2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Stephanie Place, IESE Business School

Stephanie Place

IESE Business School

“Argentinean inspired to be resilient and creative by entrepreneurial parents who generated an impact despite macroeconomic turbulences.”

Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Fun fact about yourself: I ran the adventurous and arduous “El Cruce¨ (the crossing), a 100km race through the rocky mountain range joining Argentina and Chile, with fellow Bainies without ever running a race before. Just one exhibit of the value of having a strong community to reach unimaginable goals.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Instituto Tecnologico de Buenos Aires, Industrial Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Mercado Libre, Regional Project Supervisor

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Amazon, Madrid

Where will you be working after graduation? Amazon, Sr Manager for MBA Launch Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Tech Club President (Aug 22 to Aug 23)
  • Tech Club Director for Big Tech (Aug 21 to Aug 22)
  • Fintech Club Director for Connect Conference (Aug 21 to Aug 22)
  • Student Ambassador for IESE’s International Advisory Board
  • IESE Excellence Scholarship
  • Forté Fellowship Recipient
  • Mentor for Women in Business Mentorship Program
  • Social Media Manager for our section
  • Winner of IESE’s Capstone Project

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As Tech companies continue to scale in Latin America, they must also address a key shortcoming: the number of women in top leadership positions. I wish to continue defying the gender-biased context in Latin America and STEM, fulfilling my goal of graduating from the MBA as part of the female leaders that will hopefully drive change. I was therefore very honored to have been selected as Tech Club President, one of the largest clubs with over 300 members, to continue consolidating my leadership skills whilst having the opportunity to give back to the IESE community. It has been quite a rewarding challenge, bringing back events which had been halted during the pandemic such as organizing trips across Europe for students to engage with major Tech companies. I am very proud of the team that have put all these activities together and very honored to call them my close friends as well. Additionally, it has given me the invaluable opportunity to help first years navigate the craziness of the first months of the MBA, just as so many students from previous batches have done so for me.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When COVID-19 emerged in Latin America, Mercado Libre, the largest e-commerce firm in LatAm, had the enormous task at hand of guaranteeing the distribution of essential goods to families who were locked down and providing SMEs the possibility of working (as physical shops were forced to close). We set on this mission of becoming a motor for the reactivation of the halted economy. I am extremely proud to have been a major contributor to that mission, as I developed an optimization model to forecast the amount of workers necessary by task and hour in each of our fulfilment centers. This model allowed the organization to be accurately staffed to deliver the packages on time and at the lowest cost possible, ensuring the sustainability of the business. I cannot describe the joy which arose not only because of this impact on our region but also from the fact that I knew that my parents were safe at home, buying everything they needed through our e-commerce. My Dad, who had never bought anything online before, is now the biggest fan and is proud to tell friends and family what I do.

