Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Maria Espitia, Washington University (Olin)

Maria Espitia

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

“Latin-rooted, resilient, intuitive with a positive outlook and always looking to help others.”

Hometown: Monteria, Colombia

Fun Fact About Yourself: Even though I was born in Colombia, the first language I learned was English as my parents moved to the USA. I learned Spanish when we moved back to Colombia when I was 8 years old.

Undergraduate School and Major: Colegio de Estudios Superiores de Administración (CESA), business administration

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Project manager at Arrendar SAS

What has been your favorite part of St. Louis so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? Forest Park. While St Louis offers a wide range of activities such as a botanical garden, a zoo and museums, among others, Forest Park has been my favorite place since my first visit. It’s popularly known as the “heart of St Louis.” I enjoy going to Forest Park to play tennis and take long walks; it helps me get my mind off school while appreciating the beautiful landscape.

You’ll be completing your global immersion next spring (Update: the class of ’23 is scheduled now to travel in fall ’22). What excites you most about this excursion overseas? I am looking forward to working with several different companies across different continents to help them solve business problems while also experiencing new cultures with my classmates.

Aside from your classmates, global immersion and location, what was the key part of the Olin MBA programming that led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? I sought a school that would provide a close-knit community to develop strong relationships with classmates and faculty while offering a personalized education, and Olin met the criteria. Its class size has allowed me to create close personal connections with all my classmates and professors, which have enriched my knowledge and perspective. Additionally, the MBA program starts earlier than most programs, giving me the advantage to take core courses well before the start of recruiting season, which allowed me to be better equipped for interviews.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Olin? I’m the team leader for a consulting project with a St. Louis-based company. Our goal is to determine the financial feasibility of a new service. This experience has allowed me to work with a cross-functional team, including members in different countries and time zones, and strengthened my leadership and project management skills.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was working at Arrnedar, a real estate company, when COVID hit.  It was a tough time for all of us. We had a lot of tenants who could not afford to pay rent. Property owners who depended on us; they needed us to keep their business alive. As we needed to make both sides happy, tenants and property owners, we re-negotiated new rent prices for 100% of our tenants. A lower rate that would work for them was better than nothing; that was the scenario they faced. As a result, we saved more than $200,000 monthly for the property owners that we would not have received otherwise. More importantly, we were able to take care of the people and their families, keeping them in their homes so that they didn’t have to disrupt their lives. I’m very happy we were able to help the 130 property owners, not to mention the 15 employees the company had; we were able to keep them on the payroll. I’m pretty proud of that.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Obtaining an internship offer from my dream company.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Olin MBA program? Focus more on essays and networking and stress less about the GRE. Take the time to network with as many students as possible; these conversations will give you insights into the program that you cannot find online and help you identify if Olin is the correct fit for you. While going through the application process, we tend to believe that the GRE/GMAT score will significantly define the school’s decision. We forget that more to our story needs to be shared; the essays provide an excellent opportunity to show who we are and why we would be a great fit.


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