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Real Humans of UVA Darden’s MBA Class of 2021

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Bruno Hashimoto Garcia, Darden’s MBA Class of 2021

Bruno Hashimoto Garcia, Darden’s MBA Class of 2021

Age: 30
Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil
Undergraduate Institution and Major: PUC-SP, Business Administration
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): While still in college, I began working in derivatives trading at a Spanish bank. After six years there, I decided to experience a real-economy company and joined an agribusiness firm to coordinate its hedging strategies and execution, which I did for the last 4.5 years.

Why business school? Why now?
Having to financially support my family early in life, my career kicked off prematurely and not as strategically thought-out as the overall situation implied sacrifices for the greater good. I got into banking by chance and it was a huge opportunity to grow, to understand how finance worked in real-life and, most importantly to figure out what I wanted to do professionally.

After six years working in financial services, a desire to be involved with a firm that produced goods that impacted people’s lives arose directly. After a long time trying to make the transition, I managed to switch to a sugar-and-ethanol producer.

Even though I’d changed industries and it played a truly meaningful role in making me a better professional, I saw myself walking into my 11th year in the financial markets within the same derivatives context I’d always been. The longer I stayed, the more difficult it would be to get out because of the very specific expertise of the job. I wanted to learn something new.

In order to leave the comfort zone and return to the growth trajectory, I realized that the best route was to take a 2-year break, reflect on the first decade I had spent working, develop my toolkit in a top MBA, and focus my recruiting efforts in a company that would help me in expanding my field of activity beyond financial markets and derivatives.

Why Darden? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Basically, Darden was the best choice for me for three main reasons:

  • Career: It is a school that is recognized by its General Management focus and that is exactly what my career was lacking so far. In addition, my main target companies heavily recruit there, making it an easy choice.
  • Academics: Darden really offers a unique learning experience. Before matriculating, I had the chance to watch a class in the school and I was really impressed by the quality of faculty leading the classroom discussion and the caliber of the student body during the class. The case method is truly a great tool in preparing future business leaders in the sense that we get to solve problems in several different perspectives that a traditional lecture-based class wouldn’t allow it to.
  • Community: It is perhaps cliché to say this, but the Darden network is really a family. Whenever I had a doubt or wanted to have more information about anything related to the school, I always found lots of people willing to talk to me. One great example of this happened in December 2018, just after I received the call from the admissions team. I wanted to talk to someone, and a recent graduate scheduled a call with me on December 28th in the middle of his vacation. It really showed me how this community works, and I wanted to not only be part of it but also give back.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
I would say that my life story is unique and being part of such a talented group of individuals at such a prestigious school isn’t a natural place for me. I got here because it really was the necessary tool to leverage the next career move I felt I needed to make. As such, I truly value the effort and the hard work everyone has put to be here. I hope I can actively contribute to my classroom and help in strengthening the school’s brand back in Brazil.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I couldn’t find the space to say that I am a ballet enthusiast. My wife is a professional ballet dancer and I will go to those presentations much more than an average citizen. I am so fortunate to have been able to see her in action in Paris last April and that was beautiful.

Post-MBA career interests?
I am looking forward to working in a management consulting firm to catch up on the long time I spent working in the financial markets. My goal is to ramp up my preparation towards becoming a business leader in the future, and the consulting industry would be highly helpful because of the variety of sectors and functions I could be involved with.

Advice to current prospective applicants:

–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
By far, my number one advice is to visit schools. Just by stepping foot on the campus, seeing students’ interactions, and watching the dynamics of a real class, one will surely feel whether that place is right for him/her or not. It is not cheap, but it is a very important project and it will be worth it.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would have begun writing my essays earlier. It is stressful when it gets closer to deadlines and you really need to have those stories ready and shining. The sooner, the better. You can think it through, seek feedback, and be ready to submit your best version when it’s due.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Certainly, the wait time after you hit “submit.” Following the updates on Clear Admit about students in any corner of the world receiving a call, trying to work in the meantime, and dealing with anxiety were so hard for me.

What is your initial impression of Darden’s students/culture/community?
I’ve been in Charlottesville for a month now and I couldn’t have been better. Since day one, I’ve had full support from the Darden people in setting up my apartment and learning how life works in the city. The incoming students have already participated in several activities at the school and the sense of community seems to be at its best in the Class of 2021.

One thing you have learned about Darden that has surprised you?
Faculty. The subject is not new, but it is absolutely impressive to see them in action. They will stimulate the classroom discussion, lead the direction of the conversation, and pay real close attention to every detail.

I was shocked by the Darden-Before-Darden program, which is a 7-day course prior to the start of the real MBA, when an accounting professor remembered a comment one student made the day before and not even the person recalled having said that. Amid the very intense class, it is so easy to forget some of the details, but they won’t.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am really looking forward to having the academics on track so that I can enjoy the social events that happen in the school as well as be totally ready for recruiting when that time comes.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am excited to get to the end of the first year, look back, and see how much I grew during this period. I have been here for only a month now and I feel I have already changed so much. I can’t wait to have the same reflection in June 2020.

Jonathan Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as Contributing Writer at MetroMBA and Contributing Editor at Clear Admit, he was also a co-founder of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.