Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Maria Jesus Silva, Vanderbilt University (Owen)

Maria Jesus Silva

Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management

“An ambitious mind with unlimited energy.”

Hometown: Santiago, Chile

Fun Fact About Yourself: I spent my early childhood living in a small mining town in South America called Maria Elena. It was the last working saltpeter town in the world.

Undergraduate School and Major: Universidad de Los Andes – Bachelor of Business Administration.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Banco de Credito e Inversiones (BCI), Senior Analyst Strategic Corporate Planning.

What has been your favorite part of Nashville so far? Why? I love Nashville so far. Everyone is nice and friendly, and the community is very diverse. There are many fun things to do, from going to concerts and breweries to visiting beautiful parks surrounded by nature (those autumn colors were impressive!).

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? As a mother of two kids, I knew that studying an MBA abroad meant getting out of my comfort zone, so I looked for a program where I could find support and feel part of a family. With around 200 students, Owen is a small business school where you get to know almost everyone. From the beginning of the application, you are assigned a recruiting manager who guides you through all the process, puts you in contact with alumni and students, and always solves any doubts. After starting the program, I was impressed by how supportive everyone was, including professors, faculty, staff, and teammates. Owen offers precisely the professional, personal, and friendly environment that I was looking for.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Vanderbilt Owen? My favorite activity has been the Leadership Development Program, a personalized program where every student gets coaching sessions tailored to their professional interests. We started with some tests that gave us a better understanding of ourselves, our skills, and values, followed by coaching sessions. As a health coach, I am passionate about constant personal development. I believe these sessions have been an incredible opportunity to learn more about myself, receive feedback around career choices, and better understand the industries I am recruiting at.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment so far was being the youngest professor in the undergrad program at Universidad de Los Andes at 23 years old while at the same time developing a corporate career in the banking industry. I have a strong passion and commitment for the things I love, and I hope to keep this as one of my main values and a driver for success.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? I am super proud of joining the Women’s Business Association in the Alumni Relations Committee.

Coming from a country where women have low participation in MBA programs, the road to business school wasn’t always clear for me. I was lucky enough to meet amazing women who shared their own experiences at business school with me, showing me how an MBA program could lead to incredible opportunities from a personal and professional stance. One of my personal goals at the WBA is to encourage other women, especially mothers, to prioritize their careers by empowering them through a great and supportive network of superwomen.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? When I knew I was moving to Nashville with my family, I thought that pursuing an MBA was the best path to develop a professional network in the area and get a great job. Also, it was a fantastic way to improve my leadership and communication skills, mainly because I am not a native English speaker.

After graduation, I hope to transition to Marketing and find a role in a local company where I can grow into leadership positions. I am eager to meet new people and face significant challenges!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA program? Get in contact with admission fellows, current MBA students who offer their time to share their personal experiences with anyone interested. They can help potential applicants gain valuable insights into Owens’ culture. Additionally, I encourage everyone to listen to the MBA Ladies podcast, hosted by two second-year Owen students. It helped me understand the culture, the application process, the internship search, and many other relevant topics related to the program.


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