Posted on June 18, 2020

How Ross MBA helped this Career Switcher from Chile

Introduction: Pablo Troncoso, an industrial engineer by degree, worked in financial services before applying to business schools. He worked with MER for his application for Ross and was admitted with a 100% scholarship. He graduated from Ross last year. Ross MBA not only helped him switch careers from financial services to consulting but was also a life-altering experience in many other ways.


In his first interview with MER in 2018, Pablo had shared his background,  the challenges he faced during the process, his amazing first-year experiences at Ross, and his advice for the prospective applicants regarding the application process, goals, and MAP project.

Today, he has very kindly agreed to talk to us again.  Our conversation includes the following topics:

  1. His background- 00.37
  2. Second-year experiences at Ross- 02.40
  3. How Ross MBA helped his career switch from Finance to Consulting- 05.46
  4. Favorite thing about Ross- 09.28
  5. How two years at Ross shaped him as a person- 12.26
  6. What the classmates were surprised to know about him- 17.18
  7. Recruitment at Ross- 19.07
  8. Advice to incoming and prospective students- 23.58
  9. His perspective amid COVID-19 crisis- 26.32

And now presenting Pablo.......

Poonam: Welcome back, Pablo!  Thanks for taking the time to talk to us again. Congratulations on graduating from Ross!

Pablo:  Thank you.

Poonam: For those who have not seen your first interview, could you please tell them a little about yourself? Where are you from? What was your pre -MBA job? What do you do now?

Pablo: Sure. I graduated from Santiago, Chile, and I worked in Financial Services before the MBA. I started working in Financial Planning with a local Bank. Then I also worked with M&A regional local conglomerate in Chile. Before my MBA, I was thinking of making this transition from highly focused work in Finance to the broader consulting type of experience, and an MBA opened the doors to that path. Currently, I am working as a consultant at Bain & Company in Chile.

Poonam: How did the second year at Ross pan out for you? What stood out most for you in your second year?

Pablo: I will say that my second year was much better than the first. In the first year, you have to be able to manage the classes and get to know the people. At the same time, you need to be very focused on recruiting, which takes a lot of time, especially during the first two months of the MBA. So, when I came back from my summer to start the second year, I already had a full-time offer, which allowed me to allocate more time to taking exciting courses, meet my classmates and future colleagues. I also had more time to engage in activities that I was not able to in the first year. I remember that I participated in a private equity competition; it is a deal before industry experts. I also took exciting classes where we work with startups and help them get their first round of funding.  I took advantage of my time in my second year to get exposure to all those exciting experiences and things that I could not do before the MBA. My second year at Ross also gave me back some time for my family and me. My wife and I had a lot more time during the second year to travel in the USA, and it felt like a very interesting payback for the hard work and effort done in the first year.

Poonam: You worked in the financial services before the MBA and switched to management consulting. How did Ross MBA help you with this career switch? Could you please share your best experiences both in and outside of the classroom that helped shape your career?

Pablo: I think that Ross has a lot to offer to people like me who want to transition from Finance to Consulting.  I believe that the first and one of the essential attributes of Ross is the strong reputation it has in the Consulting industry. All the major consulting companies have a significant presence on the campus. All students are on that recruiting process.

Secondly, Ross has a robust career development office that provides personalized advice to every student about navigating the recruiting process and managing every single pinpoint during that process. For me, it went well to have a clear sense of what the process should look like and how to better prepare for that.

Third, the curriculum of the first year is well-crafted to equip students with the tool kit and the general knowledge that they need to be successful.  It provides a solid foundation on the general concepts that the students need to manage to be successful in the consulting role.

Finally, all of my classmates were very supportive during the process. It was helpful to have the support of classmates, chat with them, figure out their learnings and preparation, their interviews, and practice cases with them, especially with second-year MBA students. So, overall, their support helped me manage that process.

Poonam: What is your favorite thing about your program? In your last interview, you had said that experiential opportunities such MAP project resonated the most with you. How did MAP help you with securing an internship at Bain and Co? (9.29)

Pablo:  Overall, the MAP is the capstone experience of the MBA at Ross. MAP was a fantastic experience for me. Just to share a little bit with you, I spent summer weeks in Shanghai, China, where I worked with a Tech company, which was founded by a Ross alum. My team and I helped them solve one of the problems they had. I got to consult for them, and that happened before I went to my summer internship. The experience helped me understand what a consulting type of job looks like in real life, and it definitely played out afterward with my summer internship with Bain & Co and later helped me secure a full-time offer with the company. Overall, traveling to a new country, training, external exposure, and working with a very diverse group of people from my class was an excellent experience.

Poonam:  Of course, interacting with people of diverse nationalities and industries must have been an excellent experience.

Pablo: Yes, this is an excellent perk of MBA in general, and specifically of MAP project.

Poonam:  Great! I am so glad that it worked well for you. I have heard from clients that the MBA is a life-altering experience. In what ways the two years at Ross shaped you as a person? We know it worked so well for you from the standpoint of your professional career and your short-term goals. I am curious to know in what ways the Ross MBA shaped you as a person.

