Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Andres Lara Oriani, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Andres Lara Oriani

University of Oxford, Saïd Business School

“Curious philomath. Impatient traveler. Hummus connoisseur. Friendly amigo. Social introvert. Architect personality. Purpose-driven strategist.”

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

Fun Fact About Yourself: Back in high school, my best friend and I were passionate about electronic music, and we taught ourselves how to DJ using nothing but YouTube tutorials. Before we knew it, we went from playing in our living rooms to spinning tunes in front of live audiences at nightclubs, parties, and even weddings! It was an incredible journey, and I will never forget the feeling of standing behind the decks, looking out at a sea of people dancing to the beats we were creating.

Undergraduate School and Major: Tecnológico de Monterrey (MEX), Business Administration.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Consultant, Deloitte Consulting

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Oxford Saïd’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? The University of Oxford is the place for people interested in Purposeful Business. Before the MBA, one of the initiatives I was part of at my previous job was to understand how a corporation could align its purpose to the SDGs while remaining profitable. It was a topic that I was deeply invested in, and I knew that I wanted to explore it further during my MBA.

As I delved into the world of Purposeful Business, I kept coming across the name Saïd Business School. From Colin Mayer’s renowned book Prosperity: Better Business Makes the Greater Good, to the Enacting Purpose Initiative led by Rupert Younger (and even Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth), all of the most influential thought leaders on the subject were connected to Saïd. It was clear to me that if I wanted to truly understand this topic, I needed to be at the University of Oxford and Saïd Business School. And that is exactly where I am today, sitting in the heart of action and learning from the best in the field.

What course, club, or activity has been your favorite part of the Oxford Saïd MBA experience? My favorite activity so far has been the seminar program the Effective Altruism Society offers. I know Effective Altruism (EA) does not sound that exciting, but trust me, this movement’s research and community are shaking things up and making a real difference in the world. EA started at the University of Oxford and aims to identify the world’s most pressing problems and the best solutions to them. Why has this been my favorite part? There are two reasons. First, I came to Oxford to expand my circle of knowledge – meaning I came here to learn “what I knew I don’t know”, but also to learn things “I didn’t know I don’t know”. This seminar has allowed me to engage in meaningful conversations with a group of bright students from across the university on topics such as effectiveness, existential threats, animal welfare, longtermism, and the risks of Artificial Intelligence.

Second, it has helped me challenge the way I think about “doing good”. Before, I thought that if a company just helped achieve one of the Sustainable Development Goals, they were doing their part. However, this seminar opened my eyes to the importance of prioritization. We only have so much time and resources and must focus on the most impactful solutions. It is all about finding those cost-effective ways to make a 10x or even 100x impact.

What is the most “Oxford” thing you have done so far as a full-time MBA student? Living at Oxford means being constantly transported to different time periods and even worlds of fantasy. Therefore, the most “Oxford thing” I have done is going to a place that looks and feels like one of my all-time favorite movies: Harry Potter. This happened at Christ Church’s college Christmas dinner. It is said that J.K Rowling got inspired by this location to create Harry Potter’s iconic dining hall. The only thing missing at this dinner were the floating candles. The food was delicious. The Christmas tree was magical. My favorite part of the night was that my good friend Arturo introduced me to a couple of members of the college who were studying fascinating subjects such as Astrophysics and Philosophy. All of this happened while wearing a black tie outfit on a very cold December night. Simply an unforgettable “Oxford thing”.

Oxford is known as a place where the world collides, be it in the classroom or the dining hall. What has been the most interesting interaction you’ve had so far as an Oxford MBA student? Oxford is a place like no other. It is a mix of ancient traditions and stunning architecture that has stood the test of time while being home to some of the most forward-thinking minds in their respective fields. That is Oxford. And let me tell you, the most mind-blowing experience I have had here so far was in one of the most legendary spots on campus: The Oxford Union.

This 200-year-old debating club is a magnet for the biggest names in the game. Every week, you will find Prime Ministers, Nobel Prize winners, YouTubers, and world-class athletes all making appearances. And in November, I had the honor of catching futurist Ray Kurzweil speak. As a huge fan of his work on Artificial Intelligence, longevity, Google, and the future in general, I couldn’t miss the opportunity. But here is where it gets interesting: the lecture was held in a small room for less than 30 people. Talk about an intimate experience.

For an hour-and-a-half, I got to pick Kurzweil’s brain, discussing the most important tech trends and how he sees the future with a hopeful lens. It was a moment I will never forget, and a prime example of the kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities Oxford offers.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Being admitted to Oxford is an achievement I feel really proud of. It is not just the prestige of the institution that makes it so special, but the struggles I overcame to get here. For several months, like most MBA applicants, I had exhausting early mornings spent trying to master the GMAT. On top of that, I was working on an incredibly demanding M&A project, planning my wedding, writing applications for business school, and trying to balance my personal life – all while coping with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as I look back on all the hard work and determination I put in, I am filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Because, as they say, the achievements we work the hardest for are the ones that bring us the greatest joy.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far. Getting to the semifinals of the All Innovate competition was a huge accomplishment for me and my team. We were a diverse group of MBA students with different backgrounds, united by a shared passion for entrepreneurship and a desire to make a real impact in the world.

Our business idea was truly unique and innovative, tackling the pressing issue of waste management in Mexico. We envisioned a subscriber-based company that would collect recyclable waste from households in Mexico’s largest cities and sell it to interested organizations. It was a challenging and ambitious project, but we were able to pull it off and make it to the semi-finals. The competition was intense, but we pitched our idea with confidence and conviction. It was an incredible experience that I will always remember, and I am so proud of what we achieved.

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? Getting imposter syndrome is quite common when coming to these kinds of programs. When you surround yourself with such smart people, with incredible backgrounds, in a university known for being the cradle of people who have totally changed the world, it is easy to fall into this problem.

Do I really have the skills to be here?

My biggest epiphany has been to understand what happens when you beat the impostor syndrome: a huge boost of confidence and self-esteem.

When you share your knowledge and experience with people you admire —whether that is in class or in a bar, and see that your thoughts are highly valued – you realize that your acceptance to this university was not a mistake by the admissions team. Instead, you discover that your learnings, challenges, and vision of the world are worth sharing and that owning them is the first step towards creating that impact you have been craving to have in the world.


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