Meet the MBA Class of 2021: Paloma Stuart, Ivey Business School

Paloma Stuart

Ivey Business School at Western University

“A straightforward, perseverant person that enjoys leading teams and take new challenges.”

Hometown: Lima, Peru

Fun Fact About Yourself: Most pictures in my phone are from my dog and two cats, missing them a lot!

Undergraduate School and Major: Polytechnic University of Valencia – Business

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: EY – Senior Consultant

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Ambitious. All the people in this cohort seek to overcome themselves by assuming the challenge of doing this program to expose themselves to new situations and knowledge that will allow them to grow professional and personally. That way, they will later be better equipped for assuming roles of greater responsibility and to continue learning and keep sharing their previous experiences.

How has the case method enriched your learning? This is unlike a purely academic class in which learning revolves around the understanding of theoretical concepts. Instead, case-based teaching presents this information. However, it is explained in a more practical way, facilitating its understanding and also allowing different concepts to be linked. Like any real-life situation, each case has different considerations, actors, problems, and alternatives. The underlying concepts are relevant not only for the course in question but also for others…making it possible to confuse a finance case with a marketing one!

This type of teaching gives us that advantage: the ability to have more holistic learning and to understand the relationship between the different disciplines.

Aside from classmates and cases, what part of the school’s MBA programming led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? As an international student, I wanted to study at the top Business School in Canada, so Ivey was always my first choice. Also, from the beginning, the MBA Admissions and Recruitment team made me feel very comfortable. They always had a very personal approach each one of the thousand times I reached out with questions! I thought that was all about Ivey’s culture, which for me was a key reason to choose Ivey because I knew that this will provide me with the right environment to focus on my professional development. Since being away from home can be difficult, I wanted to feel that in any situation I would have the support not only from the friends I could make among the students but also from the faculty and administration.

You moved online quickly after arriving on campus due to COVID-19. What has the transition been? How has an online platform impacted your relationships with your peers? It certainly wasn’t easy! I had only been in Canada for 12 days when the world changed, and we had to go online. I remember that I wanted to propose postponing classes for a couple of weeks so we would not miss a moment of classes and meeting my classmates in person; little did we know that this situation would last much longer!

I have to admit that the transition to online classes was good despite some technical problems. However, Zoom can be exhausting, and it has been challenging to keep engaged! Another difficulty has been interacting with the faculty directly. However, they have always been available to answer questions by email or even by zoom; they have even done additional classes before evaluations.

Being online has made it difficult to network with all the classmates with whom, under normal circumstances, I could have talked in classes or in the hallways. Now, everything has to be organized, making the space and time. In any case, social reps have made efforts to facilitate these meetings online and then offline while maintaining social distance. I feel that there are still more people that I want to meet and, hopefully soon, we will have more opportunities to do so.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I consider that one of my biggest accomplishments in my career has been being able to grow within the same company. I remember when I started, I had doubts about what I was doing. I took on the challenge of learning along the way at the speed required in consulting. After long days involving various projects and industries, I became a senior consultant. In this role, I had the opportunity to have colleagues who were starting their careers and who, like me, were not always sure of themselves. It was gratifying to be able to feel identified with them and to be able to provide them with advice from my own experience and see them grow.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Before Ivey, I had a single job for six years in consulting, which allowed me to participate in different projects in various industries. However, I was at a point where I felt I needed a change, a pause to put into perspective the different experiences I had so far – and the opportunity to learn from a different perspective than the one I had when doing my undergrad. It seemed to me that it was the right time. Otherwise, I felt it would not happen. I always considered doing the program in Canada – and had even come a few years ago as a tourist and to start researching the programs – so the decision was not difficult.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None. When I was doing my research about MBA programs, I considered other Canadian Business Schools. From the beginning, I felt that Ivey was the right fit for me because of its case methodology, culture, and learning environment. After having the opportunity to visit the campus, participate in a class and meet some of the students, I was able to confirm that Ivey was the right place for me.

What did you do during the application process that enabled you to get accepted into Ivey? Every time I heard about other people’s experience regarding their application process, it sounded like it was very complicated and stressful. Before starting the process, I was already stressed. Happily, the MBA Admissions and Recruitment team made me see that it really wasn’t complicated and that I should only be myself. So when I wrote my essays, I was honest about my expectations and how my previous experience would help achieve my goals. I got the chance to visit the campus before applying, which was of great help because it showed me how was life going to be at Ivey, That allowed me to talk about how the school was a key part of the experience I was looking for.

What is the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started at Ivey? It is important to feel satisfied with new knowledge without stressing over grades, which is something I have struggled with in the past. Also, be aware that work and study keep us busy and distracted in difficult situations. Although this helps in some cases, it is also important to recognize when we should stop, take a break, and not distract ourselves in an effort to understand ourselves and continue stronger.

Regarding the world, my epiphany was how fragile we can be and how unprepared we are to face some situations. This shows all the inequalities that still exist among people – how human activity has impacted the world and how it responds to our absence. We all are responsible in this and what we do next to try to safeguard a balance between our own development and the well-being of our planet.


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