2022 MBA To Watch: Natalia Gonzalez, University of Texas (McCombs)

Natalia Gonzalez

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“Passionate, empathetic, fun-loving, and multi-faceted. I feel the most empowered when I empower those around me.”

Hometown: Monterrey, Mexico

Fun fact about yourself: I am an avid traveler and a foodie at heart, so I usually choose/pick my next travel destinations based on those restaurants I need to cross off my bucket list. Eating well is a top priority anywhere I go.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon (in Monterrey, Mexico), International Business

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Whirlpool Corporation, Sales and Operations Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Danaher Corporation, Global Marketing MBA Summer Associate in Brea, CA (virtually)

Where will you be working after graduation? Accenture Strategy

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Latin American and Hispanic MBAs, Co-President
  • Graduate Women in Business, Vice President for Women in Business Leadership Symposium
  • The Texas Tribune, Board Fellow
  • McCombs Ambassador Committee, Member
  • Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, Fellow and Member
  • Forté Fellow
  • Strategic Career Planning, Teaching Assistant
  • McCombs Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Graduate Assistant

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Serving on both LAHMBA and GWIB boards were rewarding experiences in the program. I am mostly proud of the work I did to organize and execute GWIB’s Women in Business Leadership Symposium with my classmate Alyssa Buchanan. In 2021, the theme of the conference was “Evolve. Empower. Enhance”. We were able to host this event in person and among our attendees we had McCombs students, prospective, faculty, staff, and alumni. Considering the recent challenges that we all have experienced globally, we created this event with the intend to remind attendees how to evolve from our uncertainty as courageous leaders and be driven towards accomplishing our goals.

Also, I am proud of the work I did as a teaching assistant for the Strategic Career course. For me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing others succeed. Supporting first-year MBA students on getting the jobs of their dreams through my advice has been my greatest accomplishment.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the bold moves and leaps of faith I have taken throughout my career. This included switching industries to moving to a different country to build my personal brand from zero. It also included switching roles and functions to leaving a secure job in the midst of a global pandemic to start my MBA. All my moves, little or big, have been intentional and have required grit and resilience. I am proud of the great, good, and even bad decisions because each of them brought tremendous growth to my life and, thanks to that, I am the leader that I am today.

Why did you choose this business school? Yes, McCombs is a highly-ranked rigorous program, and it opens doors anywhere you want to go professionally. That was important to me as I was making my decision on the perfect b-school for me. The truth is I chose McCombs for the people. My first interactions with students and admissions officers were always genuine and organic, the McCombs community offered unconditional support without me even asking for it. I felt welcomed and valued since day one and, since that moment, I knew that not only McCombs would make an everlasting impact on me – and I would do the same for the McCombs community. Best decision ever!

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor John Doggett is my favorite MBA professor. His teaching and leadership style impacted my own leadership style and thinking. In my second semester I took his “Management Sustainability Practicum” course, and I recall feeling challenged every single minute of his class. He challenged me to learn, to be informed, to question everything and to defend and fight for what is right. Excellence is demanded from him because that is exactly what he offers to his students. One class was not enough for me, so in my third semester I took another of his classes: “Opportunity Identification and Analysis”. This is a great class for those interested in entrepreneurship or venture capital. I remember having eye-opening and sometimes controversial conversations that happened in that classroom. I am grateful to have developed a friendship with Professor Doggett as he has helped to navigate the uncertainty of business school and real life. I strongly recommend current and prospective students to take at least one class with Professor Doggett. You will thank me later!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA tradition is the “Storytelling Series”, a tradition started a few years ago by former Consortium students and the Graduate Business Council. I have enjoyed this because it is a forum that has become a safe space for brave McCombs storytellers (from all backgrounds) to be vulnerable and share their personal stories. I like to attend this session every month because it is important for me to get to know my classmates on a much deeper level. As we are inside this MBA bubble, our conversations tend to focus merely on academics, work-related matters, upcoming events, and happy hours. These sessions are a gift to us since they give the opportunity to share our challenges and what we truly care about. I think that through these hard conversations, we can understand our struggles and commonalities and build much stronger bonds with our classmates.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? This is a hard question since I tend to think that the things I did and didn’t do led me to where I am today. One thing that stands out is that I took for granted all the social and extra-curricular activities happening during the first semester. It was easy to get lost in the to-dos, academics, exams, and recruiting. I wish I could have spent more time getting to know my classmates and having fun with them! You always hear that these two years go by fast, but you realize it until the two years are almost gone.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about the Texas McCombs MBA program is that is mainly for students pursuing careers in Oil & Gas, Energy, Finance or Tech. This is false. At McCombs, we have one of the best Career Management/Services teams from top business schools across the U.S. This team is well equipped to enable students to have successful careers in any function, in any single industry from Healthcare to CPG, from Tech to VC, in or outside Texas.

