Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Adriana Solano Zárate, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Adriana Solano Zárate

University of Oxford, Saïd Business School

“Costa Rican Industrial Engineer passionate about self-improvement, supply chain management, aerial dancing, coffee, and dogs.”

Hometown: San José, Costa Rica

Fun Fact About Yourself: I studied in an acting academy and acted in several theater plays simultaneously to studying my undergrad in Industrial Engineering; little did I know that acting would come in handy years down the road when I had to make presentations in front of large audiences at my work and even at business school.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Costa Rica, Industrial Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Procter & Gamble, Latin America Supply Network Operations Service & Inventory

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Oxford Saïd’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? It was how the school is embedded in a world-renowned institution like the University of Oxford, and how the program is not only focused on business from a traditional perspective but also from a sustainability and social impact one. Oxford Saïd promotes students not only to seek a successful career in business, but to commit to becoming impactful leaders who tackle social, health and environmental problems. This mindset that business leaders can, and should be, a force for good is what drew me to the school.

What is the most “Oxford” thing you have done so far as a full-time MBA student? On the day of my first “regatta” (rowing competition), I dressed up in my college’s colors and headed to Boathouse Island to compete along my crew against other colleges. Right before our race, sirens started sounding across the island and all the races were suddenly stopped; turns out there was a swan swimming in the Isis river, and since all swans in the UK are property of the Queen, all activity had to cease until the swan had safely swum away from the regatta. Top that up with chanting a “Hip hip hooray!” at the end of each race, lifting our cox to take a traditional end-of-race picture, and closing the evening with a dinner at Christ Church’s famous hall, and its hands down the most Oxford thing I’ve done so far.

Oxford is known as a place where world collides, be it in the classroom or the dining hall? What has been the most interesting interaction you’ve had so far as an Oxford MBA student? Back in November 2021 I had the honor of meeting Dame Sarah Gilbert, developer of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Gilbert attended a lecture at Oxford Saïd, where she discussed the main challenges faced during the vaccine development process. Afterwards I, along a few classmates, had the honor to attend a dinner where we got the opportunity to have a chat with her. It was incredibly interesting and humbling to listen to her explain the challenges faced during the vaccine development process and how she affronted them, also to learn from her responses to vaccine skepticism and even personally thank her for her relentless effort to make the vaccine a reality. This is the kind of experience that I believe I couldn’t have had elsewhere.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Around 4 years ago, I was offered the opportunity to go on an expatriate assignment to my company’s Latin American Headquarters, located in Panama. I relocated from my hometown in Costa Rica and for the first time I experienced life in a foreign country and culture. I consider this expatriate assignment to be the greatest accomplishment in my career; it was a life-altering opportunity and helped me grow incredibly both personally and professionally.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? I feel incredibly proud of having been selected as one of the co-chairs for the Global Industry OBN. The Oxford Business Networks (OBNs) are student-led groups focused on different industry sectors, which work to promote networking opportunities and knowledge exchange among their members. Along with my co-chair colleagues, we aim and have been working towards creating opportunities, exchanging thought leadership, and promoting social intrapreneurship in the Global Industry. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences in the MBA so far.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None, Oxford Saïd was the only school where I applied. I was 100% focused on being admitted to University of Oxford, an institution that I had admired since my childhood.

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? It is OK to not know exactly what’s next for you after the MBA. I came to the program with a clear idea formed about next steps in my career. However, I was exposed to world leaders, first-class lectures, an incredibly accomplished cohort of 350+ people. Walking the halls of the oldest university in the English-speaking world, truly allows you to see beyond barriers and broaden your perspective. I now know that there are countless opportunities that I could pursue, and this has made me doubt about the next steps that I should take — but that is ok, I am not alone in this journey; I am navigating it along with my classmates. The important thing is to know your purpose, in my case to have a meaningful and impactful career; as to the details, the MBA is a formative journey that allows us to question and reassess opportunities to discover the best path for each of us.


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