We’d like to introduce you to Hugo, a pharmacist from Spain who will be applying to top MBA programs in the U.S. in the fall of 2014. Read our interview with Hugo below, as well as his blog, Under Prescription: MBA & Pharmacy, to learn more about Hugo’s b-school adventure. Thank you Hugo for sharing your story with us!
Accepted: We'd like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite non-school book?
Hugo: I am from Bilbao, a mid-sized city in northern Spain, but I've lived in Madrid since I was 18. I moved in order to study Pharmacy at Complutense University, and remained here ever since.
It would be difficult for me to just name one favourite book. One of them would definitely be The Lord of The Rings, I am a big fan since I was 11. The others could be The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas-LLosa and 1984 by George Orwell.
Accepted: What is your current job (industry/function)? Do you plan on continuing in that field after you receive your MBA?
Hugo: I am a third year Resident Pharmaceutical Intern at one of the major hospitals in Spain, specializing in Hospital Pharmacy. After the MBA, I do want my career to remain related to the Healthcare field, because it has always been my passion, but I would like to have the opportunity to work one of the big pharmaceutical or biotechnological companies. Many of them have great Leadership Development Programs in which I am definitely interested.
Nevertheless, I cannot deny that, at some point, I would also like to start my own company. Although the latter is more of a long-term goal.
Accepted: What stage of the MBA application process are you up to at this point? What would you say has been your greatest challenge so far? How did you work to overcome that challenge?
Hugo: I am on a quite early stage of the process. I have already taken the GMAT and, currently I am preparing to take my TOEFL exam within the next month, and also doing some research about the schools. So I would say GMAT has been the hardest part so far.
In any case, I am aware that the biggest challenges are still ahead of me; first and foremost, writing the different sets of essays corresponding to each one of the schools I end up applying to. Therefore, I will start to prepare and write them as soon as I can, so I don't end up being rushed by a time constraint, and I am able to take my time and do a good job.
Accepted: Looks like you did great on your GMAT – 710 – congrats! Can you share a few tips with our readers?
Hugo: Thank you! I did very well and I am very happy with it, although I always have the feeling I could have done even better.
In my opinion, the first thing any potential test taker has to be clear about is the fact that you have to take it seriously and that it is an exam that will take a great amount of your free time to prepare, and even a bigger one if you want to get to 700. Besides, I believe that it helps when you like it, because it becomes easier for you to commit time to study and it requires a not-so-big effort on your part. I did like the exam, for me every question was a little challenge, and that motivated me to find the logic behind each one of them and always look for better way to solve them and do it faster.
I would also recommend rest properly. It is an exam that will definitely penalize the test taker if he shows up unprepared. In order to solve the questions, particularly when considering a high-difficulty level, you have to take into account very small details that are very easy to overlook if you are not focused. It is very obvious when you are tired, because you start rushing the answers and thus failing a far greater percentage of the questions you take than you usually do.
Accepted: Where are you applying? Why would you say you're drawn to the U.S. schools as opposed to ones closer to home?
Hugo: I am still deciding to which schools I am going to apply, although I am almost certain there are a few of them, such as Tuck, Stanford or Fuqua, that will make the final cut. In any case, I do know that location will not be a critical factor and that I prefer smaller classes and close communities.
My interest in attending a business school located in the US is based on several factors. First of all, most top European schools only offer one-year MBAs (I think IESE and LBS are the only ones to offer a two-year degree), and I believe a two-year program, summer-internship-opportunity included, better suits my career-changing plans. Besides, I have always been very attracted to the American culture, and since the MBA offers an opportunity for a unique and, in some aspects, potentially life-changing experience, I think I would make the most of it if I step out of my comfort-zone, and move to another continent, into a very different culture. If I stayed “at home”, so to speak, I would have the feeling that I am missing something.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? What have you gained from the blogging experience?
Hugo: I have always had the idea to create a blog, maybe about music or cinema, two of my biggest passions, but never really tried, until I discovered a blog by a recent MBA graduate where he shares his two year experience at Chicago Booth. That blogger provided a glimpse of what those two years could mean and while reading I realized that, in fact, this could be a great topic to write about: a Spanish pharmacist who wants to enter a top MBA program in the US.
At first, I had the intention for my blog to cover more diverse topics, but it has ended being an MBA-centric blog, at least for the time being. Nevertheless, now that I have started with the blogging, I plan to create another one, when I have the time, to write about my other interests.
What I have gained from it that I value the most is that it has helped me get in touch with other applicants, some of them also bloggers, who are in the same situation I am in: preparing to apply or just applied. This has allowed us to share our experiences, our thoughts on the application process or the schools, and to support each other through a very daunting process like this is. Most of them are in a more advanced stage of their way to get into a top MBA program, and thus I have been able to learn a lot from their personal stories that will help me when I apply next fall.
And that is what I want to achieve with my blog: to share my story and the information I gather with those considering the same path or who are in an earlier stage of the application process. Although, I appreciate anyone who takes the time to enter and read what I write, interested in doing an MBA himself or just curious.
I would also say that since, in order to being able to write and blog about every event I attend or every school I am considering, I have to do a little bit of deep thinking and soul searching, it will help me when I have to start with my essays.
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