2021 MBAs To Watch: Mariana Martins, Stanford GSB

Mariana Martins

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Passionate traveler and dancer, with a never-ending curiosity and desire to face new challenges.”

Hometown: Aveiro, Portugal

Fun fact about yourself: Growing up, my sisters, my cousin and I did a musical / dance performance for the whole family every Christmas night

Undergraduate School and Degree: BSc in Economics from Nova School of Business and Economics (Portugal), Master in Management from IE Business School (Spain)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Junior Associate at McKinsey & Company (Lisbon)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Amazon (US – Remote)

Where will you be working after graduation? Associate at McKinsey & Company (San Francisco)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: GSB Tech Club CFO, GSB Show Dance Director, Siebel Scholar Class of 2021

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It happened when the pandemic forced us into lockdown while we were half way through GSB Show rehearsals. I was co-choreographer in one of the Show’s dances and, even though most dance pieces were cancelled given the complexity of remote practice, all our dancers were committed to continuing rehearsals. My co-choreographer and I had to get creative on modifying the piece and teaching it virtually and our dancers ultimately recorded themselves to be added to the Show (now in Movie format). Overall, it was impressive to see how the Show leadership and cast were able to quickly adapt to the changing circumstances to produce a movie that was one of the highlights to the GSB community during those early months of social distancing and sheltering-in-place.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The work I developed as a consultant with a telecommunications client in Sub-Saharan Africa. Due to staffing limitations, I spent ~5 months directly supporting the client’s head of sales in defining a strategy to increase mobile penetration in one of the continent’s worst performing countries in this metric. Leveraging geospatial analytics resources, I was able to model population, network coverage and points of sale with high granularity, ultimately identifying a ~20% gap in the client’s agent network. By growing mobile service accessibility, this project improved inclusivity and provided the country’s population with increased access to information, jobs and financial and health services.

Why did you choose this business school? One of the most important factors for me was the school’s focus on leadership development, which was well-aligned with my desire to become better at leading and influencing people. The GSB exceeded my expectations with its practical approach to leadership learning in core curriculum courses like Leadership Labs, electives such as Managing Growing Enterprises, and other experiences like the Executive Challenge and the Personal Leadership Coach program.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Peter DeMarzo. He teaches a Corporate Financial Modelling class that I took last spring. It provides students with a comprehensive financial modelling toolkit and was one of the steepest learning curves I experienced at the GSB. I am currently working with Professor DeMarzo as part of his TA team for this year’s Spring Quarter and the amount of time and thought he puts into preparing and running the class is truly admirable!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The GSB Show. It is a comedy musical entirely written, run, and delivered by GSB students with lots of humor and fun singing and dancing acts. To me, the GSB Show is a space to be creative and it reflects the ability of GSB students to laugh at themselves (even during a global pandemic).

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have taken Startup Garage. This is a practical course that helps student teams design and test new business concepts. Being interested in becoming an entrepreneur later in my career, I believe this class would have provided me with a valuable hands-on experience even if not wanting to pursue the entrepreneurial path right after graduation.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That everyone will be a Silicon Valley entrepreneur post-graduation. We have access to incredible entrepreneurship curriculum and resources and a large number of students work on startup ideas during the MBA, but the GSB class is extremely diverse in career aspirations and in problems that students are trying to solve.

What surprised you the most about business school? The incredibly supportive community. Colleagues, faculty, alumni, and staff all go out of their way to help you and push you to succeed.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I was authentic and transparent in telling my story and talking about my personal values.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Jenny Zhou. She is incredibly caring, dedicated, and brave. When Jenny’s not coaching first-year MBAs as an Arbuckle Leadership Fellow, leading an investment team at the GSB Impact Fund or working for the Women in Management club, I have some fun being co-Dance Director of the GSB Show with her. She has some killing dance skills too!

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? Although I deeply miss the in-person connections, the school was able to adapt quickly to an online environment. Most professors went the extra mile to connect with students, bring in incredible guest speakers, experiment with technology, and show up with high energy and compassion. Also, I want to give a huge shout out to the Student Association for rising up to the challenge of representing students’ voices in this process!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? It would be my father, who is one of my greatest inspirations. He was the first in his family to earn a college degree and started his own business in construction in the early 1990s, expanding to more than 10 different industries over the years. His entrepreneurial spirit, resilience, and passion for embracing new challenges deeply inspired me to pursue my studies in business and follow his example.

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

  1. Start my own company
  2. Become an angel investor and support impact-focused entrepreneurs

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

“Mariana has been an outstanding contributor to the MBA 2021 Class. I teach the Corporate Financial Modeling course at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. This course is one of the most demanding courses in the MBA curriculum, integrating finance, accounting, economics, and advanced modeling skills. Students learn to build integrated financial models to analyze venture capital funding, M&A transactions, and leveraged buyouts. A critical aspect of the course is learning how to present – and critique – financial models.

I taught the course last spring as we entered lockdown. Mariana’s performance in the course was outstanding, at the top of a class of 180 students. But even more impressive than her individual performance was her dedication to providing peer feedback to her colleagues. The quality and quantity of the feedback she provided was truly unmatched.  Especially in the time of COVID, where peer interactions are much more limited, her contributions to the course were incredibly valuable; so much so that I have invited her to help co-teach the course this spring. Fortunately, she has agreed, and I am delighted that another generation of students in the course will receive the benefit of her insights.”

Peter DeMarzo
Staehelin Family Professor of Finance
Stanford GSB



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