Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Antonella Pallares, Stanford GSB

Antonella Pallares

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Compassionate and hard-working Mexican, with dreams of leveling the playfield and having a meaningful life.”

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love everything health-related: from the positive effect self-awareness and therapy can have in your life, to what foods increase your glucose spikes if eaten on an empty stomach, to the importance of a healthy gut for your life. During COVID I even produced my kefir. Yet, I will never say no to a good plate of shoestring French fries.

Undergraduate School and Major: Universidad Iberoamericana, BS in Chemical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Alta Growth Capital, Senior Analyst

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Stanford GSB’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you! Throughout my life, I have always been torn between two very strong parts of myself: a drive to challenge and push myself intellectually and the need to help bridge the inequality gap in Mexico, my home country. This has always led me down opposite paths, so much so that I used to split my time – from spending my weeks studying and working and my weekends volunteering in Mexico’s poorest areas (from garbage landfill communities to prisons)..

When I was thinking about where I wanted to do my MBA, I knew that these two years would be critical in shaping how I will prioritize going forward. I wanted to complete an MBA at a school where people and impact have more weight than financial success: a place that would challenge my definition of success, push me to be introspective and carve a path where my career and passion intersect so I can become fully one. I knew the Stanford GSB was the ideal place for me to achieve this goal, challenging me intellectually while staying true to myself.

What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about Stanford GSB so far? Honestly, I have been surprised that the GSB is everything that I expected coming in – and more.

My classmates are the most accomplished people I have ever met. From securing gold at the Olympics to leading platoons in war zones, to being known as the precursors of tech and political change in their countries, they remain humble and down-to-earth at the same time. Each one of them would rather share that embarrassing story from high school years than brag about their accomplishments when you grab a coffee with them. The professors are leading experts and at the cutting edge of research in their field. At the same time, they care about us and want to actively engage and mentor us – all while extending coaching advice that will last a lifetime. The weather is warm and sunny as promised, and the campus is full of a million spots where you can develop your creativity – like next to Rodin’s sculptures, in a Shakespeare show theatre production, or the Dish hiking in full bloom.

“The sky is the limit” when you are at the GSB, and it’s up to us to take risks and dare to do everything we dreamed of. When my friends and family from home ask me how the GSB is, I simply tell them that it’s “HD in every aspect: people, academics, introspection, travel, and everything in between.”

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? My classmates at the GSB are some of the most hardworking people I have ever met in my life. Every person here is striving to achieve a lifelong dream, and it’s inspiring to see the small steps they take every day to turn their dreams into reality. It is a hidden muscle that they all have and use in every activity they engage in, from organizing a 300-people conference to putting together the GSB Show or even a 64-team Beer Pong League tournament. It is this underlying habit of giving 100% every day that will set them all for success in life.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Looking back, what makes me proud is the journey I have gone through to get to where I am today. I started in marketing at a seed-stage fintech startup, pivoted to public equity investing, then transitioned to private equity focused on QSR, fitness, and hotels. Now, I am immersing myself in crypto and web3 in my first year at Stanford. I’m most proud of how my curiosity has led me to go beyond what was expected from me at every stage and to strive to innovate and improve the places where I developed myself. Looking back, I acknowledge the amount of hard work, fearlessness, uncertainty, and self-teaching that was required.

I strive to continue living a life full of curiosity, embracing new adventures without hesitation, knowing that I have the ability and the support system to help me take on anything that may come my way.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? My biggest accomplishment has been seeing how my mind has expanded to acknowledge an unknown world to me.

Before coming to the GSB, my mind was limited in terms of what I thought I could do and accomplish. Don’t misunderstand me, I had huge plans and bold dreams, but now I see a million new possibilities that I didn’t even know existed. Stanford has exposed me to people striving to change the most challenging industries and solve the most difficult problems, which inspires me to dream bigger.

To acknowledge this, one must be humble enough to admit that one’s vision had been scarce and limited, yet bold enough to reroute one’s plans and resilient to know that it is a long path ahead filled with uncertainty.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Berkeley, Booth, HBS, and Wharton

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? My biggest epiphany came during the first week of school. My classmates and I participated in an activity that consisted of three rounds. In the first round, everyone got a random number of chips worth a certain number of points, led by a negotiation round where you could exchange chips and increase your points. Each person was placed in a group based on the points they had. The next two rounds ran the same way – new chips were distributed, negotiations were conducted, and people got placed in groups based on points. The outcome of the activity was that, despite the negotiation rounds, 90% of the class systemically stayed in their original group. As time passed, it became harder and harder to achieve social mobility, and the gap between points became wider. I drew three conclusions from this exercise:

1) If you were born with high point chips: don’t be entitled, you got very lucky despite the amount of hard work it involved.

2) Acknowledging this, as very lucky and privileged students at the GSB, it is our job to break the system when it’s not at a level playing field since it’s nearly impossible for people born with low-point chips to reach social mobility.

3) Being able to see these fundamental truths of the world in a very graphical way really moved me, as I come from a country where inequality is poignant and present from the very first “chips” we get on our birthdate.

Going forward, I will carry these lessons with me forever.

What advice would you give to a prospective applicant looking to join the Stanford GSB Class of 2024? I’d say put in all the hard work that you need to in order to come here – you will not regret it. This will be the experience of a lifetime and will transform you in every imaginable way; you will walk out the other side a bigger person, a better leader, and an unstoppable force for positive change in the world.


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