Why did you choose this business school? Prior to joining, throughout my conversations with alumni and students, they have all described personal and professional growth through rich and startling discussions with a diverse and unique class that shapes your way of thinking. These new perspectives from my amazing classmates have given me the confidence to address a top priority project for the Spanish marketplace during my MBA Internship at Amazon. The global mindset and out-of-the-box thinking gained through case-study class discussions or even in coffee chats with your peers is outstanding.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Choosing just one inspiring professor from my MBA experience is difficult, but if I had to, I would say that Marketing Professor Elena Reutskaja stands out to me. Her ability to guide case discussions and draw out unique and creative perspectives from students is outstanding. She is thought-provoking and engaging, motivating students to come well-prepared to her classes. As an engineer, I was grateful for her excellent introduction to the complexities of marketing. I also want to express my gratitude to Professor Iñigo Gallo, who not only continued Professor Elena’s work in Marketing II, but also acted as a fantastic mentor for our first-year team. He was always there to listen and offer guidance, and his support helped us navigate the challenging aspects of our coursework.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Again, hard to pick just one, but I found that courses like Global Economics had a profound impact on my thinking. Thanks to the incredible Professor Núria Mas, I was able to grasp the complexities of different countries’ histories and understand the root causes of the challenges they face today. Even the case study on my home country, Argentina, was eye-opening, and Professor Mas provided valuable guidance that helped me answer difficult questions about the country’s turbulent macroeconomics. Overall, I’m grateful for the opportunity to expand my knowledge and think critically about global issues.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Along with all the Argentines and Uruguayans at IESE, we have started the tradition of the “Asado,” This is an all-day barbecue and social event to share our culture with our classmates and their families. We are currently organizing the fourth (and largest: 500 people!) edition of the event and I couldn’t be more excited to share a day in a beautiful Spanish Masia on the outskirts of Barcelona. We obtain sponsors from Argentine and Uruguayan brands to then grill and serve ourselves a wide arrange of meats and vegetables for our classmates. It really transports us back to our home-country, sharing food, laughter and music with loved ones. And just like we organize this event, other nationalities have shared their cultures with events such as Diwali led by the Indian Club or Chinese New Year by the Greater China Business Club. It all culminates as well in “Multiculti” an +800 people event organized by students where we all get to share our heritage through food stalls and musical performances.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Throughout my experience in the MBA program, I have greatly admired my fellow classmates who have pitched new venture ideas or even started their own businesses. Initially, I did not see myself in the immediate future founding my own company, so I did not take full advantage of all the opportunities IESE has to offer for entrepreneurs. However, as I progressed through the program, I began to develop a curiosity about starting my own business, inspired by my amazing peers and the wide range of skills that the MBA provides. Looking back, if I had the chance, I would have maybe explored that avenue earlier.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I had often heard that balancing academics, career, and social activities could be tough. While this is certainly true, I’ve found that the school has provided me with the tools to make the right decisions. First and foremost, the IESE community has been an invaluable source of support. My academic team, a diverse group of nine people that IESE places you in, has been particularly helpful in my first year at the school. Secondly, taking time off from work has allowed me to reflect on my passions and keep them in mind when making decisions. Additionally, I’ve also learned how to handle the pressure of this demanding environment through experiencing it firsthand and coming out stronger for it.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was pleasantly surprised by how the accumulation of small moments added up to shape my entire MBA experience. I realized that every conversation – whether it was a coffee chat with a professor, peer, or professional, or a classroom case study – have had the power to mold my personality and skills. In this experimental and collaborative environment, you also get to choose what you put into and take out of each experience. In that sense, every individual has the power to create a unique MBA experience. For me, it was a privilege to share this journey with my partner, Ignacio Rostagno. I ultimately got to live two intense experiences that enriched us both. Even though at times it’s intense, as the frustration of maybe a missed job opportunity is lived by both, it is also equally rewarding. For example, during our first year, I not only got to know my section of 64 people but also Ignacio’s and thus forming our wider MBA family.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? If you’re considering applying to IESE, I highly recommend reaching out to current students and alumni who have had similar journeys to yours. I found that speaking to alumni who had gone through the program before were incredibly helpful in understanding how the school could be the right fit for me. Everyone I reached out to had an amazing predisposition to share their stories and experiences at IESE. Through these candid conversations, I was able to naturally express my passion for joining IESE. This support and guidance of the IESE community truly helped me pursue an MBA at this great institution.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I am so in awe by so many talented, kind and passionate peers in the MBA but my experience would have not been the same without my partner (and now fiancée as of a week ago!) Ignacio Rostagno. With his outstanding leadership skills, he has constantly raised the bar for myself and other MBA peers. He is currently the President of the Energy Club, leading it to new heights, for example, already multiplying by three the number of attendees vs last year of the upcoming Global Energy Day, a conference with outstanding panelists and discussions about the current energy landscape. Above all his achievements, he has also been an outstanding partner, helping me defy gender biases and constantly supporting my aspirations.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would love to eventually return to Latin America, where I grew up, and make a positive impact on the region and its community. It is equally important to me to have a healthy work-life balance dedicating time to loved ones, and hopefully inspire especially young women in STEM fields to do the same.

