Meet the MBA Class of 2021: Virginia Nuñez, INSEAD

Virginia Nuñez

INSEAD

Passionate marketer, always ready to discover new sources of inspiration. Curious and friendly.”

Hometown: Madrid, Spain

Fun Fact About Yourself: I spend my free time jumping out of planes – I have done it over 600 times now!

Undergraduate School and Major:

ICADE, Bachelor in International Business Administration (Madrid, Spain)

Lancaster University, BBA Hons European Management (Lancaster, UK)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Product Marketing Manager at Shiseido

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 diversity of INSEAD’s student body, the school’s academic excellence, and the nature of its fast-paced programme were the key reasons why INSEAD was my top business school choice. Another unique feature of INSEAD’s MBA programme is that students have the chance of experiencing the MBA student life in both a small town campus (Fontainebleau) and an urban city (City of Singapore), making the MBA journey more exciting and enriching.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I think that one of the most complicated things to manage during the next 10 months will be the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), as there are too many activities and clubs that interest me and that I would like to join. I am, however, especially looking forward to join the Retail, Consumer and Luxury Goods Club. By joining this club, I hope to further explore the industry, strengthen my career opportunities, and participate in discussions that drive the future of the retail, consumer and luxury world.

I am also looking forward to the school’s unique tradition: INSEAD National Weeks. During these weeks, students organize activities to showcase their country’s culture, food, music, traditions…I am not a very good cook but I will try my best to impress my classmates with a Spanish paella!

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at INSEAD? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? INSEAD is well-known for its diverse student body, and this was one of the reasons why it was my top choice when deciding which business schools I would apply to. As such, what excites me the most is meeting my new classmates, learning from them, and finding new sources of inspiration from them.

I feel a bit nervous about leaving behind my comfort zone in times of uncertainty. However, I am so impressed at how the school has managed the crisis, with the best interests of students always in mind, that I am sure that INSEAD will provide us with the necessary tools to navigate uncertainty and face business challenges.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment has been winning the Young Marketers Gold Award in the Cannes Lions Festival – the largest global gathering in the marketing and advertising industry. The competition brief was pretty simple: develop a product or campaign to support refugees. I created a business case, the Orange Lipstick Movement, tied to the launch of a new orange lipstick line. Each lipstick would be named after a real refugee woman, and the launch strategy would focus on telling each woman’s story. The official refugee’s Olympic flag for 2016 was orange – drawing on the color and design scheme of lifejackets – so I highlighted these lipsticks as a flag that every women could wear as a sign of support for refugees.

Winning a Gold Lion at Cannes is a huge milestone for any marketer, but it was also a personal turning point for me. I realized the power that brands have to shape the behavior of a society, and I decided that I wanted to take a step further to drive change through brands.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? As a marketer, I am excited by the power that brands have to shape how society thinks and acts. However, because it is easier to measure brand performance in terms of market share, the ability to have a positive impact in society or the environment (what I call a brand’s “superpower”) is often overlooked. Brands can definitely deliver both purpose and profit. For this to happen, they need leaders who infuse purpose in their way of doing business. At this point in my career, as a Product Marketing Manager in an affiliate, I felt like I was not be able to push the kind of initiatives that can drive a positive impact in society. I am sure that INSEAD will further develop my business and leadership skills and provide me with the necessary tools to drive this change.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I also applied to London Business School, where I also got admitted. I felt honored for being offered a place at two top business schools and it was a difficult choice indeed.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging question in the admissions process was precisely the one that, at first sight, any person could have though that it would be the easiest one to answer: “Give a candid description of yourself (who you are as a person)”. Most MBA candidates are familiarized with the process of ‘pitching’ themselves at job interviews, but describing your true self in a piece of paper is a very different and more challenging exercise. However, I realized how important it is to self-reflect every now and then.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? In the process of researching business schools, meeting alumni was the most determinant factor, as the concept of culture in different business schools can be slightly nuanced. There was something about INSEAD’s alumni that immediately caught my eye and was unique to INSEAD: the pride and the sense of belonging of the alumni was clear-cut.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? As a child, my dream was to fly: I would spend hours running around my home with my arms spread as wings. Those memories have stayed with me, but a more recent memory is etched in my mind forever. It was February 2012, I was 13,000 feet above Earth, the temperature was well below 0 degrees, yet I could not feel the cold. I was about to jump, for the first time, out of a perfectly good airplane. My heart was beating wildly and I thought, “What am I doing?” just seconds before taking the leap.

Little did I know that after my first landing (which was slightly embarrassing since I fell and rolled through a giant mud puddle), over the next eight years, I would progress in the sport to become a skydiving coach with over 600 jumps.

Skydiving has had a huge impact on my life and has helped me to grow both personally and professionally: skydiving has taught me to follow my instincts, my dreams and my goals. It has improved my confidence, my risk-analysis and decision-taking skills under pressure and (surprisingly) my social skills.

What started as a fun, adventure-seeking activity has become a very big part of my life and a very big part of who I am today. Deciding to pursue an MBA at INSEAD is similar to my first skydive: it means leaving behind a comfortable situation, financial stability, and job security. But if there is something that I am sure about, it is that INSEAD will open up a world of opportunities that I cannot wait to discover.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? As a marketer, I strongly believe that brands should be bold and brave, and that when innovation meets creativity, the possibilities for a business to grow are endless.

I am strongly inspired by Nike; this brand has enough courage to take a stand on a contentious issue and enough responsibility to drive change in social matters – by empowering female athletes for example. Also, I love sports so I very much like the experiences that their products bring into my life.

What can business students learn from Nike? Easy question –  Just Do It!

DON’T MISS: Meet INSEAD’s MBA Class of 2021