Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Ramon da Silva Sampaio, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Ramon da Silva Sampaio             

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

Always trying something new and having butterflies in the stomach.”

Hometown: Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Fun Fact About Yourself: In high school, I used to compete in Science Olympiad and I was certain I was going to become a physicist!

Undergraduate School and Major: Instituto Federal da Bahia – Electrical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Petrobras – Business Systems 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? Kellogg’s approach to team-based learning was a key component that led my decision. At Kellogg, the faculty is strongly committed to fostering team exercises and interactions, which allows us to practice our ability to communicate and work with people from different experiences, perspectives and opinions, with the ultimate goal to deliver the best work possible. Being able to work effectively in a team is a skill absolutely necessary for anyone who is a leader or wants to become one someday. As leaders, we will frequently be part of many teams, and being able to transition from different teams (homogenous or heterogenous) consciously of our own biases and aware of our duties, extracting the best of each interaction, will positively impact our careers. I truly feel like Kellogg will prepare me to be this kind of leader.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Genuinely Interested. My classmates are very interested in hearing stories and sharing their own. This genuine interest in others is something very evident at Kellogg. My classmates are always open to scheduling a call to have a conversation, which leads to genuine connections. It goes beyond a superficial interest.

In only one month, I’ve shared “the real me” and the experiences that have led me to where I am today.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I am serving as the Director of Outreach and Engagement for Kellogg’s  Latin American Club (K-LatAm), and I am very excited to foster an interaction between the Kellogg community and Latin American companies and governments to aid in having more Kellogg graduates develop the LATAM region.

Also, Kellogg’s Consulting Club has already been very helpful in providing support for my career transition. The sense of community and the members’ willingness to help is impressive and makes me feel fortunate to be at Kellogg.

Last, but not least, I have also been engaging with the school as an admissions ambassador, helping to attract the next generation of Kellogg MBAs, ensuring the continuity of our biggest asset: our differentiated culture.

Kellogg is often described as “team-driven.” In your experience, what is the most important quality of a team member? How do you intend to bring that into Kellogg? This may sound cliché. In my experience, empathy is the most important quality of a team member. It is very hard to work with different people and yield good results if you don’t have empathy and put yourself into other people’s shoes. Every individual brings a different perspective that is a result of their own experiences, their previous interactions, and the intellectual and emotional baggage they have accumulated throughout their lives. Being able to be empathetic is the key to understanding and valuing contributions.

Throughout my career, I have worked with many different people (age, gender, social status, etc.) and it has helped to develop both empathy and the ability to build bridges using communication. I intend to bring this skill to Kellogg and to form meaningful connections within the community.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: It was leading a team during the COVID-19 pandemic. I had to ensure that each individual received the personalized support that they needed all while continuing to deliver results!

Besides the fact that we were all individually trying to remain safe – some with families to take care of – my team was under high pressure, responsible for a very important and defining project in our business unit. As a result, we remained committed and established procedures that allowed us to be close enough to cover for each other when needed and to support each other.

This is my biggest accomplishment.  Besides the fact that we worked beautifully as a team to yield excellent results, the team recognized my efforts as a leader to promote a supportive environment in this moment of crisis. It is easy to lead when people are intrinsically motivated and things are going well. In the moments of crisis, we see who is willing to provoke the changes necessary to align the interests of a company and its people.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? When I was leading a team of 13 people in a previous position, it dawned on me that I needed to gain business foundation in order to advance as a manager and as an executive. Besides the academic aspect of the MBA – which for me was very important – I also knew that it would broaden opportunities for the future and help me to expand my network with other brave leaders who are aiming to change the world around them. I feel that after Kellogg I will be prepared not only intellectually but also inspirationally.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Many others! Coming from a non-traditional career path, I decided to apply to as many programs as I could to secure a good offer. It was exhausting!

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “Why this (my long-term dream) is important?” This question has stuck with me since the admissions process. At the moment I was asked this question, it became clear to me that success was more about the impact I could make to other people’s lives than the position I could achieve.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I used many tools in my decision process to determine fit such as analyzing career employment reports, diving into school websites, analyzing the courses offered and the professor’s interests, and understanding how the location would affect my experience.

However, at the end of the day, the most important tool that I used was talking to alumni and current students. It was very important to me to have those conversations (and I’d recommend multiple) because I was able to imagine the possibility of building relationships and a network with them moving forward.

At Kellogg, the support I had from the admissions team and current students made me feel like I was a member of the community even before receiving my acceptance letter. I remember picturing myself at Kellogg throughout the whole process. When the decision moment arrived, it was no brainer that Kellogg was the right place for me.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? This is not so much a defining moment, but early in my carrier I was able to realize the responsibility leaders have in the development of others and in motivating people to achieve great things (or the opposite). Seeing this result in my own career, through ups and downs, I decided to commit to become a leader and to be intentional and thoughtful in my actions serving my team.

The first lesson I applied later in my career, managing a diverse team of 13, was seeing and treating my team members as individuals, not a workforce. I realized that I could inspire them to deliver great results by being empathetic and really understanding their aspirations, complaints, weaknesses, and strengths.

These experiences prepared me for business school in a very special way: I know what kind of leader I want to be, and I know how I want to be remembered. Now, it is time to acquire and develop the skills necessary to do so.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? The company that I have most admired recently is Nubank. Interestingly enough, it was co-founded by a Kellogg Alumna: Christina Junqueira. Nubank is the leading fintech company in Latin America. Even though I haven’t become a customer yet, I actively follow their actions and cheer for their success. From Nubank, business students can learn how to master the art of customer service even in industries that usually (in my opinion) do this poorly. I started to pay close attention to Nubank by listening to many friends defending them and propagating their value proposition. It is impressive how their customers believe and support in the revolution they are promoting in Brazil!


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