2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Bianca Pinasco, Stanford GSB

Bianca Pinasco

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Hard-working and down-to-earth Peruvian shaped by sports, determined to leave her mark on the world.”

Hometown: Lima, Peru

Fun fact about yourself:

* I pursued a 12-year competitive tennis career, playing nationally (in Peru) and internationally. Also represented The University of British Columbia as #2 racquet in singles and #1 in doubles.

* Fun hobbies include astronomy (A Brief History of Time is my favorite book) and behavioral economics. I have 3 siblings (two older brothers and a younger sister!)

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada), Bachelor of Commerce

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? McKinsey & Company, Business Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? 1) Rollo (self-driving e-scooter startup) in Pasadena, CA. 2) Emirates Group (Dubai, UAE – but remote due to pandemic)

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company, Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Highlights at Stanford GSB (Graduate business school):

* Worked with Stanford Wellness and Recreation to improve fitness center hygiene pre-pandemic. This resulted in a provisional patent that I am working to keep permanently. Our partnership was useful in anticipating and ultimately responding to standards required in light of Covid-19.

* Accepted into iconic class Design for Extreme Affordability at the Stanford d.school. Partnered with Modroof, an Indian roof and house construction company keeping low-income families healthy, safe, and dry through monsoons. Worked to develop modular furniture that turns multi-generational, small homes into multi-use spaces with better quality of life.

* Selected as Siebel Scholar 2021 (see next question) and Arjay Miller Scholar (top 15% of the Class)

Highlights at University of British Columbia (Undergraduate business school):

Selected for over 15 awards. Top 2 awards are:

  1. Wesbrook Scholar (awarded to 1 in 2500), for exceptional leadership, community involvement, and placing first (out of 756) in the graduating class.
  2. International Leader of Tomorrow, a full scholarship valued at $150k+ over 4 years. “The International Leader of Tomorrow Award recognizes international undergraduate students who demonstrate superior academic achievement, leadership skills, involvement in student affairs and community service, recognized achievement in fields of endeavor such as the performing arts, sports, debating or creative writing, or external academic competitions and examinations.”

3) Selected as Jump Start Orientations Leader, welcoming 1500+ new international students onto campus and leading initiatives to build respectful and inclusive communities. Also led multiple mentorship programs.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being selected as a Siebel Scholar 2021. This also led to being selected as “Young people to watch” in Peruvian business magazine “Business”. See end of this document for copy of publication.

Siebel Award Description: The Siebel Scholars program was founded in 2000 by the Siebel Foundation to recognize the most talented students at the world’s leading graduate schools of business, computer science, bioengineering, and energy science. Following a competitive review process by the deans of their respective schools on the basis of outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated leadership, the top graduate students from 27 partner programs are selected each year as Siebel Scholars and receive a $35,000 award for their final year of studies. On average, Siebel Scholars rank in the top five percent of their class, many within the top one percent. The active community of over 1,500 leaders serves as advisors to the Siebel Foundation and works collaboratively to find solutions to society’s most pressing problems.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Being selected as 1 in 14 McKinsey consultants worldwide to represent the firm at One Young World 2018 in The Hague, Netherlands. This was recognition not just for placing among the top 5% of consultants performance-wise, but also (and more importantly) for my work in social impact. This included:

* Leading a pro-bono study with an NGO alone to create sustainable development plans for rural regions.

* Analyzing deforestation in Amazon and recommending path forward.

* Co-directing first case competition in Peru. We took in 200+ participants and partnered with a regional house-building NGO to fuel their growth.

* Co-leading ALL IN (our diversity & inclusion initiative in Lima office) initiatives to reduce unconscious bias and empower women in business.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose the Stanford Graduate School of Business for its focus on making the world a better place. The GSB prides itself for developing future leaders for the world and not just future CEOs. The GSB’s motto encapsulates this philosophy well: “Changing Lives. Changing Organizations. Changing the World.” As someone who feels a deep responsibility to give back and play an important role in the development of Peru and Latin America, I found that my values would be well aligned with the school and with peers self-selecting into it. I could not have made a better decision; today, more than ever, I feel empowered and grounded to drive change as a confident, responsible and compassionate female leader.

A second strong reason was Stanford GSB’s focus on technology, entrepreneurship, and venture capital. Innovation and entrepreneurship are powerful forces that can fuel individual opportunity, economic growth broadly, and improvements for the better of humanity. I hope to start my own company one day, leveraging my passion for frontier technologies and for empowering and developing people within a purpose-full organization.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Katherine Casey, Professor of Strategies Beyond Markets: Developing Economies.

First, at a professional level, her work and achievements are impressive and inspiring. “Her research explores the interactions between economic and political forces in developing countries, with particular interest in the role of information in enhancing political accountability and the influence of foreign aid on economic development.” Most of her research focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa. After taking her class, I feel better equipped to manage political risk in the face of uncertain and discretionary regulatory environments as a businesswoman and actor in the development of Peru. I found her experience and lessons very relatable to my long-term aspirations in the developing world.