What made Stephanie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Stephanie participated in my marketing class in the 2nd term of the MBA. This class meets for 21 times during 10 weeks, discussing one different case every session. Additionally, I was the mentor of Stephanie’s team through their first year in the program. And so I had numerous chances to interact with her and see her work. From her comments in class, it was obvious that Stephanie prepared the cases thoroughly, avoiding the temptation to remain in the surface. Her contributions regularly combined quantitative and qualitative angles to the discussion. The professor could count on the conversation gaining depth and height when she spoke. Equally important, while her tone was convincing and solid, it was also elegant and respectful, not undermining anyone’s take. Part of our job is obviously to evaluate students. When I do so, I try to ask myself two questions. First, would I want this person in my class? And second, would I want this person in my own team? The answer in this case in undoubtedly yes: I want Stephy in my class,…even more, I want Stephy in my team.”

Íñigo Gallo
Associate Professor of Marketing

“I had the chance to meet Stephanie when she attended my course on Operations Strategy during her first year in our program. I remember she sat in the first row of the right hand side of the horseshoe. My students typically say that is a double-edged spot: because of its high visibility, it is very easy to catch the professor’s eye when you want to participate but, on the other hand, it attracts many cold calls for the very same reason. One term later, I must admit that Stephanie used the privileges of her seat with moderation (which is not very common) and that I was never able to catch her off-guard in any cold call—not that I did not try. Instead, her preparedness, calm, and willingness to give a helping hand to other classmates during class discussions were an example to us all and set the tone for the rest.

Stephanie made such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023 because she belongs to the rare breed of engineers with a heart. After graduating in industrial engineering from a top school in Argentina, she embarked on a career that spanned technology, consulting, and online retailing. You could see of all of that in her contributions in class, where she was able to enrich class discussions with her experience, but always with the utmost humility and timeliness. Because she combines her very strong analytical background with a natural gift to communicate and help others, I believe most of her fellow classmates of the Class of 2023 will believe her Best & Brightest nomination is very well deserved. I do, too.”

Eduard Calvo
Professor of Production, Tech. & Operations Management

“Stephanie immediately has a positive impact on anyone whose path she crosses. I recall, with fondness, the first interactions I had with Stephanie during her 1st term at IESE. She arrived on campus with an intense desire to be part of the IESE community and subconsciously to leave her mark. The first impressions that one has of Stephanie is of a person who is self-confident, driven, humble, intelligent, energetic, engaging, happy and above all makes everyone around her at ease. Consequently, my expectations for Stephanie were set very high, as she exuded qualities of a natural leader.

During the 1st year Stephanie was actively involved in both the Tech and Fintech Clubs, becoming a first-year director in both clubs, culminating in her being elected the Tech club President. The ability to do so, whilst balancing the rigorous academic calendar that IESE has during the 1st year and the desire to spend every second with fellow classmates, underlines Stephanie’s motivation and dedication towards the goals she sets herself. When Stephanie was accepted into the Amazon Launch program for her summer internship, it was the result of months of hard work, commitment and professionalism, and staying true to her North Star.

Throughout the 2nd year, Stephanie played a pivotal role in defining the objectives and forming the strategies of the Tech club, empowering her leadership team to launch new initiatives focused on new skill developments, company engagements and relaunching the IESE Tech club treks to Amsterdam and Berlin. Furthermore, Stephanie took a prominent role in giving back to her fellow classmates helping and mentoring both 1st and 2nd year classmates interested in pursuing opportunities in Tech. It was a privilege to witness Stephanie´s personal and professional growth over the past two years, she is the embodiment of a leader who strives to have a deep, positive and lasting impact on people, companies and society.”

Benjamin Borngräber-Berthelsen
Tech & Start-Up Associate CDC Director


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