Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Pedro Gonzalez, Stanford GSB

Pedro Gonzalez

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Son, brother, dog-owner, salsa dancer, soccer fan, Colombian, aspiring entrepreneur with dreams of changing LATAM.”

Hometown: Cali, Colombia

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was a professional salsa dancer while I was in undergrad and competed in two World Salsa Festivals.

Undergraduate School and Major: I studied Economics and International Business at Icesi University in my hometown, Cali, Colombia. I’m currently a dual degree student pursuing a Master in Public Administration (MPA) at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: I worked as an economist at the Economic Development Office at the City Hall of Cali, Colombia.

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? I was attracted to Stanford GSB primarily because of the school’s unique focus on developing students as leaders through the honing of their soft skills. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I know that this will be very useful in my career and life, and I appreciate that I can prioritize this aspect of my self-development at the GSB. I’m currently enrolled in Interpersonal Dynamics, also known as “Touchy Feely” (the most iconic class at the GSB), where I’m learning about the different roles that I can play in group settings and the impressions that I leave on others. I have felt that the class is a safe space where I have been able to receive candid feedback, and the lessons I’ve learned thus far have already begun to shape the way in which I interact with others.

What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about Stanford GSB so far? Being a part of Stanford GSB has allowed me to build strong and meaningful relationships with many international leaders and alumni who share my common goal of driving impact in Latin America. Before, I never imagined that I would have a chance to sit down with David Velez (the founder of Nubank), William Shaw (the co-founder of Viva Air and Ultra Air) or Harold Eder (the CEO of Manuelita) to learn about their career and life journeys and ask them for advice. The strength of the network has really impressed me, and I attribute this to the small class size and Stanford’s sense of community.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Every GSBer I have met has displayed curiosity in a different way – whether it is through asking an insightful question of a guest speaker in class, exploring a new startup idea, getting to know other classmates, or seeking to challenge their own assumptions about an idea. GSBers approach new challenges with excitement, with good intentions, and a willingness and desire to learn and create a positive impact in the world around them.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was part of the team that created the first public policy of economic development in Cali, Colombia, allocating $100M+ for its implementation over the next 10 years across four strategic lines: business development and digital, sustainable, and cultural economies. This was the outcome of three years of partnering with community leaders, politicians, academia, and other various stakeholders in the city to create a shared vision of where we want to see Cali in the following years.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? My biggest accomplishment has been being an ambassador for Colombia in my class. It has become a mission in my life to show others that there is much more to my country than the existing stereotypes. I have taught salsa classes on campus, along with directing the salsa performance in the annual GSB show, and I have felt so much pride by seeing others sing and dance salsa on the dance floor. Along with the other two Colombians in my class, I brought 200+ classmates to Colombia to experience our delicious local cuisine, Latin music, and emerging startup ecosystem. I feel honored to have later hosted many classmates in Cali (a GSB first!), having them dance in the “world salsa capital,” as well as speak with local leaders and meet my family.

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

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? From various conversations I’ve had with international leaders and classmates, I’ve learned that success is subjective and there is no right or wrong way to define it. It’s up to each person to decide how to define it for themself. At the end of the day everyone should pursue a career path and devote their lives to whatever makes them happy, instead of focusing on what others expect or want from them. In formulating my own definition of success, I’m realizing that what matters most to me is the positive impact that I can have on others. From now on, every career decision I make will be having this in mind.

What advice would you give to a prospective applicant looking to join the Stanford GSB Class of 2024? All GSB students have their own unique career path and passion. There is no secret recipe or perfect path to this school. If you aspire to join the GSB community one day, I advise you to follow your passion without comparing yourself to others and to not hesitate to apply because you truly never know how things will turn out.


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