Tell us about your life before HBS.

I was born and raised in the suburbs of L.A. I grew up dancing at Guatemalan family parties, learning about leadership as the older sister to two younger brothers, and being my mom’s sales partner in elementary school as she sold Avon products. I wasn’t supposed to go to college because my family couldn’t afford it but thanks to QuestBridge, a non-profit that helps low-income high-achieving students attend the nation’s top schools, I received a full-ride scholarship to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. When I got there, I didn’t know what “finance” was, let alone “investment banking.” As a first-gen student I learned from my surroundings, figured out how to navigate the wild Wall Street recruiting process, and started my career as an investment banking analyst after graduation. I eventually decided to take a less common path and pivoted into strategy. That’s where it became painfully evident that in order to become the Latina executive I knew I wanted to be one day, I needed to own my voice. I needed to find a way to have comfort with raising my hand in meetings and respectfully disagreeing with others’ viewpoints. I needed to forever let go of “calladita te ves más bonita.

What is your favorite memory from HBS?

My community MyTake! Before HBS it was challenging for me to be totally authentic at school and work because I was afraid that people would “discover” that I was mistakenly admitted or hired. I hid my identity as a first-gen low-income student and professional. My EC (second) year I did one of the scariest things of my life: I shared with the whole HBS community my life story – pure, raw, and emotional (linked here). This experience unlocked in me a courage to bring authenticity to any space that I’m in going forward.

Tell us about your involvement with the Latino Student Organization.

I was VP of Community Engagement for the HBS Latino Student Organization (LASO) my RC (first) year and Co-President my EC (second) year. As Co-Presidents, one of our proudest accomplishments was creating an incredible community on campus, and that sense of community has extended into “alumnihood.” I’m happy to report that a few of us got together for a LASO alumni retreat in Austin this September! The LASO familia ties are strong and extend beyond just the two years on campus.

How has your MBA prepared you for your post-HBS career?

I’m currently a consultant and founder of Haz Ruido, a community and movement dedicated to elevating Latinx leadership in the US. I found my voice at HBS. The case method was instrumental for making this transformation happen and thanks to this newfound voice I’m ready to “hacer ruido” in whatever space I’m in, including the future boardroom.

What advice do you have for prospective MBA students?

Think about how you’ve been a mover and shaker in your life, not just at work but outside of work, and consider writing about that in your essay. My classmates were all so different, but the one unifying theme was that they were all movers and shakers in their unique way before HBS. Also, JUST APPLY. We are our own worst critic. Don’t let that stop you from applying. The worst-case scenario is they say no, the best-case…is life-changing!

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