2021 MBAs To Watch: Kelly Gonzalez, McGill University (Desautels)

Kelly Gonzalez

McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management

 Passionate, hard-working, Latin woman, always looking to have an impact in others and society.”

Hometown: Barranquilla, Colombia

Fun fact about yourself: I was named after a Vallenato song, a popular rhythm in the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor in international business, EAFIT University; Master in International Business, EAFIT University.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Marketing Manager at Grupo Bimbo, the biggest bakery in the world.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Deloitte’s Customer and Marketing unit, Vancouver office

Where will you be working after graduation? At Deloitte’s Customer and Marketing unit, Vancouver office

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • MBA representative graduates 2021
  • President, Marketing Club
  • Recipient Lecky Foundation MBA Leadership Award
  • Recipient Desautels MBA Entrance Award
  • Academic coach Stay on track program

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As president of the Marketing Club, I co-organized with the LGBTQ+ association the first edition of the Desautels Business Challenge, a case competition that looked to increase students’ understanding and desire to tackle complex challenges related to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). In the first round, we had the opportunity to support AGIR, a Montreal based NGO that works with the LGBTQ+ migrant community in Quebec. In the second round, we partnered with Societe Generale, and challenged students to develop an EDI strategy for the company. This experience was fulfilling because it helped me contribute to a vital EDI conversation and raise awareness of this important topic among Desautels’ graduate students.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I led the transformation of a global brand in Colombia towards serving the health and wellness market. We transformed the product to be 100% natural and relaunched the brand to the market. I’m proud of this achievement because I delivered a healthier product to consumers impacting their well-being positively, while creating double-digit revenue growth for the company.

Why did you choose this business school? Desautels has a sense of community like no other school, and you can feel that as you’re going through the initial research process for different programs. I connected with a few people before choosing the school, and I always received warm-welcoming feedback from Desautels’ students, alumni, and faculty. This is very important because it allows students to create strong bonds and pursue meaningful connections. A network is not only about the number of people you know, but about the quality of relationships you build. At Desautels, you can be sure you’ll get meaningful, long-lasting relationships.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Sujata Madan. She was my professor for corporate finance. I think she’s the best professor because of the following:

  • She is an excellent pedagogist who uses interesting, easy-to-follow examples.
  • She is genuinely interested in the students’ learning process who emphasizes the logic behind concepts, and a structured methodology of approaching problems
  • She has a kind heart who will dedicate extra time to advise you not only on topics related to the course, but also in other professional development areas.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Every year, Desautels organizes a trip to Toronto with the objective of connecting students to companies across different industries. It was my favorite event because it encompasses what Desautels is:

  • An Excellent Academic Center: We attended different workshops and conferences to learn about the latest business trends.
  • A School with a Hands-On Approach: We had the opportunity to visit various companies’ facilities and meet people aligned with our career interests.
  • A Family: We had a networking, social event with alumni, and strengthened our bonds with our classmates.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have gotten more involved in extracurricular activities and events from day one. I couldn’t travel to Montreal as soon as I wanted, and I missed the French courses that were being offered. I then put more attention into academics and didn’t attend some extracurricular events during the orientation week. I only started to get more involved in October and missed invaluable moments. The MBA experience is unique, and we should make every single day of it a story worth telling.

What is the biggest myth about your school?  The size of the cohort limits your networking opportunities. For me, it was quite the opposite. The size of the cohort allowed me to create valuable relationships and be part of the Desautels family. I never received a no for an answer when trying to connect with alumni or faculty, and I can certainly say that I have an extensive, robust network.

What surprised you the most about business school? Business school is not only about acquiring business knowledge. When I came to the MBA, I thought academics were the most important part of the program. I quickly realized that extracurriculars are fundamental to strengthening leadership skills, and creating strong relationships is essential to developing your professional career.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I attended several MBA fairs in my home country and connected with recruiters. I also reached out to students and faculty to evaluate if the school was a good fit for me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My cohort is full of talented, amazing people. Therefore, it isn’t easy to pick only one classmate. I admire all of them! If I have to choose amongst them, I will say Meghan McCoubrey. She’s not only incredibly smart and creative, but also emotionally intelligent. She always has wise words to share. Additionally, Meghan is also committed to creating a better society by raising awareness on important social issues such as equity, diversity, inclusion, and responsible business.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? COVID has been challenging for humanity. I never imagined living through a worldwide pandemic and never expected to do it during my MBA. Although the university adapted to the online scenario quickly, it was difficult for me to reduce the contact with my classmates and lose the “hall conversations”. In other words, the academic side of the MBA continued with minimum disruptions, but I missed valuable human interactions.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad. He was the one who influenced me to study international business in the first place. I grew up seeing his work in administrative roles in the not-for-profit sector and was always amazed by how a good leader can transform a business. Although he never told me directly to pursue an MBA, he raised me to be a leader and invest in my professional development. This made me realize I wanted to pursue an MBA to boost my career aspirations.

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

  • Never stop learning
  • Create my own company in the consumers industry

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

“Kelly is a pleasure to work with. Not only does she have outstanding potential, but she’s been a generous collaborator and peer to her classmates. She joined the program with a solid background in marketing and international affairs, and as President of the Desautels Graduate Marketing Club she quickly initiated events to her peers’ benefits like the Brand management bootcamp. She worked closely with our team and the MBA office to share the interests and priorities of her class. Kelly also made a difference by contributing to non-for-profit organizations as a Lead consultant for Thinkr Consulting. Her diplomacy and colorful, vibrant personality make Kelly an invaluable addition to our program. Through her perseverance and eagerness to learn, she obtained internships in Strategy & Governance, Customer & Applied Design Consulting and Corporate Strategy at Bombardier, Deloitte and Bell. There’s no doubt she made the most out of her MBA journey and has a promising path ahead.”

Anne-Jennifer Challard
CHRP, Career Coach, Desautels Faculty of Management



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