations during lunch — events under her wing and made sure to seek sponsorship money to pay for culturally appropriate, specific food to accompany the cultural presentations, instead of just pizza.

She and her GBCC team expanded their responsibilities by offering to support any International Student affinity Club in their business and culture weeks, by offering to financially co-sponsor special guest speakers and ensure that there were Globetrotter events spotted throughout the celebratory weeks. Julie Calderon Benavente was not just an idea woman, but she showed up with a smile and a helping hand to every event. She leads the cultural welcome wagon of the Darden School and personifies the inclusiveness for which we all strive.

Her star shall be missed after graduation, but we have all learned much from her example that we will include going forward.”

Larry Mueller
Assistant Dean, Global Advising


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