Student Profiles: Nicola de Vera, MBA ’18

Nicola de Vera, MBA '18

Hometown: Manila, Philippines
Undergraduate School: Ateneo de Manila University

At Johnson, the skills you consider add-ons or by-the-ways may just be your greatest assets.

What did you do prior to coming to Cornell?

Prior to attending Johnson, I worked on brand-building initiatives and managed events for one of the largest super-regional shopping centers in Manila. I like to believe that the constant exposure to audience behavior and the diversity of thought acquired from working on a wide variety of live events have only reinforced my passion for stories and shared experiences.

What makes your program unique?

Collaborative learning is heavily integrated into both the curriculum and culture of Johnson. The program is intense and at times overwhelming, but I find comfort in knowing that I have genuinely supportive faculty, staff, and fellow MBAs as my most dependable resources.

My core team is one of my favorite examples of this. After spending the entire fall semester together, the five of us chose different immersions in the spring term. Despite having radically different schedules, we still made it a point to meet and work on practice exams for our remaining core courses together to ensure that everyone was on the same page. You don’t need to look hard to find this kind of commitment and generosity at Johnson; Sage Hall is brimming with student-initiated learning and community efforts every day.

What student groups, activities, or clubs are you part of?

This past year, I’ve had the amazing privilege of organizing REDtalks, which is an avenue for Johnson students to speak about their hobbies, passions, and experiences.

Johnson attracts a diverse and exceptional pool of individuals. I am constantly in awe of my peers and proud to be part of a platform that allows the Johnson community to learn more about each other’s personal stories and triumphs beyond the limits of coursework and recruiting events.

What has your trek experience been like?

It’s always been a dream to go to Latin America, so participating in the Colombia trek was one of the highlights of my first year. Ten days in Bogotá and Cartagena proved to be a ridiculously fun bonding experience for our group as we obsessed over the food, art, music, and energy that Colombia had to offer.

Aside from cultural immersion, another great thing about the trek was the opportunities it provided to help us understand local businesses through company visits and consulting projects for SMEs with our partners from Uniandes.

What is your favorite class or elective?

The strategic marketing immersion (SMI) gave me a newfound appreciation for marketing. There is an interplay between psychology and science needed for marketing analysis that I found fascinating, and Professor Manoj Thomas made sure we internalized this throughout the semester.

The consulting project also demonstrated Johnson’s signature performance-learning approach, as it offered the rigor and real-world experience needed to prepare us for our internships.

Lastly, I cannot speak of my immersion experience without mentioning my fantastic team. Working on case presentations and our consulting project while balancing other commitments demanded a lot from us, but we all brought our A-game every single time. It was challenging, humbling, and inspiring. I attribute many of my strides and fond memories of SMI to this incredibly talented group of individuals.

What is something you’ve learned about yourself from your experience at Johnson?

At Johnson, the skills you consider add-ons or by-the-ways may just be your greatest assets. Sometimes, we tend to home in on skills that MBAs are expected to have. Although leadership and technical strengths are invaluable, I learned to embrace and use creativity to my advantage, especially when structuring analyses and effectively visualizing and communicating insights and results.

What is the most memorable event or happening you’ve participated in?

This is probably a toss-up between Cornell Homecoming and Slope Day. I just think there is something special when the entire Big Red community comes together to celebrate in a festive environment. Plus, I get to see parts of this stunning campus that I don’t normally frequent, which is always cool.

How would you describe your dream job?

In the long term, I want to help advocacies that champion sustainable livelihood in my home country of the Philippines, specifically social enterprises and non-profit organizations that support and promote homegrown products and services.

I think there’s exciting potential in locally produced products, but current purchasing behaviors gravitate toward novel and foreign alternatives. I can imagine how fulfilling it would be to identify opportunities for disruption and make meaningful contributions to socially relevant businesses and causes.