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Founded in 1990, Apollo is one of the largest asset managers serving many of the world’s most prominent investors. Having worked in banking previously, joining the company was an easy decision for Maria Fernanda Yglesias, Northwestern Kellogg MBA ’21, when she was offered a full-time position. In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, Maria talks about how the MBA program at the Kellogg School of Management prepared her for the role at Apollo.

Maria Fernanda Yglesias, Northwestern Kellogg MBA ’21, Global Corporate Credit Associate, Healthcare, at Apollo

Age:  30
Hometown: San Jose, Costa Rica
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Bocconi University, Economics
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Kellogg School of Management, 2021, Managing Organizations
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Four years in Investment Banking
Post-MBA Work Experience: One year as an Investment Analyst 

Why did you choose to attend business school?
While I deeply enjoyed my pre-MBA role, I was looking to build out and reinforce a skillset, which I knew I would need for my long-term professional success and career progression.

I wanted to be in an environment where I could constantly be applying classroom learnings to my immediate environment. I was very focused on maximizing my contributions and experience within the student community through a variety of clubs, labs and extracurricular programs.

Why Northwestern Kellogg? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
As cliché as it sounds, it was all about the people. Kellogg stood out to me as a top choice because of its outstanding culture. Throughout the application process, I was consistently impressed by the openness of Kellogg students, professors and alumni; their willingness to help in every way they could; and their constant proactiveness. I was also deeply impressed by the variety of student interests and career paths chosen post-Kellogg. The campus visit was the cherry on top, as I don’t think anything can beat the Global Hub and its Lake Michigan views. This all made for a rich environment, which I knew I had to be a part of.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
I think my involvement with the Executive Boards of the Women’s Business Association, K-LatAm and the Infant Welfare Society of Evanston through Board Fellows gave me a taste of what it was like to run an organization in an extremely fluid environment (I stepped into all these roles right as COVID-19 hit). It taught me the power of clear communication, effective business strategy and true teamwork. My current role is extremely dynamic and because of it, my teammates and I heavily rely on each other for the team’s success. I also believe classes like “Selling Yourself and Your Ideas” have come in incredibly handy since much of my job depends on my ability to efficiently communicate. 

What was your internship during business school?  How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
During the summer, I interned with Apollo Global Management where I was a part of the first-ever MBA Associate class in the firm. I rotated through three different teams within the Global Corporate Credit group, and I got a chance to present a trade idea at the end of the summer. I had a fantastic experience with the team, and it was a no-brainer decision for me to join full-time after graduation.

During my MBA, I was also lucky enough to be able to intern at a Latin American fintech start-up, Kiru. I did my three-month internship with the Business Development team. However, it soon turned into a six-month internship after I was asked to stay on to continue working on a specific project. I really enjoyed the entrepreneurial aspect of the role and having the opportunity to work closely with people based all over the region. 

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I was looking for a company that replicated the important qualities I enjoyed within Kellogg’s community: entrepreneurial, collaborative, analytical and growth oriented. I found the work at Apollo incredibly stimulating, in addition to having all the specific qualities I was looking for. I was lucky enough to join the Healthcare team, a sector I had always had an interest in and was able to explore throughout Kellogg’s comprehensive curriculum.  

How has COVID–19 impacted your industry/career plans?
I was fortunate enough to be able to pursue my intended career plans despite the pandemic. While virtual, and now hybrid, work took some time to adjust to. However, I believe I was provided with the right set of tools for success.

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Explore roles you’ve always been interested in, but have hesitated to apply because you’re “not the right profile.” The breadth of options available, particularly to us international students, simply because of the MBA designation was impressive. 

–One thing you would change or do differently?
None. I feel that I left business school with an immensely enriching experience, and most importantly, a group of very close friends that have changed me forever. 

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
The process started and finished earlier than what I would have expected. Because I had prepared well in advance like a true nervous first-year recruiting, I was able to comfortably make application deadlines. I was also very happy to be able to decide my career path early on.  

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Pick two or three things you absolutely must do before you graduate. It’s easy to get swept away with the hundreds of options and forget what those bigger-picture priorities are when you have so much optionality. 

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Real Humans of Apollo: Maria Fernanda Yglesias, Northwestern Kellogg MBA ’21, Healthcare Credit Associate

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