“You explore remote corners of the soul you didn’t reach in your work experience.”

To explain her unusual journey from Bulgaria to HBS with stops along the way in Nebraska, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Iva Teixeira simply says, “I make drastic moves to learn about myself.” That might be an understatement. Despite acceptance by a Bulgarian university in her hometown, she searched the web for an affordable college in the U.S. After earning a masters’ degree from the University of Michigan, instead of accepting an offer from Progressive Insurance, she took a more challenging job with Johnsonville Sausage in Sheboygan Falls, WI. “I started in a continuous improvement position,” Iva explains, “but over time, I created my own rotational program, doing everything from supply chain and human resources to financial analysis and new product development. In the end, I was very close to being an internal consulting analyst for the company.”

Learning through interaction

Midway through her first year at HBS, Iva is now a self-described “evangelist for the case study method” who talks to incoming students about its virtues. “It fits the way I solve problems, through interaction,” she says. “I thrive on dialog and discussion, on drawing out others’ thoughts, in order to arrive at the most satisfying answer. Through cases, you’re exposed to a wide range of industries and functional roles but you also learn something deeper: how would you react to these types of situations? You explore remote corners of the soul you didn’t reach in your work experience. At HBS, we’re climbing a very steep curve, not just in learning about business, but in learning about ourselves.”

HBS has also given Iva opportunities to put her education into practice. As an associate marketing director for the Women’s Student Association (WSA), she helped plan a conference that attracted more than 800 women to campus. “The panels and speakers change every year,” says Iva. “This year, we heard from the director of the baking division at General Mills, the CEO of lululemon athletica, and the CEO of The Limited. The experience is intended to inspire attendees to follow in the footsteps of remarkable women.”

Open to new experiences

This summer, Iva has an internship at Bain and Company in Boston where she will serve as a strategy consultant. Looking ahead to graduation, Iva insists she isn’t in a rush to define her ambition. “The more I consider how I can contribute to the world,” she says, “the better prepared I’ll be to make a meaningful difference.”