Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Ana Maria de Carvalho Pavanello, INSEAD

Ana Maria de Carvalho Pavanello


“I am an empathetic life explorer who grows through determination and fosters meaningful connections.”

Hometown: Vera Cruz, State of São Paulo, Brazil

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am the only person that I know who is allergic to bananas and watermelons.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Campinas – Brazil. Mechanical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: XP Inc, commercial specialist – McKinsey & Company secondment

INSEAD is one of the most culturally and professionally diverse MBA programs in the world. How do you see these global perspectives enhancing the value of your business education over the next year? I’m genuinely excited about INSEAD’s renowned diversity. This mix of cultures and backgrounds is like a treasure trove of insights. For me, “business education” goes beyond learning about industries, finance, markets, and business strategies; it’s about understanding different viewpoints, problem-solving approaches, and ways of working from a global perspective – and those things are maximized when you have diversity. This exposure will undoubtedly enrich me, making me a more adaptable, culturally aware, and effective professional. I will be equipped with an expansive global perspective that opens avenues to perceive and cultivate new opportunities.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of INSEAD’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Among the array of factors that drew me to INSEAD and beyond the influence of my classmates, it was the blend of two critical features – the school’s strategic location and its condensed one-year program – that cemented my decision.

As a first-time resident of a foreign land, it was important to me that I could maximize my contact with different countries to glean insights from diverse economies and societies, and subsequently weave these perspectives into my own. INSEAD’s multiple campuses and locations create an unparalleled platform for me to expand my horizons, forge global bonds, amplify my business acumen, and return to my home country as an enriched person.

Moreover, the one-year format was keen. This intensity not only fuels a dynamic learning experience but also aligns with my desire to capitalize on every available moment for growth and exploration. The timeline ensures that I can swiftly harness the skills, connections, and global insights INSEAD has to offer, all while minimizing the academic pause in my career trajectory.

What has been your first impression of the INSEAD MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best INSEAD story so far. Interestingly, my connection with a lot of INSEAD alumni at McKinsey & Company came into focus during my MBA application journey. In my opinion, I enjoyed working with INSEAD alumni because they can masterfully blend professional prowess with a welcoming, enjoyable atmosphere even in high-pressure situations.

As for the current students I’ve crossed paths with, I’m absolutely thrilled for my upcoming months at INSEAD. Universally inclusive, friendly, intelligent, and easygoing, they embody the essence of this community.

A standout moment for me perfectly captures the INSEAD spirit. Arriving early for INSEAD’s intensive language course, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and try a new thing by joining a kayaking trip suggested by our French teacher – despite my huge uneasiness around water.

Throughout the week, I told my friends about my discomfort and during the activity almost all of them kept checking how I was feeling. I was surprised, because I was expecting a caring attitude from them, but not at that level. This encapsulates the supportive and caring nature that defines the INSEAD experience.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at INSEAD? At INSEAD, there are several elements that ignite my excitement, but a few stand out as particularly captivating.

Firstly, I’m eagerly looking forward to the Negotiations class. Recognizing that negotiations are integral to our daily lives and hold immense significance in the professional sphere, I believe that honing these skills is paramount, especially as we advance in our careers. Negotiations not only mitigate conflicts but also foster enhanced relationships and value creation. The course’s reputation, coupled with the endorsements from alumni, highlights its effectiveness in equipping us to navigate diverse scenarios adeptly. The learnings will be an invaluable asset in my future endeavors.

Secondly, the entrepreneurship realm resonates deeply with my aspirations. Beyond the immersive treks to innovative hubs like Israel and Silicon Valley, the Corporate Entrepreneurship class particularly piques my interest. Its focus on navigating the complexities of launching new ventures within established organizations aligns seamlessly with my inclination towards innovation and creative problem-solving. Also, engaging with entrepreneurially-minded classmates and harnessing their insights are bound to foster an environment of dynamic learning and collaboration.

Lastly, the Personal Leadership Development Programme (PLDP) holds immense appeal for me. The opportunity to embark on a journey of self-discovery to amplify my self-awareness and fine-tune my leadership skills resonates profoundly with my growth-oriented mindset. Guided by expert career coaches, I anticipate this experience will empower me to become a more effective and authentic leader, ensuring that my journey at INSEAD culminates not only in academic growth but also in personal transformation.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I am most proud to have been a part of a Due Diligence at McKinsey & Company. It was such a challenging situation because of our deadline and the importance of the deal to our client. I led the footprint analysis of potential M&A, designed scenarios to understand competitive response, and accessed the full data from the target company, manipulating it for my team members, because of compliance agreements.

Among some of my most challenging tasks was the creation of a loop optimization exercise to predict the performance of the stores under new management, a process I had never done before. This effort led to uncovering synergies, shaping a successful acquisition. The client’s subsequent invitation to aid integration affirmed our impact.

As I said, this project was challenging in several dimensions, but by working step by step and managing my client’s expectations, I was able to deliver value to my client. Witnessing positive changes in both companies reaffirms my commitment to effecting meaningful change in the world.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? Upon graduation, I plan to return to Brazil and rejoin McKinsey & Company, where I aspire to lead teams and collaborate with adept professionals to serve clients. My focus will extend to engagements that contribute to broader societal impact, particularly aiding entrepreneurs in Brazil. Beyond this managerial phase, I aim to transition into a more proactive role, either founding my venture or joining a fledgling startup. My goal is to establish a forward-thinking company, cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit that makes a direct, positive difference in the lives of Brazilians.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to four MBA programs in the US: Kellogg, Chicago Booth, Berkeley, and UCLA. Initially, I leaned toward a 2-year program due to personal reasons. However, upon delving deeper into self-reflection and researching the schools, my conviction grew that INSEAD was the optimal fit for my aspirations.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into INSEAD’s MBA program? Persistence is paramount. Don’t let doubts deter you. I had some personal challenges like my GMAT grade, but do not lose focus in your goal.

Embrace authenticity in your essays. Don’t be afraid to put your heart and personality out. You need to show the school who you really are. Also, this is vital for your growth within the program and your future career.

Believe in the application process. The school you are admitted to will align with your aspirations. I’ve been impressed by the diverse, inclusive, and friendly community that INSEAD offers.


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