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Valerie Aguiar

Degree:

MBA

Location:

Canada

Industry:

Fast Moving Consumer Goods

Year:

2018-19

By Valerie Aguiar

Get to know Valerie Aguiar

Q1. In one word, how would your best friend describe you, and how would you manager describe you?

Best friend: Genuine
Manager: Organized

Q2. Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to Oxford.

I’m a marketing professional from Canada captivated by the role of business in addressing the root causes of poverty. I’ve worked in sales and marketing at Nestlé Canada, all the while, volunteering in Toronto with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and Toronto+Acumen to learn more about international development. In 2015, I took a leave from Nestle to join the EWB Long-term Fellowship program in Zambia.

In Lusaka, I scaled marketing solutions and implemented gender sensitization prototypes for a for-profit social enterprise called Rent to Own, whose primary focus is providing financing, equipment, and training to rural micro-entrepreneurs. The Fellowship taught me about systems change and navigating the ambiguity that comes with entrepreneurial ventures. After the Fellowship, I returned to Canada joining Nestlé’s Confectionery division where I developed the team’s first eCommerce strategy, supported the launch of Unwrap Some Good, a sustainable cocoa communications campaign, and launched new brands and formats in the Canadian market.

I wanted to complete an MBA to challenge myself and gain international experience. Oxford Saïd’s focus on social impact and strength in entrepreneurship caught my attention. After speaking with alumni from a range of programmes, Oxford just felt like the right place for me to build my capabilities and work towards my long-term goals.

Q3. What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?

Before the MBA, I focused on getting clear on my goals for the program and organising myself. This involved reading through job profiles to identify skills for development, meeting with industry professionals, and doing a little soul searching with the help of a great book called, “Designing Your Life”. I also created a project list outlining administrative tasks and upcoming deadlines to stay organised and ensure I didn’t miss anything.

Q4. What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?

I hope to use the year to reflect on my professional goals, deepen my understanding of complex business environments, and learn from a community of business leaders committed to creating meaningful change.

Q5. What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA?

The best advice I received was to really take the time to get to know your classmates and to embrace the experience. I reached out to classmates via Telegram to meet in Toronto and also managed to meet classmates whilst travelling in the UK, USA and Singapore.

Q6. What part of the programme are you most looking forward to?

I’ve heard great things about the entrepreneurship integrative module, so I’m excited to get started!

Q7. What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?

The hardest part of the MBA seems to be managing your time and energy so that you’re not spread too thin. There are so many activities at Oxford, so staying focused and getting comfortable with NOT doing something will be tough, but important during the programme.

Q8. How do you plan to take the learnings from the MBA to influence positive change?

This is the golden question! I see the MBA as an opportunity to get comfortable in uncomfortable scenarios, such as experimenting with new functions, industries, or ways of working. The MBA provides the tools to navigate through all sorts of problems and I hope to use these tools post-MBA, regardless of where I end up, to advocate for positive change.

Q9. Are there any sport teams, societies, or clubs you’re hoping to become a member of?

I’m interested in joining the Oxford Mountaineering Club, Social Impact OBN, and maybe attending a few training sessions with the Oxford University Triathlon Club.

Q10. Lastly, what’s your favourite hashtag?

I follow #socent on Twitter to stay up to date on news within the social enterprise space.

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