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Real Humans of the Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024

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Macarena Ordonez, Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024

Age: 33
Hometown: Chile
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Industrial Engineering

Why did you make the decision to attend business School? Why now?
I decided to attend business school because my long term goal is to have a leadership position in the tech industry. I believe that the MBA is the right decision for me because I’ll receive a holistic education that will prepare me to become the kind of leader I want to be; effective in business and inspiring with people.

I’m convinced that now is the perfect time for me because in 2019 I made a pause in my professional career to make two personal dreams come true: become a mother and move to the US. During the time I was out of work, I could analyze my career goals from a different perspective and now I’m 100% sure of where I want to be in the next few years. Additionally, my daughter, Elena, is not a baby anymore so as a family we feel prepared to start this journey.

Why did you choose Chicago Booth? And What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Chicago Booth was my first option for many reasons. First, its community. While I was applying, I had the chance to talk to Boothies. The Chicago Booth community really stood out for me because all the members I talked to, or contacted me, were genuinely interested in helping me to make the best decision, no matter which it would be.

Another reason for my decision is that I feel that Booth culture is a good fit for me. On the one hand, I’m an engineer and I’m really interested in continuing developing my analytical skills. Booth will give me new tools to continue grounding my decisions in data. On the other hand, I’m a bold person. I always try to get myself out of my comfort zone and live new experiences. Boldness is one of the pillars of Booth’s profile, so I feel Booth is the right school for me.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I want to contribute with my empathy and sense of community. Becoming a mother away from my country has been one of the most transformative experiences I have lived. Now when I disagree with someone I don’t think that it is because they are wrong but that I don’t have enough information to understand their position. I’m confident that this new perspective will be helpful to generate constructive discussions with my classmates.

Additionally, as an international, my friends here in the US have become my family. I really want my classmates to feel that they can rely on me and that we’re a supportive community where everyone is welcome.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application: 
A fun fact about myself is that I’m a very direct person. For example, the first words I said to my husband when I first met him were: “Hi, I like you”. This feature can be a two-edge sword, at least that time my directness played in my favor.

Post-MBA career interests:
My goal is to be a project manager in a big tech company. I have years of experience in project management. During those years I’ve enjoyed working with people from diverse backgrounds and being challenged by new problems to solve.

I’m interested in going to the tech industry because I want to be part of new trends in technology that will change the world.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:

What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
There are four things that I’d do again:

First, I’d narrow my school options according to my profile and consider my family in that decision.

Second, I’d absolutely do a practice test every week simulating the time of GRE. Using that strategy helped me to learn to manage my time during the actual test. This is as important as the test contents.

Third, I’d ask my friends who did GRE or TOEFL for their advice. My friends gave me the most valuable advice to improve my scores in both tests.

Finally, I’d subscribe to the applicant lab again and ask my network for feedback on my essays. It was helpful to have different perspectives about my ideas.

What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I’d have done two things differently: First, I’d have done practice tests of GRE and GMAT before deciding which exam I was going to prepare for. Second, I’d have watched all the Magoosh videos for the quantitative section. I thought that there were some videos that wouldn’t be useful for me because I’m an engineer.  However, every trick or shortcut in the quantitative section makes the difference for a good score. Those two things would have saved me months of studying.

What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
If I could, I’d have skipped preparing for the GRE because it was hard and sometimes frustrating. When I started to prepare for my test, my husband shared with me the motto of his high school: “labor omnia vincit”. This means labor conquers all. When I felt that I couldn’t do it I repeated the phrase in my head and kept going.

What is your initial impression of the Chicago Booth students/culture/community?
My first impression was that the pay it forward culture is real. Every alumni or student I talked to, during my application or even this first days of orientation, were extremely helpful and they weren’t expecting something in return. 

What is one thing you have learned about Chicago Booth that has surprised you?
I have learned that freedom permeates all areas of our university, not just Booth’s curriculum. I’m glad that freedom is a core value in Booth because this value teaches us to live and work with people with diverse backgrounds or opinions, just like real world is.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m anxious about balancing my academics and family responsibilities. I’m a perfectionist and I feel that I’ll have to learn to prioritize because probably at some point it’ll not be possible for me to do everything that I’ll have to do paying attention to every detail.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year.
I’m very excited to resume my career and even more excited about going back to school. There are so many things that will be new for me and I’m happy to challenge myself in this new environment.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.