Adriana Garcia Ceja
Home Region

Mexico City, Mexico

Undergrad Education

Columbia University

Previous Experience

IGNIA, Home Depot, Houlihan Lokey, Inc., Bank of America Merrill Lynch

HBS Activities

Student Association, Section D president; Women in Investing Club, director of private equity education; Latino Student Organization

““I had to push myself to be a leader among leaders.””

Adriana Garcia Ceja initially planned a career in international relations, following the inspiration of her mother, a diplomat in the Mexican consulate. But while attending Columbia University to study political science, she heard a presentation from a Latin American banker that changed her trajectory. “He spoke to everything I had been working for, what it takes to have an impact,” Adriana says. “I realized I could work with international business to develop economies.”

After a variety of work experiences involving finance, investment banking, retail, and VC, Adriana wanted “to acquire a broader business skill set. I was privy to a small subset of business, and there were other skills I need to learn: marketing, general management.”

Leadership in difficult times

“Because I sought specific skills I didn’t have as a liberal arts major,” says Adriana, “I initially thought that HBS wasn’t technical enough.” But after a few campus visits, she changed her mind.

“Everyone was remarkable – they all wanted to do something bigger than themselves. They seemed like people who wanted to lead while pushing others to succeed.” Even before she had submitted her application, HBS faculty eagerly talked to her. “I met a few professors at other schools; only the HBS professors were really willing to help me out, to talk to me about what I wanted to do with my life.”

“I recognized that HBS was most able to support my goals while allowing me to give back,” Adriana says. “I wanted to be part of an experience where community means more than just taking classes and getting a diploma.”

Putting her values into action, Adriana ran for and became president of Section D. “Running was in a way crazy; I had to push myself to be a leader among leaders. But I thought of it this way: if I wanted work on my leadership skills, what better way than being a leader at HBS?”

“Because of the section experience, my classroom became a community from day one,” says Adriana. “I want to be there for my section. The last two weeks [Coronavirus pandemic] have demonstrated that even as the world has turned upside-down, my section has been patient and supportive of each other. We’re all very driven people, but we’re also here for each other.”

“The ‘golden triangle’ of an MBA is social, professional and academic. At HBS, the social aspect has proven to be so important. Section mates are volunteering locally, proving community is something more than a ‘network.’”

As Adriana makes plans for her future – “growing a business through operations and investments” – she reflects on the key leadership insight she has gained so far. “Humble inquiry,” Adriana says. “The importance of listening, being receptive – that’s my number one leadership takeaway.”