2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Guilherme Blanski Küster, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Guilherme Blanski Küster

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

Positive, good-natured, hard-working Brazilian economist, family man, forever student, soccer player. Love helping others succeed.”

Hometown: Paraná, Brazil

Fun fact about yourself: My 1st son was born during the first quarter at Kellogg, and my 2nd boy was born in my last quarter. This boosted my ability to tell dad jokes and make puns.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Undergraduate school: FAE Business School (Curitiba – Brazil). Degree: Bachelor of Economics

Graduate school: UFPR – Universidade Federal do Paraná (Curitiba – Brazil). Degree: Master of Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?

  • Full-time job at Electrolux Home Appliances Latin America – After-sales Controller
  • Part-time job at ESIC Business & Marketing School Brazil – Associate Professor

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018?I interned at Microsoft’s Central Finance Team in Redmond, Washington. I joined the Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis team, and I supported the initiatives related to cash flow management, developing financial models, and conceiving e-learning material to educate finance and non-finance managers on how to incorporate a cash-flow mindset into everyday business decisions.

Where will you be working after graduation?I will go back to Washington state and join Microsoft as a Finance Manager. I will be on the same team that I was part of during the summer.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Kellogg Corporate Finance Club
  • Selected as Career Peer Coach, Kellogg CMC – Career Management Center
  • Recipient of Donald P. Jacobs International Scholarship (merit-based)
  • Student Liaison and Grading Assistant, Accelerated Corporate Finance course
  • Director of Professional Development, Kellogg General Management Club; Director of Speakers of Kellogg Latin American Club (K-LATAM)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Through my club leadership roles, I am glad I could organize various events, such as trainings, lunch & learns with companies, social activities, and speaker events – including one with a former president of Oracle. I feel that I strengthened the Corporate Finance Club’s impact on Kellogg through bringing in speakers such as these, which increases our visibility to the rest of the school.

However, I think I am most proud of working as a Career Peer Coach of Kellogg Career Management Center (CMC). I was among the 12 coaches selected to the inaugural cohort of this program, in which I supported dozens of incoming students on their recruiting journey in a personalized way.

Another great achievement was being part of the winning Soccer team of Kellogg World Cup 2019!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? One year before attending Kellogg, I flew to Stockholm and to represent my 150+ member team and accept the 2017 Electrolux Award from the global CEO.

I led a cross-functional project that innovated Warranty Management, reducing by 35% Warranty Costs, improving by 26% Product Quality, and reducing by 20% Service Time. Beyond the impressive results to the company’s bottom-line, the Award was a recognition of the intangible and priceless impact of our project: we positively influenced the lives of ~200,000 consumers by avoiding product failures and saving time.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Mitchell Petersen, Professor of Finance. He is a Kellogg legend! I took his core course called Accelerated Corporate Finance as well as his class of Financial Strategy and Tax. Professor Petersen is energetic, fun, insightful, and his classes are didactic and intellectually challenging. They provoke students to go beyond crunching the numbers by developing our intuition and holistic view of finance as part of business strategy.

Outside of class, he is also very accessible: I benefited from his advice in office hours, from his research and articles and even from his support in clarifying finance inquiries during my summer internship project. I have never seen such a responsive and devoted professor.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Kellogg has so many great traditions, from KWEST, Kellogg’s Worldwide Exploration Student Trips that happen right before matriculation to Special-K, Kellogg’s live comedy performances that have been held since 1980. My favorite weekly event is “TG” (Kellogg’s abbreviation of TGIF), happy hours held every Friday after class. They serve as the perfect time to catch up with classmates after a hectic week, in an informal and fun environment. Further, students with kids would meet up and have pizza at the exclusive Kellogg Kids Club TG!

Why did you choose this business school? Besides being one of the world’s top business schools, visiting Kellogg, I found it to be place full of incredibly bright and diverse people driving high impact but with a low ego mentality. I knew that this type of atmosphere would be where I would extract the greatest value of an MBA – the opportunity to build life-lasting relationships and worldwide connections at an amazing community. During my time at Kellogg, I also had access to hundreds of companies, great staff and faculty, and a remarkable alumni network.

