Ana Caronia, 26, and her boyfriend, Nicolás Pustilnick, 27, are two of the five Argentines who managed to be accepted by the prestigious and select university of
Harvard, in the United States, to take a master's degree in Business Administration (MBA, for its syllables in English), in 2019. When they applied they thought that, perhaps, some could pass the admission tests. They did not imagine that they would be both.
“We were satisfied with being in the same city because we thought it would be difficult to be chosen by the same institution. Luckily, the best possible scenario was given,” says Caronia and says that with their partner they met when they worked in the same company, a multinational strategic consulting firm, almost four years ago.
From the capital of Corrientes he went to live in Buenos Aires after finishing school to study Economics at the Torcuato Di Tella University, just as his two older brothers had done. Pustilnick was also received at the same university, although as a lawyer.
Although Ana always knew that she wanted to study in one of the best universities in the world, in the course of the career that desire was postponed, since it prioritized having a great professional experience before emigrating. It was only in January 2018 when the application process to study in the United States began with your partner.
Nicolás, on the other hand, recognizes that once he finished his university career he planned to end his academic studies to devote himself full time to work and grow professionally.
“I never really enjoyed studying and that's why I doubted doing a master's degree. I began to change my mind when my brother and my bosses from the company where I worked, shared their experiences. Everyone had positive memories of their studies abroad. And speaking with graduates, I realized that Harvard was the place where I wanted to study, “he said.
The decision of the specialization he chose for him was something natural since, although he studied law, for years he has been engaged in business in the corporate world.
Application and selection
MBA There are two rounds of application: the first is in August and the second is in January. In each one it can be applied to the universities that the person wishes. In the case of Caronia and Pustilnick in August 2018 they applied to some but not to
Harvard since they considered that they had not finished perfecting their application.
Already in the first round the two were selected in the same prestigious American university, but they were for more and in January of the same year, already prepared, they applied to the one they really wanted. “In the second round, knowing the good result of the first, we were very selective. We decided to apply to very few universities, including Harvard,” says Pustilnick.
The results of standardized exams
GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test),
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), essays and letters of recommendation are some of the most important requirements that make up the application package that applicants send to the institution. “The heaviest part and what more preparation and consistency requires is the GMAT,” says Caronia.
After receiving thousands of applications from young people around the world, the university takes between five and six weeks to decide who invites an interview and who does not. The summoned ones have around 50% probability of being selected for the program. That is why the invitation to the interview is the most important filter of the process.
“If they invite you, you coordinate your date and place of interview. We choose to do them at the university. We travel to
BostonWe had the official interview with those in charge of the admissions process and we returned to Buenos Aires. From there, it takes another five to six weeks to finally decide who are officially accepted at
After that time comes
which, without doubt, is the most stressful moment of the whole process and is the mail with the link to the portal that contains the answer: either you are invited to participate in the MBA program or they thank you for the work done so far and wish you luck for the next. It is the moment in which all those who were interviewed find out, at the same time, the decision of the university.
Ana recalls that moment: “From the beginning you know the day and time that the university's decision will be available on an online portal. We were not in the same place at that time and I had not told anyone that day would receive the decision of
Harvard. That day I called my sister. It is a very emotional moment, which we will surely never forget. “
Classes began in August 2019 but they went a few days before to tour the university and furnish the apartment where they live, which is owned by Harvard and is on campus, almost 200 meters from where they take classes.
The first class began in an auditorium of the
Harvard Business School (HBS) with the 940 students of
MBA Class 2021. That day they showed the sections, groups of 94 people similar to the divisions that are made in the schools. Those 94 people will share all classes, at least the first year, and have a
Chair, a teacher dedicated to everyone adapting and having a good experience in their first year.
“The section is important because it is impossible to meet more than 900 people. It is with the people you are going to share the most,” says Ana. “Then in different activities you will meet more people but the section is one of your closest groups” .
Each section is designed so that the contribution of each of the 94 students can be maximized by the rest. “It is amazing how they assemble the sections. They ensure that they are as diverse as possible in terms of nationalities, professions and life experiences. A nice memory of the first year is when each student hangs the flag of their country in the classroom where we share all the classes. In each section there are usually more than 30 nationalities, “describes the young economist.
Unlike what happens in Argentina, all classes in
Harvard They have the modality of debate. And particularly the
MBA It was the first program in the world that incorporated this variant: the teacher only asks questions to moderate the discussion. Students raise their hands and each comment is being evaluated by the teacher, who has an assistant who takes note of each contribution.
