Mariana Flores Aguilar
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University
“Curious, proud Costa Rican, family-oriented and life enthusiast. Passionate volunteer, tree hugger, and wine-drinking yogi.”
Hometown: San José, Costa Rica
Fun Fact About Yourself: I have the most diverse list of things on my bucket list, a few examples are to drive a trailer truck, learn to sculpt and study a bit of Jamaican patois.
Undergraduate School and Major: IDC Herzliya, Government
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Procter & Gamble, North America Accounts Receivable Manager
Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The Johnson community was a key factor which influenced my decision to enroll. Speaking with faculty, alumni and students, I realized that Johnson people are cooperative and helpful. It was critical to knowing that I would be spending two years with my classmates and having the chance to build strong relationships during and after my time in Ithaca.
What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Incredibly friendly. Ever since we’ve had Johnson events, my classmates have shared valuable material to study, organized weekly calls and offered a helping hand to those who needed it. I was particularly appreciative of my classmates when I shared the complexities I had as an international student. Even though these were people that I had just met, their support was honest and genuine.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? I’m looking forward to choosing the “focus area” courses in the second year. Johnson offers 12 focus areas to structure different career paths. As a person with varied interests, this is perfect for me because it provides the flexibility to build an academic resume based on my unique professional goals.
What was your initial impression of Cornell Johnson? How did it evolve as the recruiting process continued? As a Costa Rican, one of the most prominent features I remember about Cornell is the cold winters. Gradually, I began to appreciate other aspects , such as Ithaca’s natural attractions and the academic excellence, which outweighed the periodic inclement weather during the winter.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: It was managing a team of 12 people in my first manager assignment when I was 24 years-old. When I was given this opportunity, I was overwhelmed by the size of the team. Since then, I have reflected on the invaluable learnings this experience gave me. We’re all different and motivated in our own way. We’re humans with problems that can’t be left at the company’s main entrance. Actively seeking to promote values of cooperation, teamworkm and determination is key to achieving goals.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve always been an enthusiastic student about learning. After my time as an undergraduate I knew that I wanted to pursue further academic instruction, the only question was what it would be. During my time at P&G, I concluded that an MBA was a versatile program, which would allow me to combine my interests in sustainability and finance.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Georgetown, Oxford, MIT and Kellogg
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I don’t think there was one single challenging question. However, I do think that reflecting on how your past connects to your present and future is a puzzling and challenging exercise. I always had a fair share of clarity about what I wanted to do next, but these exercises required me to think several steps ahead of what I was accustomed to.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? As a quantitative finance background person, I created an Excel report. I brainstormed about all the different factors that were important to me – city, class size, percentage of women, companies recruiting, and sustainability offerings. I evaluated seven schools on these factors and then placed numbers from one to seven for each business school in order of preference. Consequently, I obtained a data-driven preference result for each school. I believe you need to understand what’s important to YOU and decide accordingly.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? It was living abroad (Israel and Belgium) and so far away from my home. Familiarity always brings comfort and living in a new country or culture totally removes it. The skill that impressed me the most was learning to be flexible with what life gives you – everything eventually serves a purpose.
What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? Urbarium in Costa Rica. I worked with them while I was in the Corporate Sustainability Group at P&G. Urbarium focuses on helping communities in social risk by providing safe infrastructure to families in need, many times single moms. With Urbarium, I helped build six houses for different families. Additionally, they recently incorporated recycled blocks, made of plastic, for the house constructions, creating eco-friendly and long-lasting homes.
DON’T MISS: MEET CORNELL JOHNSON’S MBA CLASS OF 2022