Pablo: I agree with that statement. MBA is a life-altering experience for pretty much everybody, and it was in my case as well. I think one part of that is having the experience of living in a different country. I had never lived in a different country before, so it was great to spend two years of my life in the US and see how things work there, how the companies run their businesses and treat their customers. It is also an exciting experience from the perspective of culture and sometimes embarrassing as well because of cultural differences.  So, I will say that in my previous experience in Chile, I worked with people that were not as vigorous as I found in Business school. They managed to create an amazingly energetic environment in the class. I got to work with people coming from entirely different backgrounds than mine. I worked with people who were medical doctors, lawyers, people from all kinds of different backgrounds. And having that experience of working with such diverse backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities re-shaped my personality and the way I work now with teams and clients. So the exposure opened my eyes to become better at collaborating with different people, to be mindful of the differences the people may have, and to take advantage of that. This learning has helped me get better results with the clients with my current job.  So Ross MBA has definitely been a life-altering experience, personally and professionally.

Poonam:  Of course, that is fantastic. You brought back that international perspective to Santiago.

Pablo: Exactly. Also, during the process, I got to interact with so many companies. Although they are huge, a lot of them do not have a massive presence in my country, Chile, e.g., companies like Amazon and industrial companies like Cargill, etc. I was able to visit a lot of companies in person to see what they do, and having that experience is also, in a way, a life-changing experience.

Poonam:  Awesome. What do you think your classmates were surprised to know about you?

Pablo: They were always interested in me when they came to know that I am from Chile. It is a small country in Latin America. They were not very likely to find someone from Chile to go to the US for an MBA. I met a lot of people who have traveled to Chile because there are many touristic places here. Other people had been on religious missions or for several different reasons.  We had conversations about life in Chile, its exciting place to visit, its culture, and how it is different from other countries in Latin America, the USA, and Europe. They were always curious to hear about that.

Poonam: Of course. Can you tell us something about recruitment at Ross?

Pablo: I think that the recruitment process at Ross is highly structured, and there is a career development office that is working behind curtains and making sure that everything runs smoothly for every single student. I feel people at the career development office are like angels helping you take the right step at every single point in the process. They also schedule many opportunities to interact with companies in person on campus. They run corporate presentations and coffee chat with companies and make sure that you have plenty of opportunities to network with as many companies as you may need. They also give you plenty of resources to learn how the process works and how to better prepare for the job you are looking for. They come to the classes, organize special sessions to help you learn how to prepare for your summer internship and a full-time job as well. So, overall, it is a complete package of resources provided to every student that helps the students to go through the process smoothly.

Poonam:  Good to know that. How early the recruitment process starts?

Pablo: That is a good question. From my experience, for most people, the recruitment process starts at the very beginning of the MBA. For me, the semester began in September, and in the very first weeks, I was already recruiting with companies and attending consulting club meetings, which is another resource. The consulting club runs weekly sessions with the people interested in that career path to make sure that we manage every single detail about the process, and that starts from the very beginning. So everybody must be aware of that. I would recommend to every student to land their MBA with the idea in mind that they need to be ready for recruiting from the very beginning of the MBA.

Poonam: Can you share some advice with incoming students to help make their Ross experience more rewarding?

Pablo: Looking back, I think it helps to be strategic about your priorities. My advice to the incoming students is to set clear goals, in terms of the desired outcomes after their MBA, the type of full-time job they want to get, and the type of relationships that they want to gain during your MBA. It is a very diverse curriculum with so many things to offer, so it is vital to be articulate about goals, be strategic, prioritize your time, and choose your battles. So, once you are done with your MBA, you will feel that you have done everything that you wanted to do and have maximized your overall experience of the MBA. In my case, I got this advice from other students before I started my MBA. So this is just one humble advice that I would like to pass on to future students as well.

Poonam: Indeed, this is valuable advice. Is there anything that I have not asked, and you would have liked to share?

Pablo: We are indeed facing some challenging times because of this pandemic, which has turned the whole world upside down. So, I think people might be questioning themselves, whether it is an excellent time to pursue an MBA or not. I did not have that challenge when I decided to do my MBA. However, I think that this pandemic shall be over probably sooner than later, and the earlier you earn the MBA, the better it is for you. I made this decision a little later in my career, and if there is something I would like to change about my MBA experience, I would want to do my MBA a little earlier because  I feel it is an opportunity that you should not wait too long. It is a life-changing experience, something you want to have sooner rather than later in your life. This pandemic is going to over at some point, but the value of the MBA and the experience of working with so many people you meet during the MBA is going to stay with you lifelong.

Poonam:  I agree with you, and when they will come out with their MBA degrees after two years, they will be well equipped to face the new challenges. Thank you for your valuable insights. I enjoyed catching up with you after two years. Good luck with your personal & professional dreams. Stay safe and healthy.

You can connect with Pablo via LinkedIn.

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