Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Myrna Barrera, University of Washington (Foster)

Myrna Barrera  

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

“Go-getter Latina that never forgets her roots and wants to create impactful change for her community.”

Hometown: Tulare, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I spent my junior year in undergrad studying abroad in three countries. I began with a summer internship in London, UK, then went to Vina del Mar, Chile and ended in Rome, Italy. I had never left the country before the age of 19.

Undergraduate School and Major: Washington and Lee University, Business Administration Minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: VSP Global, Marketing Automation Strategist

What makes Seattle such a great place to earn an MBA? The abundance of local coffee shops. I know good coffee will be needed. No, but really Seattle is such a great hub for people that are interested in the outdoors. To me, there is no better way to stay grounded and reset that to adventure out into the outdoors. If COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that our overall mental and physical health is so important. For me it was important to be in a city that I connected with and would enjoy living in for the next two years. Most of the MBA programs I was considering offered the company connections and alumni network, but none offered the beauty of Washington mountains.

Aside from your location and classmates, what was the key part of Washington Foster’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Foster’s small class size really drew me in as an advantage over other business programs. I went to a small, liberal arts college and I understand the value of small class sizes. When I attended Fostering MBA Access, I witnessed the tight knit community and support from classmates. I knew that this would be a place where I would be able to build a long-lasting network and community. I value authenticity and that is something that really stood out to me from Foster students.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Washington Foster? I’m excited to assist with consulting projects with local businesses. I’m looking forward to being part of Net Impact Club and working with the Consulting and Business Development Center on projects relating to building the Latinx business community. Most notably, I’m looking forward to the hands-on experience and immersing myself in the local community.

Washington Foster operates off a philosophy of We>Me. Give us an example of how you’ve incorporated that approach in your career? Throughout my career, I found it valuable to empower others with the knowledge and training to excel in their role. While working in marketing automation in a shared service team, I worked to train colleagues in marketing on how to utilize the platform and brainstorm ideas on customer journeys. I felt that working together with shared knowledge, we would be able to execute optimized marketing campaigns for efficiency internally and for our customers.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment has been contributing to VSP’s diversity and inclusion development efforts. This is a focus area that is really important to me, and I was able to make contributions to develop a DE&I marketing toolkit in market research and branding guidelines. The research that I did will not only benefit marketers at VSP, but all the audience and stakeholders of the company.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? The pandemic really ignited my fuel to continue to pursue my MBA for Fall 2021. I received my denial letters from MBA schools last year around the time that COVID-19 became a global pandemic. Two months later, I enrolled in a Manhattan GMAT Prep Course. The world was shutting down and I was fortunate to have a job and the flexibility of a work from home schedule. I knew this was the opportunity in disguise that I needed. The lesson I learned was to not sacrifice my health over what I felt I needed to prep for my application. For me, that meant scheduling in exercise activity and seeking mental health therapy. Most notably, after seeing the tremendous impact that small businesses owners took during COVID-19, I knew that this was an underserved population that I would want to assist, specifically Latinx entrepreneurs.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? After entering my third role in marketing, I felt the itch to learn more in other areas of the business. With the support of my supervisor, I found a desire to transition from executing campaigns to business strategy, broadening my skills beyond marketing strategy. Furthermore, I recognized that I felt the most spark when I was making a positive impact. Hence, after graduation I plan to work in a corporate strategy role at a social impact driven company.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Anderson, Haas, Ross, McCombs, Marshall

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Washington Foster’s MBA program? Take the time to reflect on your story and research schools by talking to students. It is important to understand how your story aligns with where you want to go. Understand that it is okay if your career goals change, but take the time to know where you want to be after an MBA and be specific. Your essays are your biggest advantage point to have control over your story and how you want to show up. Lastly, it is also important to talk to students and ask questions. It is through those conversations that you will be able to get valuable information to add to your essays and discover if Foster is a fit for you.


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