Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Ximena Bobadilla, USC (Marshall)

Ximena Bobadilla (they/them/theirs)

USC, Marshall School of Business

“Queer, Non-Binary, Latinx Leader with aspirations to help improve our communities for historically underrepresented minorities.”

Hometown: Mexico City and Miami, Florida

Fun Fact About Yourself: I proposed to my partner whitewater rafting and cliff jumping in Split, Croatia.

Undergraduate School and Major: Wellesley College, Architecture Major, Cinema and Media Studies Minor

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Leicht, Senior Technical Designer

What word best describes the Marshall MBA students you’ve met so far and why? I believe that the students at Marshall that I have met so far are collaborative. I think Marshall did a great job of putting together a group of students that understand the importance of working together.

What makes Los Angeles such a great place to earn an MBA? As someone who eventually wants to improve representation of LGBTQ+ and People of Color in film and television, I was excited to get my MBA in a city where my network would be beneficial. Also, as someone who was living in NYC pre-MBA, I was craving warmer weather year-round; Los Angeles has the best weather!

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of USC Marshall’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I liked the way that Marshall organized our first-year classes for us. Our class of approximately 220 students gets divided into three cores; we then take all of our required MBA courses together until we can start taking electives in the Spring Semester. The class structure really attracted me to the program because it would facilitate closer connections with the people in my class. As someone who is pivoting from a non-business background, I felt that the best way I can learn (aside from the classes) is from my classmates.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at USC Marshall? I am so excited for Marshall Pride! I connected with the club a few months ago, and those chats were one of the biggest reasons I felt like I could fit in at Marshall. My MBA is my first time being ‘out’ in a professional and career setting, and I wanted to make sure I picked a school where I could connect with the students. I had many conversations with people from Marshall Pride, and those conversations made it clear to me that Marshall was where I wanted to go.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment in my career was this week when I started the full-time MBA program at USC Marshall School of Business as both a Consortium and ROMBA Fellow. As a first generation immigrant, I felt I grew up in a world that wasn’t made for me to succeed. Business School was never on my radar because it wasn’t something that people in my family had ever done. Navigating the U.S. College and Graduate School Application process is incredibly challenging if you have little support and guidance. I had to teach myself how to thrive in a system that I wasn’t prepared for, so stepping into my first MBA Class this week was my biggest accomplishment so far.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? Last year, I found the inspiration to focus my life on fighting for racial justice and equality, especially for historically underrepresented minorities. I don’t think I would have had the courage to change my career path and look to create a life with more meaning and purpose if it wasn’t for this complete disruption. I feel it is time for us to contribute to the world and help others facing systemic injustices. During the pandemic, I felt my eyes were opened to realize I am drawn to a life where I could spend every day making sure I make our communities better for underrepresented minorities.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? As someone coming from a non-traditional background, I felt that an MBA would help me develop an entirely new set of skills that can build off my existing experience. I knew that using an MBA to pivot functions or industries was commonplace, and felt like-minded people would surround me. After graduation, I would like to work for a company trying to improve DEI initiatives for different clients. I want to learn from existing businesses before eventually starting my own company where I can continue to work researching DEI and improving workers’ lives.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? NYU Stern, UCLA Anderson, CBS, and HBS

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into USC Marshall’s MBA program? There are two things I would recommend applicants to do:

1. Spend time before starting your application thinking about your “Why.” I think I spent more time thinking about my essay rather than writing it. I spent many hours and days thinking about the type of impact I want to have, and my intrinsic motivations. I think that if you have a good understanding of yourself, then it is easier to present your authentic self in an application.

2. I would invest time trying to get to know people in the program. Talk to students and faculty to see how you get along with everyone. I had many coffee chats with current students during the application process and got a good sense of the culture at Marshall. Those chats made it very clear that Marshall is the right fit for me, and I believe I was able to navigate the application better because of it.


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