The Leading Independent Resource for Top-tier MBA Candidates


Novartis, a global healthcare company that provides solutions to address the evolving needs of patients worldwide, has increasingly been in the spotlight as healthcare companies come together to combat Covid-19. As the company collaborates with key players involved in vaccine production — including Pfizer — Finance Development Program Associate Fernanda Carranza, Cornell Johnson MBA ‘19, has had to think fast on her feet and make strategic decisions, which has been easier thanks to her time at Cornell Johnson and her experience completing the Corporate Finance Immersion program.

Going beyond basic theory classes to offer hands-on experiences, The Corporate Finance Immersion program at Cornell provides coordinated coursework and a series of courses and practicum sessions to better prepare students for the workforce and helps them gain a competitive edge in the industry. 

In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, we see how Fernanda Carranza’s experience in Cornell Johnson’s CFI program helped her move to a more strategic side of finance to enter a new industry that is allowing her to experience many different functions and geographies. Read on to see how the Cornell MBA has helped to accelerate Fernanda’s career in an ever-critical field.  

Fernanda Carranza

Fernanda Carranza, Cornell Johnson ‘19, Finance Development Program Associate

Fernanda Carranza, Cornell Johnson ‘19, Finance Development Program Associate at Novartis

Age: 29

Hometown: San Jose, Costa Rica

Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Costa Rica: Business Administration

Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Cornell University, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management Class of 2019: Corporate Finance Immersion

Pre-MBA Work Experience: 3.5 years, financial operations; 1 year, volunteering through AIESEC

Why did you choose to attend business school? Prior to business school, I worked in financial operations at Procter & Gamble and was part of a high performing team leading the critical operations of business in North America and Costa Rica. I started as an analyst and over time took on a larger role coordinating with my team. I focused on delivering a seamless and transparent transition by creating great relationships with our customers and internal teams. I also worked on projects that increased simplification, automation, and optimized cash collection. I decided to pursue my MBA at Cornell Johnson to accelerate my career, increase my network and develop a wider set of skills that would set me up for success in the short and long term. 

Why Cornell Johnson? Which factors influenced your decision? I chose Cornell Johnson for several reasons. First, Johnson has a great track record of placing students in great positions after graduation. I knew that they would give me the tools, knowledge, and network to land the job I wanted. Second, I found it to have a strong academic curriculum that would prepare me to be a very well-rounded leader. It would not only help me build strong “hard skills” that would prepare me for my career, but I was sure it would also allow me to get have multiple opportunities to develop my leadership through experiences the treks, the Johnson Leadership Fellowship and the student led groups such as student council. Third, since my initial interactions with Cornell students and alumni, I could already tell how inclusive, supportive, and strong the Johnson community is. This is the kind of environment I knew I could thrive in and enjoy being a part of, and the tight-knit community of Johnson was a key factor that guided my decision.

What was your internship during business school?  How did that inform your post-MBA career choice? I completed my summer internship in finance in my current company, Novartis. I chose this internship because I wanted an opportunity to move to a more strategic side of finance, where I could act as a valuable business partner that helps drive critical business decisions. I was also attracted to the opportunity to learn about a new industry, especially in a company that is looking to reimagine medicine. 

Why did you choose to work for your current company? Which factors influenced your decision? I chose to join Novartis full time for multiple reasons. I had a great experience during my summer internship. From the start, I was given a challenging project that allowed me to make an impact and contribute to the team. I also knew that by joining the finance development program, I would have the opportunity to rotate among different functions and geographies. This has proven to be the case and I have worked in three different roles in finance and accounting and three different locations (New Jersey, Chicago and Basel, Switzerland). I also appreciated that Novartis has a team that supports my growth and personal development. It is a company that promotes a tremendous amount of learning. Overall Novartis, just like Cornell, is a great cultural fit for me. Besides moving to a more strategic side of the business and being in a fascinating industry, I also wanted to have experiences in different sides of the business in order to increase my knowledge and exposure. Other factors include: growth opportunities; international exposure; committed investment in career, training, a supportive culture; opportunities to contribute; reverse mentoring; experience to really learn; and working with top revenue drivers for the company.

How did your MBA experience prepare you for your current career? It prepared me in many ways, including: coaching; thinking fast on my feet; providing me with the ability to absorb a lot of information in a short period of time; improving my skills at networking and developing relationships; thinking strategically; and thinking in a structured way.