Second, she was particularly resilient in the face of Covid-19, rapidly adapting to a changed teaching environment as early as in March 2020. Her positive and optimistic predisposition not only made her approachable, but also enabled me to learn amidst an uncertain and rapidly deteriorating public health crisis.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school?  TALK! Every Wednesday night, our whole Class gets together to hear the unfiltered life-story of two classmates. The night is a powerful and truthful expression of vulnerability that characterizes our tight-knit culture at the GSB.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I could turn back time, especially to the brief 6 months I had of pre-pandemic MBA experience, I would go to everything! I would not miss out on a single social or career-oriented event. I passed on some great opportunities to connect with my peers and engage in new experiences, thinking I could participate in them later in the program. Then, COVID hit. I have learned to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves in the here and now, living for the present and less so for the future.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that the GSB solely focuses on Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Venture Capital. Yes, that is one of the reasons I chose to come to the GSB, and multiple classes leverage our proximity to Silicon Valley. That said, I have also been exposed to fantastic classes across a variety of professions and disciplines – everywhere from Investments and Corporate Finance to Marketing and Entertainment. I am walking away with a more well-rounded business education than I anticipated.

What surprised you the most about business school? Undoubtedly, the people. Everyone in my GSB Class is incredibly special and talented. I have yet to meet someone that I am not in awe of. The GSB did a fantastic job of bringing together a very smart and accomplished group from all around the world; people who are truly well-intentioned and kind-hearted at their core. I feel grateful to be surrounded by such a genuine group, and one that dreams big!

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? It was probably my commitment to Peru’s development and to empowering others.

To exemplify, right after an earthquake hit Peru in 2007 (and repeatedly until 2010), I travelled to affected cities to rebuild houses, schools, and organize food baskets.

A few years later, under my own research project, I discovered prominent gender disparities in the impoverished shanty town of Las Palmas, where women wanted to work but couldn’t. Upon realizing that these women were good bakers, I knocked on every funding door to get approvals to build a bakery in the community center, where women could work near their children. Co-leading groups of 150+ in the brick-by-brick construction, I pushed to create a self-sustaining business that employs local women.

In 2018, I called Qallariy (an NGO counselling female victims of domestic violence) and offered to create an economic empowerment branch. Through this initiative, I helped female victims of domestic violence to start or improve businesses by teaching strategy and business model skills through workshops and ad hoc pro-bono consulting. This helped many break a cycle of violence usually exacerbated by economic dependency on abusive partners.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Lauren Felice: I met her at the beginning of our MBA journey; she was in my Leadership Labs squad, a student group that engages in leadership simulations to discover why people should follow you. Lauren stood out to me from the beginning. She is extremely smart and never ceases to bring in a fresh, different, and well-thought point of view that challenges my assumptions and pushes my thinking. I can always trust her to speak her mind. She exudes confidence, and yet is very approachable and down-to-earth. She has worked at McKinsey, Under Armour, and Amazon. I can’t wait to see her accomplish big things in the future.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? Switching to an online environment was pretty disruptive, and not just for classes. Internships turned remote, and the multiple social and career events that characterize the networking-heavy MBA experience quickly evaporated. Ultimately, some of these experiences moved online, but screen fatigue is real, and it has been hard to engage online as I would in person. Having said that, I feel grateful to be surrounded by such a supportive community during this public health crisis. I feel lucky and appreciative to be where I am today.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad was an entrepreneur. He only ever worked for himself. I was always in awe by how, through his own business, my dad was able to provide for all four children. He was able to invest in our health and education and, in doing so, set me on the fortunate path that I continue to walk on. As the leader of his agenda and mentor for employees and their families, my dad was an inspiration to all the Pinasco’s; my two older brothers pursued business careers first. I followed suit, and so did my younger sister.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Found my own startup and lead it all the way to its IPO.
  • Serve my country in a position where I can fuel innovation and economic development.

What made Bianca such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Bianca Pinasco embodies a wonderful combination of passion, optimism, big dreams and self-discipline. She has a deep commitment to giving back to the community, which she demonstrated through her work to uplift vulnerable women in her home country of Peru before coming to the GSB, and plans to continue afterwards through launching a venture that helps people build more meaningful relationships.  There is a long arc to this commitment—in her own words, “all roads lead back to Lima”—that shapes her future career goals to play a meaningful role in the economic development of Peru. But don’t let her big dreams and infectious positivity fool you, as she is not naïve. In my class on firm strategy in emerging markets, she never shied away from the very real challenges firms face in many lower income countries, and brought a frank and grounded perspective that deepened class discussions.  I simply cannot wait to see where her intellect, drive and compassion take her.”

Katherine Casey
Associate Professor of Political Economy



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