Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Maya Shaposhnik Cadena, University of Chicago (Booth)

Maya Shaposhnik Cadena

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“A passionate woman who hopes to impact the world by maximizing my potential.”

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: Received a bronze medal in Takewondo at the Jr. Olympics.

Undergraduate School and Major: IDC Herzliya (Israel), Major: Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee), Northeast Director Sephardic Division

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? As an entrepreneur, it was crucial for me to join a MBA program that had a flexible curriculum. Being able to choose my own classes and the workload per quarter was of paramount importance to me. I know that business school is such a significant investment of time and resources and I wanted to be able to take advantage of maximizing “Maya’s potential.” I knew that Booth gave me the foundation to do just that.

What quality best describes your MBA community and why? Collaborative. Impressive. Diverse.

I have only been a part of the slack channel for less than two months and I am already impressed with the responsiveness of current students and alumni! I think this is a testament to the value system Booth highlights by “paying it forward”. When you ask a question, the community comes together to help, both individually and collectively. Throughout all the “donut” calls we have been conducting on Slack, I have really been enjoying the diversity of my classmates. On one group call, I felt like we had the perfect mixture of careers. I made this comment: “In this moment we could create an incredible company together.” I can’t wait to see what will happen when I meet the majority of my classmates!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far? My biggest accomplishment so far was creating AIPAC’s first-ever Sephardic Division. The Jewish community is primarily categorized in two camps, Ashkenazi (Jews who lived in Europe after being exiled) and Sephardic (Jews who lived in North Africa and the Middle East after being exiled). When I noticed that the Sephardic Jewish community was not being engaged by AIPAC, I spoke to my supervisors about allowing me to take the reins and trying to “activate” these community members. The senior leadership of AIPAC gave me their blessing and I became AIPAC’s first-ever Sephardic Division Director. I worked with this community for two years and am proud to say that hundreds of individuals from these communities are politically active. I am particularly proud of engaging the women in this community, who have proven to be true force multipliers and “movers and shakers”.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I wanted to pursue an MBA because I wanted to immerse myself in an environment that would be conducive to me recalibrating my career trajectory. At heart, I am a serial entrepreneur. Business school is the perfect place for me to analyze and create my next venture. I feel ready and motivated to jump into the entrepreneurial world again with the right idea and even the right partnership. At the same time, I want to be open-minded and enter business school with the mindset of “I don’t know what I don’t know.” This will allow me to really flourish and seeing what opportunities can impact my long-term success the greatest.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Booth? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? I am so excited to meet my classmates. I am already so impressed with the individuals that I have met and I know that the conversations and debates are going to be fascinating! I am also really excited about being in a classroom setting. I loved studying my undergrad and I really do flourish in those environments.

I am most nervous about being “too open-minded that my brain falls out of my head.” I know that there are so many opportunities at Booth and that it can get overwhelming. I also know that business school flies by so I want to make sure I have a good balance of learning about the opportunities but still narrowing in on what matters most.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? Armed Forces Club – I have heard about the bond between veterans and how much we “fight” for each other. I am so honored and excited to be a part of that network. I hope to contribute to the club as much as possible!

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? What is one thing I would want the admission director who would read my application and the interviewer’s notes to know about me?

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Since I applied after my husband, Alejandro Cadena, got accepted into Booth, I applied to the same schools he was accepted to and wanted to attend. The most important factor in choosing our school was how we felt when we visited the school. That was extremely important because we could tell quite quickly where we would fit in and where we would not. When I came to Chicago with Alejandro for his interview in Round 2, I fell in love with the school, the students, the faculty, and the city. That combined with the flexible curriculum made Booth number one for us individually and as a couple.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? My defining moment was as a 19-year old soldier in the IDF. I learned the meaning of responsibility, empowerment, and hard work ethic. These three skills have allowed me to continue achieving my dreams and be a do-er. I know that at Booth I will be able to tap into these skills and reach new heights.