How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans? As a pharmaceutical company, we have been in the spotlight during the pandemic. Lots of collaboration was involved in producing vaccines for Pfizer. Thinking fast on our feet and being creative has produced even stronger partnerships with other business stakeholders.

What advice would you give to a current MBA student? Try to be as introspective as possible and think about how you want your life to look long-term, say in 5-10 years. Also consider all the potential ways to achieve and have an open mind and be authentic. It is also important to try out a lot of different things to escape your comfort zone; this is a super valuable opportunity to grow, find and develop yourself.


Learn about more business school alumni like Fernanda Carranza by exploring our Real Humans: Alumni series.

To see what current students from Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University are up to, visit their Real Humans: Students profiles.


No Companies Found

Real Humans of Novartis: Fernanda Carranza, Cornell Johnson ‘19, Finance Development Program Associate

Novartis, a global healthcare company that provides solutions to address the evolving needs of patients worldwide, has increasingly been in the spotlight as healthcare companies come together to comba

Real Humans of Johnson & Johnson: Heather Dyer, Harvard ‘17, Senior Product Manager, Robotics & Digital Solutions

After several years of supporting medical devices in the operating room, Heather Dyer learned first-hand the imperative role that technology plays in healthcare. More importantly, she learned how meti

Real Humans of Amgen: Angelinda Chen, Wharton ‘18, Global Marketing Manager, Oncology Pipeline

After walking away from Wharton’s prospective student presentation, Angelinda Chen immediately knew that the University of Pennsylvania’s business school could help translate her dreams into reali

Real Humans of Novartis: Gauri Korday, LBS ‘20, Associate, Finance Development Program

London Business School, the graduate business school of the University of London, is widely recognized for its international student body. Wanting to pivot both geographically and functionally, Mumbai

Real Humans of Johnson & Johnson: Joe Velli, NYU Stern ‘19, Associate Brand Manager, Listerine

Switching careers can be a challenging endeavor, but an MBA can help make the transition more seamless and open new doors at the same time.  In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, we hear from Joe V

Real Humans of Johnson & Johnson: Grace Babula, Northwestern Kellogg ‘19, MedTech Marketing

Johnson & Johnson is the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company. For over 130 years, J&J has developed medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and consumer packaged goods to adv

Real Humans of GSK: Carrie Salmon, NYU Stern ‘19, Associate Brand Manager, Sensodyne Franchise

GlaxoSmithKline, a science-led global company has a deep awareness of the role its products play to improve the lives of its consumers. Besides developing and producing vaccines and medicines for a wi

Real Humans of Deloitte: Sydnor Gammon, Duke Fuqua ’15, Manager of Healthcare Strategy

When thinking about a career in healthcare, the leading business school Duke Fuqua should spring to mind, as they consistently send the highest percentage of MBA grads into the field.  Deloitte, perh

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

MBA LiveWire

Accepted to IESE via email.
GMAT: 620. Brazil.
Accepted from Waitlist at Berkeley / Haas via phone.
GPA: 3.6.
Rejected from Waitlist at MIT Sloan via portal.
GPA: 3.8.
Rejected at USC / Marshall via portal.
GPA: 3.4. GMAT: 700.
Interview Invite to INSEAD via email.
GPA: 3.5. GMAT: 680. Italy.

MBA DecisionWire

Enrolled: UVA / Darden
Admitted: UVA / Darden
GPA: 3.67
Post-MBA Career: Consulting
Enrolled: UVA / Darden
Admitted: Duke / Fuqua, UVA / Darden
GPA: 3.6
Post-MBA Career: Technology
Enrolled: Georgetown / McDonough
Admitted: Georgetown / McDonough, UNC Kenan-Flagler, UT Austin / McCombs, Vanderbilt / Owen
GRE: 323 GPA: 3.2
Post-MBA Career: Consulting
Enrolled: U. Chicago Booth
Admitted: U. Chicago Booth, Cornell / Johnson, UT Austin / McCombs
GMAT: 750 GPA: 3.3
Post-MBA Career: Technology
Enrolled: Duke / Fuqua
Admitted: Cambridge / Judge, Duke / Fuqua, Indiana / Kelley, USC / Marshall, Other
GRE: 322
Post-MBA Career: Investment Banking

Join the Clear Admit community for free and conduct unlimited searches of MBA LiveWire, MBA DecisionWire, MBA ApplyWire and the Interview Archive. Register now and you’ll also get 10% off your entire first order.

Click here to register!

Already have an account? .

Log In

Please enter your Username and Password

Don’t have an account? Register for free