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Real Humans of Microsoft: Claudia Santa Cruz, Notre Dame Mendoza MBA ’21, Senior Sales Specialist

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If you’re looking to advance to the next stage in your career, pivot to a new industry, embrace new experiences, engage with new people, and refine your leadership style, how do you make it happen? For Claudia Santa Cruz, it was through an MBA program. Santa Cruz was drawn to Notre Dame Mendoza by its close-knit community and the school’s priorities of ethical leadership and social impact, which resonated with her values. In this installment of our Real Humans: Alumni series, we learn how Mendoza provided Santa Cruz the skillset she needed to transition to a new industry and become a better leader.

Claudia Santa Cruz, Notre Dame Mendoza MBA ’21, Senior Sales Specialist at Microsoft

Age: 34 
Hometown: Lima, Peru
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Universidad del Pacifico, Business Administration
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Mendoza College of Business, 2021, Strategy and Business Analytics
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Talent Development consultant, Excellia, worked there 7 years, multi-industry
Post-MBA Work Experience: Sr. Sales Specialist, Microsoft, 3 years, technology

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I felt fully prepared to make a substantial change in my personal and professional life. I wanted to advance to the next stage in my career by pivoting industries and roles, embrace new experiences by living in a new country and speaking another language, engage with new people with different backgrounds and interests, and refine my leadership style.

Why Mendoza? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
There were several reasons behind my decision to attend the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, with three in particular standing out:

(1.) I was drawn to the exceptional community fostered by the University of Notre Dame, renowned for its commitment to excellence and collaboration.

(2.) Mendoza’s statement of “Grow the good in business” resonated deeply with my personal values, reflecting a holistic approach to business that prioritizes ethical leadership and social impact.

(3.) The close-knit alumni network at Mendoza is known for fostering mentorship and collaboration among its members.

What about your Notre Dame MBA experience prepared you for your current career at Microsoft?
Currently, I hold the position of Sr. Sales Specialist within the Manufacturing organizational unit at Microsoft. Through my MBA experience, I’ve acquired invaluable skills in navigating ambiguity, leading with empathy across diverse scenarios, and cultivating robust professional relationships.

There’s no doubt that a key component of my MBA experience was serving as Vice President of the Technology and Business Analytics Club, in addition to my Search Fund role at the Idea Center. These roles significantly bolstered my confidence and instilled in me the courage to embrace new paths. 

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
One of my goals during my MBA journey was to transition my career into the tech industry. I was thrilled to discover that I had been chosen for an internship opportunity at Microsoft as a Sales Excellence Manager. This role provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the rapid pace and captivating nature of the tech industry. Following the enriching experience of my summer internship, I received a job offer to continue contributing to Microsoft’s innovative endeavors.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
My desire to work at Microsoft stemmed from multiple factors. Firstly, I had the privilege of connecting with several Notre Dame alumni who exemplified Microsoft’s collaborative and growth-oriented mindset. Secondly, and perhaps most significantly, I was drawn to the company’s robust diversity and inclusion practices, which foster a sense of belonging and community. This healthy environment not only promotes personal growth but also enables individuals to support others to achieve more. 

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
I would highly recommend exploring and studying the company through articles and videos. However, the most crucial step is to connect with individuals who currently work there. Engaging with employees firsthand will provide valuable insights into the company culture and help you determine if it aligns with your values and career aspirations.

–One thing you would change or do differently as part of the job search?
I would reconsider spending too much time reviewing my resume. In today’s dynamic world, resumes can evolve and improve over time.

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation to travel to Redmond, Washington. During my visit, besides the interview, the other applicants and myself enjoyed a company tour, and Microsoft generously provided us with the opportunity to explore Seattle. It was a really fun experience. 

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Take each day as it comes; searching for MBA internships can be a roller coaster of emotions. However, by adequately preparing yourself, you’ll be ready to succeed in future interviews.

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.