Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Lais Giardullo Bernardes, IESE Business School

“Don’t let your life be barren. Be useful. Make your presence felt.”

Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil

Fun Fact About Yourself: I started the MBA six-months pregnant! In the end, I was glad that I was going to a school with strong values related to supporting families.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of São Paulo (USP), Computer Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Marae (Guilherme Leal’s Family office), Impact Investing Officer; McKinsey & Company, Business Analyst

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? Being obligated to put yourself in the shoes of the case’s main character makes you reflect deeply on the problem discussed and improve your decision-making skills, making you feel like you were really living the situation. Also, when you hear different views in class, you get a broad and richer perspective that no other method could give you.

What has been your favorite part of Barcelona so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? A beautiful city to live in, with an affordable lifestyle and a very active business environment!

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the IESE Business School MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I felt extremely connected with IESE. First, it was because of the leadership style that the school teaches – including the need to commit to leaving a positive and lasting impact on people, businesses, and society. Second, I chose IESE because of its focus on the discussion of the role of business in improving the world. Talking with IESE alumni, they stated how this drive permeates all classes and subjects, as it is part of IESE’s core, and not only in the sustainability-related classes. This was key to my decision as it related directly with my main objective with the MBA: intensify the impact of my career and improve Brazil’s reality through entrepreneurship.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at IESE? The Leadership classes were very insightful for me. It made me see leadership as an opportunity to serve others, with concrete cases. Classes were engaging and tackled current situations and innovative businesses. I have already been able to apply the concepts learnt in class and had positive results. I truly believe that, in the long term, this will have a major impact on my career.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While working as an impact investing officer, I developed a clear view of the Cocoa industry and the impact framework / theory of change to reduce poverty among cocoa producers – a major social problem in Brazil. This task was challenging as it involved a multi-disciplinary team and a complex issue. At the end, this effort lead to new business models and innovative solutions that will greatly impact the lives of Brazilian cocoa producers.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far:  Being able to give birth and take care of my baby daughter while learning and participating actively in classes!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the IESE MBA program? Have a clear view of how the MBA could help you to have a greater positive impact in the world. Also, be yourself, be honest! I see some people that try to be another person to have ‘the right fit’, but I highly believe that authenticity is the most valuable asset in your application.

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