Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Paulina Godoy, IMD Business School

Paulina Godoy

IMD Business School

“A life-long explorer in constant pursuit of personal growth, life balance and new horizons.”

Hometown: Guatemala City, Guatemala

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have never liked chocolate. I hope a few more years in Switzerland will convince me, so people stop looking at me as if I’m a weird creature. I get it, though.

Undergraduate School and Major: Universidad de Ciencias Empresariales y Socials – BBA

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: AmazonVendor Manager, UK Grocery

What has been the best part of being in a small class with this group of classmates, known for their talent and versatility? The best part of being in a small cohort is the opportunity to share your time with everyone. We work in groups that change every module, allowing us to constantly work with different people and learn from their past experience. This gives us space to explore different views and working or leadership styles. We try to have lunch together as often as possible between classes, and most of us extend lunchtime by having a coffee at the school cafeteria or on the terrace. Outside of IMD, we are always making plans to spend time together.

Aside from classmates, what part of IMD’s MBA programming led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I chose IMD because of its leadership development focus and its close-knit community. You hear these things before you join, and I guarantee they are incredibly true! The last six months have been quite a transformational leadership journey for me as a professional and more importantly, as a person. As a class, we are all going through a powerful experience and in addition, it is crazy to see how engaging alumni are with us, likely because the journey was just as memorable for them too.

IMD is known for academic rigor. What is one strategy you used that would help a future IMD MBA better adapt to the workload early on? I am one of a handful living outside Lausanne and the one living the furthest away. I spend over two hours on the train daily, including at weekends, when I do the Personal Development Elective (PDE), an elective that gives you access to a personal psychoanalyst and takes you through a deep self-exploration journey throughout the year.

The main strategy for me, from day one, was time management. I always plan my week ahead, organizing what readings I do on the train, what assignments I do in the library upon my early arrival at school (because being late is not an option), and how I spend the lunch break. Part of this skill also requires prioritising, accepting that I cannot do it all, taking time to reflect after long days (usually on the train back home) and never compromising my hours of sleep.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest career accomplishment has been growing professionally in the fascinating retail and consumer goods industry across household brands like Unilever and Amazon. In particular, during my time at Amazon, I grew the confectionery category and developed the baby food category by building long-term joint business plans with top worldwide grocery brands. Building relationships with customers and partners has been one of the most rewarding parts of my job. If I had to pick my biggest professional reward, it would be the daily exposure to cultures from all over the world, a priceless gift which would have been difficult to experience if I had decided to stay in my comfort zone more than 12 years ago.

Describe your biggest accomplishment at IMD so far: My biggest accomplishment at IMD so far has been to learn to enjoy the present, without obsessing over the future. I always dreamed of doing an MBA, and it was not an easy ride to get here. Before starting the program, I promised myself to enjoy every moment of the ride, even with its ups-and-downs and without fast-forwarding!

The leadership stream at IMD has played a huge role in helping me to take a different approach to situations that I previously found stressful. Interestingly, a few friends mentioned that they perceived me as much more present during the summer break. Observing a change in myself is gratifying, but hearing it from others is also encouraging. There will surely be situations in the future where maintaining this mindset won’t be easy. However, I am confident that the awareness I’ve built and the tools I’ve learned over the last six months will help me navigate them.

Where is your favorite hang-out in Lausanne? Why do you (and your classmates) gravitate there? Our favorite place to hang out in Lausanne is Lacustre, a restaurant bar just a few minutes from IMD with an amazing terrace and view of Lac Leman. We’ve had fun at this bar from day one and always go there after long days at school! Lacustre has amazing pizzas, and it’s one of the few places in Switzerland where they know how to serve a Guinness properly.

What do you hope to do after graduation? My husband and I relocated from London to Geneva in 2022 to take both of our professional careers to the next level, and we hope to stay in the area for a while. I am exploring the luxury, healthcare, and tech industries, focusing on commercial strategy roles. After graduation, I want to join a company in one of these sectors where I can continue developing my business acumen and grow into a leadership role where I can nurture the skills of others and become a leader multiplier.

What has been your best memory at IMD thus far? My best memory from the first six months at IMD was when my group and I stepped out of the auditorium after presenting our start-up project. We worked with a healthcare startup for over three months and were the first group to present our project to a challenging Venture Capital panel. I remember vividly the feeling I had when we all looked at one another and agreed on how good our presentation was. We talked and walked to the IMD cafeteria and enjoyed the first milestone of our MBA journey. It was a special day!

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