Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Isabel Fortuño Seitzer, University of Virginia (Darden)

Isabel Fortuño Seitzer

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“I’m a gregarious Latina driven by a quest for knowledge and social justice.”

Hometown: Dorado, Puerto Rico

Fun Fact About Yourself: An ice cream flavor that I helped develop was once produced at a local dairy.

Undergraduate School and Major: Cornell University, SC Johnson College of Business, Major in Hotel Administration

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Publicis Sapient, Account Executive

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? Life, and especially the business world, is but a series of cases. We are consistently faced with challenges that are presented not as a series of tables in a textbook, but rather as a conversation among peers with the goal of finding the strongest solution. With the case method, I can get the best inputs from my classmates with their variety of fascinating backgrounds and use those inputs to craft a solution. In my experience in the workplace, the best ideas came from collaborative workshops where everyone was encouraged to share their point of view. As a manager, you are strongest when your team feels empowered to speak up and be a part of crafting the solution. The case method trains us to operate this way first, not as a last resort.

Aside from your classmates and the case method, 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 openness of the community, particularly among faculty and administrators, was an important factor in my decision-making process. Every person that I interacted with throughout the application process gave me their honest opinion no matter the question asked, even those that were not wholly positive. No place is perfect, but I very quickly felt like this acknowledgement of faults within the community was a means for constant improvement. I felt comfortable voicing my opinion and making suggestions for improvement with every person I spoke to. That is a rarity.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Collaborative. Darden prides itself in the case and learning team model and they certainly do an excellent job of attracting students who thrive in those settings. Throughout the summer, I have participated in many Zoom hangouts and group chats where incoming students share advice they have gleaned from their own careers or through chats with second year students and alumni, tips on apartments and moving, and just generally have worked together to make sense of what this year might look like given COVID-19.

What makes you most excited about starting business school here? What makes you most nervous? I am excited to return to the school setting where learning is my main goal on a daily basis. I know that Darden is famous for its rigorous academic program, but the nerdiest parts of me are secretly excited to have structured academics return to my life. I am definitely nervous to see how the experience translates to a virtual format due to COVID-19. The team at Darden has been working non-stop to make it as rich and engaging as possible given the circumstances, but there are definitely elements that will be more complicated in these circumstances.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I had the incredible opportunity of leading the day-to-day operations for our team over the last two years. In this role I worked with both our clients and internal teams to determine how to best allocate resources in order to meet strategic goals, developed and executed plans for individual projects across the account, and ultimately helped guide our clients into a truly transformational space for their brand.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? While the people and challenges of my last role were difficult to leave, I wanted to focus my energy on work that would have a lasting societal impact. At Cornell, we were reminded daily that “Life is service…” and I was looking for a way to live by that motto. Returning to school to strengthen some of my “hard skills” seemed like an excellent way to begin the transition. I am in the process of determining how exactly a service-driven career comes to life, be it in areas such as politics, social impact consulting or directly with a nonprofit, but I know that my time at Darden will be well spent as I learn from my professors and peers.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? UNC Kenan Flagler, Michigan Ross, Texas McCombs, Berkeley Haas, UCLA Anderson, and HBS

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why?

Since being accepted, what have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? Darden has been a great help in preparing us for both our upcoming two years at school as well as what lies beyond. As both a Consortium and Forté fellow, I had the opportunity to take part in two pre-orientation conferences in June that were an excellent primer for school and the recruiting process. In addition to those events, I have been working my way through Darden’s summer offerings for incoming students including CDWhy, BReady, the accounting courses, and an engaging series of webinars. I’ve also taken the time to get to know some of my classmates and started to build the friendships that will carry us through the next two years and beyond.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I’ll let you know when it happens.

What is your favorite company and why? As a former hospitality student, I am particularly partial to Flour Bakery + Cafe based out of Boston, MA. Founder Joanne Chang has an innovative pastry and food vision that brings delight to consumers while reacting to the ever-changing food supply of the seasons. Aside from the incredible pastry selections, I am always impressed with the desire to be an integral player in the Boston community through monthly round-up donations to local charities, semi-annual fundraisers for community organizations, ingredient sourcing from companies throughout New England, and a truly familial atmosphere amongst the staff. Joanne and team live their mission each and every day.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.