2021 Best & Shining Online MBAs: Yenny Andrade Castillo, University of Maryland (Smith)
“Passionate and motivated problem solver and always ready to collaborate and work with others as a team. “
Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia
Fun fact about yourself: I have always loved dancing, since when I was in my home country of Colombia, including in high school and university. I did salsa and folk dancing (Cumbia and Bambuco). More recently, and before the pandemic, I enjoyed Zumba classes which incorporated Latin, African and world music.
Undergraduate School and Diploma: University of Santiago de Cali – Chartered accountant; University of Valle – Finance Postgraduate
Where are you currently working? International Finance Corporation (IFC – member of the World Bank Group) as associate portfolio manager
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I was working for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia, I had the opportunity to work in a joint project with the World Bank to aggregate the financial statements of CIAT’s sister centers around the world. . As a result of this successful partnership, I received a job offer from the World Bank. So, I moved to the United States in 2012 as a program assistant at the World Bank. Working for the World Bank has been a rewarding experience. I have traveled on missions to the Philippines, Malaysia and South Africa, and have seen the development impact of the World Bank’s work to help the poor. At the same time, I progressed in my professional career, moving from an assistant position to that of associate portfolio manager in IFC’s Private Equity Funds unit.
Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose Maryland Smith because its graduates gain management skills and have a competitive advantage to advance in their careers. Part of the insight came from excellent recommendations from fellow program graduates. My admission advisor was also crucial in my decision, as he guided me and made the admission process smooth and efficient with the right requirements. Most importantly, I was drawn to the flexibility of the online program to allow me to work full time and study from home.
What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I enjoyed the interactions in the live sessions, as everyone in my cohort could participate. This included interesting and interactive breakout sessions where we could talk freely and get to know each other in real time.
WWhat has been the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was amazed at the high level of technology including a versatile computing platform and its “remote Smith office” in data modeling class. Also, in a data analysis course, I particularly enjoyed creating interactive charts with maps in the Tableau application. And another app, Canvas for remote syllabus and homework via laptop and mobile, was especially useful for staying on top of all class discussions and reminders.
How does your online experience compare to your classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I found a very different educational experience from my undergraduate experience until 1997 at the University of Santiago de Cali – moving from traditional classroom courses to online courses which I found much better and interesting. For example, the format’s live sessions challenge students to be uniquely prepared to contribute and engage in in-depth analysis of a particular case. This was particularly motivating for the post-session study to reinforce and put into practice the concepts learned.
What is your best advice to a candidate for success in an online MBA program? I have found it very helpful to prepare and maintain a weekly schedule or day to day homework roadmap. In addition, prioritizing time management is crucial in balancing study, work and family life. I found that devoting at least 2 hours a day to academic work allowed me to have considerable free time on Saturdays or Sundays – unless a special project required preparation on the weekends. Most importantly, the support I received from my husband, Jorge, and my family helped me navigate the intense work.
What would you change in an online MBA program? I would increase networking opportunities with MBA classmates from and outside the cohort through informal events outside of academic rigor. These events would increase team building skills and camaraderie among students. At the start of the MBA, we held a rally to celebrate the first semester, but during the COVID pandemic we no longer met in person. In these types of circumstances, virtual networking events can still be effective in getting to know your cohort and your career development advisors.
How has your online training helped you in your current job? My online education gave me new confidence and allowed me to ‘raise my hand’ and participate in more projects at work. I learned academic concepts such as business valuations which are particularly practical in the area of portfolio investing at IFC. I acquired essential soft skills in communication, leadership and teamwork. This allowed me to get a promotion from portfolio analyst to associate portfolio manager. Overall my online MBA has been a great experience as I have gained knowledge that will help me in my professional and personal life.
Number of hours per week devoted to the online MBA: 18 hours
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Lead and contribute to IFC-World Bank projects that have a positive impact on the lives of the poor in developing countries, especially in the Latin America region.
DON’T MISS: MEET THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST ONLINE MBA GRADUATES OF 2021