Although Ann Lucena dual-majored in biology and Spanish at Stanford, it was her two undergraduate internships that set the direction of her future work. At ABC News, Ann "got to work on an hour-long special about the effects of negative stereotypes. "As a person from a Latino background with an interest in psychology, I thought it was a great way to educate an entire nation."
Driven by a desire to know "how a world-changing company does what it does," Ann took her second internship at Google, where she worked in the tech giant's human resources department. "A large part of the answer is the people the company brings in and the culture it creates," Ann says. "At Google you could see how much value they place on treating employees well. Creativity and risk-taking are not only valued, but encouraged."
After Stanford, Ann worked with Triage Consulting Group, a small consulting firm that helps hospitals negotiate with insurance companies. "It was eye-opening," she says. "I got an insider's perspective on how hospitals function, on how many moving parts there are."
At Triage, Ann realized "I had a lot of ambition and drive, but I needed business skills to reach my goals. With my biology and Spanish background, I didn't have the business education I wanted, the skills necessary for future success."
HBS stood out among Ann's options because "it offered such a great variety of focuses. I like the Initiatives they support in healthcare and entrepreneurship. The school provides opportunities that help students learn about new areas as they grow."
Most importantly, it's the classroom experience that stands out. "I expected I'd learn a lot from the faculty, but actually, I'm learning just as much from other students," Ann says. "Every day in class someone will say something that makes me stop and think. Many times the comments that make me pause are the most unexpected ones, the ideas in direct opposition to what I had thought."
"The process of debating and considering many viewpoints enriches my perspective," says Ann. "If I want to be a good leader, I have to consider all points of view, not just those I initially agree with."
Ann supplements her studies with her involvement in the Volunteer Consulting Organization where she is consulting with the American Society of Addiction Medicine. "I'm helping them create a business plan for software they'd like to launch. It's an exploratory project: Is it feasible? If so, what's the best way to proceed given their limitations in budget and manpower?"
The Turkey IXP gave her an additional opportunity to stretch. "I worked with a large retailer that wants to maximize the use of social media and customer relations systems to reach customers more effectively," Ann said. "We learned a lot about how business works in Turkey, and in turn, they learned from us about marketing and business practices across the globe."
This summer, Ann will take on investment banking with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York. After graduation? "I'm open to many possibilities," she says. "I'm really excited about making a positive impact in a place where I can best use my talents."