What surprised you the most about business school? I have been beyond amazed by how much I learned every single day from my professors, classmates, the staff, the Career Management team!!! Every day, I learned something new, not only from those older and more experienced but also from those younger than me. I don’t think we all realized how special and helpful our pre-MBA experiences could be until we shared them with others. Another thing I quickly realized early in the program is how selfless and caring my classmates are. During the snowstorm in February 2021, many of us lost power and electricity for almost a week. In less than 12 hours, the McCombs community got organized and those who didn’t lose power and water opened their homes to host and feed classmates. It was an unfortunate and unforgettable experience that made us a much stronger and resilient community.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? During my application process, I took time to reflect on my career and did a lot of introspection work. When applying to business schools, I was very intentional and only applied to those programs that could fulfill my expectations and needs. I did not apply to schools merely based on their rankings or brands, I applied to schools that would enable me to achieve my personal and professional goals. It was crystal clear to me how I wanted my personal life and career to turn out to be. I looked at the bigger picture in the short- and long-term. Although the future is nothing but unpredictable, I kept that vision in mind. The moment that gave me an edge happened back in February 2020 when I was finally able to visit the school and I had my interview. I showed myself as authentic as I am, and McCombs accepted me into the program! When it was my time to finally decide, McCombs along with its future-focused and human-centered approach, as well as the Austin ecosystem seemed like the perfect path for me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is a tough question because I admire many of my classmates. If I had to pick one, it would be Alejandra Tarquino, our class president (aka “La Presidenta”). Like me, Ale was born and raised in a Latin-American country. We share so many things in common. This includes our struggles due to our upbringing and, most importantly, we share purpose and passion. Words are not enough to express my profound admiration for her. Ale is a bold and selfless leader. She is patient and kind. She is a woman that strives to live a life of service every day, and she truly embodied that during her tenure as our president. I admire her resilience and how she has gracefully navigated the MBA program amid difficult circumstances in her personal life. I have watched Ale’s growth over the last two years, and I am in awe of Alejandra’s future. I am lucky to call her my friend and I know this is going to be a lifetime friendship.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents and sisters. They will always be my role models because they instilled in me the importance of education and self-growth. Following in the steps of my older sister, I was one of the first ones in my family to enter the corporate world. A very unfamiliar world to my parents, but they were a constant source of support and inspiration for me and my sisters.

Also, I have mentors and leaders that I have always looked up to, especially at Whirlpool. Most of them had one thing in common: they pursued their MBAs when they were around my age. I am grateful for their guidance that helped me navigate a corporate environment and for all those conversations that inspired me to pursue my MBA.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and I desire to continue impacting people’s lives through my work at a much greater scale. One day, I hope to start my own business venture as well as a non-profit organization that is committed to drive change through leadership in business and education supporting kids from underrepresented backgrounds

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? COVID changed my perspective on many aspects of my life. However, my perspective on career was the most impacted. I made the decision to come to business school in the middle of the pandemic. Not the best time to quit my “secure” job according to many people around me. To me, it felt like the ideal time! I was ready and hungry, and I still am but my priorities definitely changed. I came to the other side more appreciative of what matters the most in life… and that to me is family, is my community, is my people. My top priority now is to make a positive impact on people’s lives through my work, while balancing it well with my personal life.

What made Natalia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Natalia is a very involved and engaged student leader who never seeks the spotlight for herself. She served as Co-President of Latin American and Hispanic MBAs, Graduate Women in Business VP, Board Fellow with the Texas Tribune, Teaching Assistant for the Career Planning class and a Graduate Assistant for the McCombs Office of Diversity and Inclusion. As a Forté Fellow, Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow, and McCombs Ambassador Committee member, Natalia has helped to find top talent for the MBA program.

As the co-chair for our annual Women in Business Leadership Symposium, Natalia was very thoughtful and intentional about the type of event that would be meaningful to her peers. She built a vision for the event with her co-chair, Alyssa Buchanan, and rallied support from other GWIB members. In an effort to make up for lost time during their first year, Natalia and Alyssa curated a social reception and a full day of dynamic programming to reconnect and build community among their classmates. Natalia dedicated herself over the summer while on her internship and through the fall until the event in November to ensure the event was a success. In all she does, she conducts herself with grace and a genuine desire to give back.

Beyond her service positions, Natalia has been a stand-out with faculty and staff. One of her professors recognized Natalia as “an insightful, strategic, intelligent leader who is able to get to most out of her classmates due to her extraordinary E.Q.” She wants to see her classmates succeed personally and professionally. Most importantly, as career advisor, Cara Polisini says, “I would genuinely love to have Natalia as a manager.”

I have no doubt Natalia will continue to bring this dedication and leadership to all she does beyond McCombs.”

Tina Mabley
Assistant Dean and Program Director



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.