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Real Humans of HEC Paris’s MBA Class of 2021

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Maria Jose Olivo, HEC Paris MBA Class of 2021

Maria Jose Olivo, HEC Paris MBA Class of 2021

Age: 29
Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Undergraduate Institution and Major: The University of Birmingham, United Kingdom / International Relations BA
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 7 years / Pharma/Biotech Industry

Why business school?
I have no academic background in business and I also want to work in Europe, so an MBA seemed like the perfect stepping stone to those goals.

Why now?
I now have enough work experience to be sure of my professional goals, yet I am still young enough with few personal commitments, which allows for flexibility of time and mobility. There will not be a better time to make such a life-changing decision than now.

Why HEC Paris? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I was French-schooled my entire life and went to school in the United Kingdom, so I have very strong ties to the European region and would love to stay here permanently. Attending arguably the best and most diverse MBA program in Europe, and maybe the world, seemed like the most sensible decision to achieve that.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
I am the second Dominican to attend the program, and the first Dominican woman to do so – that alone I believe contributes to the diversity of perspectives students bring to the table.

Post-MBA career interests?
My only experience thus far is in Business Development, Marketing, and Sales in the Pharma and Biotech Industries, including the co-founding of a Biotech start-up back home. I would like to stay in Business Development and Marketing, but would love to be able to explore other industries.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would definitely make the effort again to have a 1-on-1 meeting with an HEC Paris representative before deciding to apply. I was sure 10 minutes into the meeting this was the school I wanted to attend. It saved me the time and struggle of having to apply anywhere else!

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I shouldn’t have felt nervous before my interviews! Both my interviewers were very candid and nice alumni that were only trying to get to know who I was a little bit better.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GMAT!!!!! It was a very long and painful process to prepare for it alongside work and life commitments. I tried to exercise often, sleep well and maintain a healthy lifestyle to put up with the pressure, which you will definitely feel as your test day approaches!

What is your initial impression of HEC Paris’s students/culture/community?
So far, everything about HEC Paris is LEGEN-wait for it-DARY…Legendary! (as Barney from How I Met Your Mother would put it). Joking aside, every single person I have met so far—students and faculty—are incredibly smart. More importantly, they are very open to socialize and share their knowledge, experiences, cultures, and opinions. It truly feels like a very tight community. Camaraderie and cooperation are at the center of the HEC Paris culture. From day one, you feel like you belong to something really special.

One thing you have learned about HEC Paris that has surprised you?
I did not know HEC Paris was the school so many Fortune 500 CEOs attended!

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am a bit anxious about the finance classes coming up since I have no experience in the field.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am extremely excited about everything we are going to learn in the first two terms and about getting to know my classmates and professors better. As I said, everyone seems incredible!

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.