Additionally, Evanston retains the collegial atmosphere, but is just minutes away from downtown Chicago. Kellogg can be both a dynamic and family-friendly place.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Make sure you understand and fit into the Kellogg culture. Connect with multiple Kellogg people and, if possible, go visit the school, attend a class at the beautiful Global Hub building, go to a TG or other social events, and feel Kellogg’s atmosphere in person.

If you are collaborative, empathetic, brilliant, and a true brave leader, you will fit perfectly in this community.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? During my first year at Kellogg, I joined a committee of students from Kellogg and Booth to organize a new conference called Chicago for Brazil (C4B). The conference was going to be a case competition about business opportunities and public policy that could make Brazil a better place to live and work.

Unfortunately, the event did not come to fruition due to a lack of sponsors and other factors. Looking back, I would have dedicated more time to the committee. With Brazil being my home country, I believe an initiative like this would have been impactful and hope to see it come to life sometime the future.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It’s a difficult question to choose only one when you’re surrounded by such a great group of people. I’d choose Victor Barros ’19. Victor is always willing to help others and helped me on numerous occasions throughout my first year at Kellogg, especially during the recruiting cycle.

His insights about companies in the tech industry and his sharp and candid advice was very helpful and important to me. Moreover, he did a great job as president of the Data Analytics Club and had an excellent academic performance. After graduation, he joined Microsoft as a Product Marketing Manager. I am glad I can keep counting on him and join him Washington at Microsoft.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? At age 19, I paused my undergraduate education for two years to serve as a full-time volunteer missionary in northeastern Brazil. On my last day of service, the mission president gave me advice that has impacted my decisions ever since. He knew of my long interest in business and saw my leadership potential. Therefore, he suggested that I consider pursuing an MBA abroad, since most C-level executives in Brazil do the same. This advice shaped my professional trajectory, leading me to Kellogg.

I would have never been able to complete this milestone without the constant and unconditional support of my wife, spanning from the application phase all the way throughout completing my MBA.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Having started my career in Latin America and working after my MBA in the USA, I plan to expand my global reach by having international assignments outside the Americas. Part of this plan also involves learning at least two more languages, including Chinese (Mandarin).

Grow my scope of responsibilities, leadership skills, and impact as to become a C-level executive of an organization that truly makes the world a better place.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A trustworthy, hard-working, fun, and optimistic friend, with a pay-it-forward attitude, a kindness mindset, and a desire to become better every day.

Hobbies? I enjoy playing soccer and I plan to keep playing at least until I’m 70! I love spending time with my family, watching movies with my wife, and playing with my children.

I also like to do genealogical research. I think it is fascinating to learn more about my roots and discover the facts and stories of my ancestors. Understanding my family heritage helps me to better understand who I am, making me more grateful and mindful of the legacy I will leave to my descendants.

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

“Guilherme Küster has a quiet demeanor that masks a fierce intellect and a deep streak of academic citizenship. I was able to observe Guilherme in both my Accelerated Corporate Finance course (the two course finance sequence condensed into one) as well as my Finance and Tax Strategy course. Guilherme’s questions and comments were consistently deep, insightful, and helped me and his fellow students learn. He has a unique ability to assemble concepts from different parts of the course, his work experience, his time teaching, and his other classes, and then share this with the class. On more than one occasion, he assembled logical connections that I had not even considered which were beautiful as well as incredibly useful. His goal was never to bring attention to himself. In fact, when I would tell him how much his classmates and I valued his contributions, he seemed surprised. Due to his contribution to class, I even asked him to help build material for my Executive MBA courses. He is one of the students that I rely on in and out of class, to help understand how the students see the concepts and how to communicate complex ideas in ways that are clear, thorough, and persistent.”

Mitchell Petersen
Glen Vasel Professor of Finance
Director of the Heizer Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital


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