An MBA often means a change in career. But for some Class of 2021 Standford GSB graduates, it has meant much more: a new life full of opportunities.
A global pandemic shaped this class’s journey, particularly the international students who studied and worked far from home, unable to travel to see their families for the better part of two years. But that did not stop them from living their Stanford experience to its fullest, as MBAs in the top program in the nation and among the most elite in the world.
Poets&Quants spoke to four graduates of the Stanford Class of 2021, professionals who all left their native countries motivated by the entrepreneurial spirit, and who dipped their toes in new disciplines on their educational journey. Their careers will now take them around the world in exciting new directions.
‘A PLACE WHERE I COULD BE UNAPOLOGETICALLY ME’
Ximena Alvarado Trespalacios, originally from Peru, saw business school as a pivotal component to generate an impact on people’s daily lives.
“I wanted to change things. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to change, but I knew I wanted to do that,” Trespalacios tells Poets&Quants.
Alvarado Trespalacios, who has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, says she pursued engineering inspired by his grandfather. She was inspired by how his work had a “direct impact” on real people.
But after she landed her first job in Peru, finance and investment piqued her interest. She began to envision a role in private equity. Observing her coworkers’ educational and professional paths, she saw a common denominator: an MBA from business schools in the United States.
“It was sort of like, OK, these are people that I admired, this was their journey — so how can I do something similar? And that’s what got me into looking at MBAs here in the U.S.,” she says.
THE CLASS THAT MADE A DIFFERENCE
Spurred to make an impact in people’s lives through finance, Alvarado Trespalacios quickly focused on Stanford and its “human component.”
“What drew me to Stanford was that human aspect of it — they want you to focus not just on your hard skills but soft skills, too,” she says., adding that at Stanford, “I have become a better human.”
During her time at Stanford, Alvarado Trespalacios explored different aspects of finance before finding the concept that ultimately landed her a full-time position in Boston upon graduation. She’s now a vice president at Relay Investments, a private equity firm based in Massachusetts.
“The class that had the most influence in my future life was Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition,” Alvarado Trespalacios says. “It talked about the search fund model, and now I’m a search fund investor, so it was a class that definitely shaped my post-GSB career.
“It was great to just learn from these living legends about the search model, how it works, and just get out of your comfort zone.”
A NEW HOME
Ximena Alvarado Trespalacios says she couldn’t have found her new path, and the exciting possibilities it holds for her, without Stanford’s resources and networking opportunities.
“From professors to alumni, to the Career Center or even friends, just to be able to chat and be like, ‘Hey, what do you think I should do with my life?’ was a really great help,” she says.
Regarding her post-graduate life, she has found a new home in the United States.
“I found here a place where I could be unapologetically me, and that just drew me to come here,” she says.