The business case methodology consists of attending the class with the case read, studied and with the corresponding analysis, models and numbers.
In the class there are 94 people and the teacher knows about each student what country he is from, what university he went to, what he studied and what his professional life was like before starting the MBA. Different points of view are taken and heard, either because those involved have a different nationality or career.
Nicolás on the first day generated more anxiety than Ana. For more than five years he had not sat in a classroom with classmates to take a class and did not study either. “It seemed unreal to me that I was going to be away from professional activity for two years,” Nico said, adding that the first day was “defining” to realize if he would feel comfortable with the decision he had made. His doubts dissipated thanks to the initial speeches of the MBA director.
“Everyone was very aware of the fears, of the things that you were putting aside to be here. The first thing they tell you is:
Congratulations, we know the cost they are paying for being here. And more than the economic cost they refer to stopping your professional career for two years -when surely where you were doing it was going pretty well-, and to make the decision to pause everything and bet that the MBA was going to be a transformative experience. “
For Ana, her classmates have amazing life stories and they were both surprised that at the university they emphasized not only training you as a company leader but also as a person. “They make you continually reflect: what are you doing in your life, what marked you, what are you going to do in the future,” he says.
Nico adds, in the same direction: “They give you many instances and opportunities for you to talk in depth with your colleagues. They take advantage of the fact that they know that the people who are there have some issues in common but others very different.” And it is explained: “What the people of the program have in common is a lot of ambition, but beyond that, the profiles are the most diverse.”
The classes are attended by owners and children of owners and CEOs of large and influential companies from around the world and from more developed countries, to people who with enormous effort managed to access these classrooms. There are royalty students too, but they are not the majority.
Go back to Argentina?
Both agree that they would like to return, but they are not sure if in the short term since they consider attractive the possibility of working at least one time in the United States.
While Argentine customs such as going out with friends, roasts, having family close by and routine are missed, plans to return immediately after the MBA are almost ruled out.
But Ana is clear that she will return because she aspires to contribute to innovation in education in Argentina. “It's a subject that I'm passionate about,” he says and that's why he decided to be part of the HBS Education Club and regularly attend talks given at the
Harvard University education school which is crossing the river, on the other side of the Business School.
Who are the other three Argentines who do the MBA?
He is 28 years old and is from the City of Buenos Aires, from the Belgrano neighborhood. He studied industrial engineering in the
Technological Institute of Buenos Aires (ITBA). He worked during the last four years he was in Argentina in
AB InBev, world beer maker. First he was in the area of Marketing and Digital Innovation to
Patagonia beer and then led the creation of Blasfemia, the first canned wine from Argentina.
He decided that he wanted to do the MBA at Harvard in early 2018. From the first moment he was impressed by the campus facilities, the quality of the classes and the training of the teachers. In addition, in accordance with the experience of Ana and Nicolás, it seems to him that knowing the experiences of the partners is extremely enriching.
“It's a very diverse class, where everyone has a
background different according to their nationality, culture, previous studies and industry where they were working, “says Tomás a
THE NATION. As for returning to Argentina, he still has not decided.
Yago Zavalia Gahan
Yago is 30 years old, grew up in Pilar but went to school in San Isidro. Study
Mechanical Engineering at ITBA and made his career in
Techint. For his work, he lived eight months in
Before traveling to
Boston to study at HBS I worked in
Tesacom, the leading mobile satellite communications company in the region, turning the network of
Edesur, the distributor of electrical energy of Argentina, in an intelligent network.
As for the decision to make an MBA, Yago tells
THE NATION He always considered it as an option because he couldn't find a job that he loves. Although it cost him to leave his country, he describes the experience as incredible.
He acknowledges that as for his classmates he came to the university with prejudices: “I thought I was coming to an apparatus convention but the truth is that people are spectacular and I became excellent friends. People are the best of this place.”
He is 26 years old and is
Cordoba capital. He studied for accountant in the
Catholic University of Córdoba.
Before starting the MBA at Harvard he worked in
Arcor, Argentina's leading food company and the world's leading producer of hard candies, and in the financial company,
“I always wanted to make an experience abroad and return to the country with new ideas and a global vision of the problems facing the industry in Argentina,” he tells
As for the experience in
Harvard, for him it is “incredible”. “The professional and intellectual level is unique,” says Cordoba, the youngest Argentine in the
MBA Class 2021.
(tagsToTranslate) A couple (t) among the five Argentines studying an MBA at Harvard – LA NACION
Publicado en el diario La Nación