Octavio Sandoval- MIT (Sloan)
Describe a typical day as a MBA student
The beauty of MIT Sloan is that there is no typical day for Sloanies. One week, there is a flood of top fortune 500 companies on campus wooing students to consider their internship programs. The next week, I actively partake in some of the best student-led conferences in the world. Or, there is a weekend retreat organized by a student organization to visit Martha Vineyards. There was a time when my core team decided to take a spontaneous trip to Vegas. At MIT Sloan, FOMO is real because there are so many surreal events that it is impossible to attend all of them.
Where did you work before enrolling in business school?
Prior to MIT Sloan, I was an investment manager for Wells Fargo Private Bank, where I was responsible for making investment and asset allocation decisions for over $300 million of my clients’ assets. Prior to Wells Fargo, I was a capital markets analyst at JP Morgan Chase within its Fixed Income Division.
Why did you choose this business school?
Choosing a business school is like finding the right person for you. You just know. You just feel it in your heart and soul. When I first visited MIT Sloan, I instantly felt in love with the Sloanie culture. Words can’t bring justice to the description of the Sloanie culture. Sloanies are extremely smart and innovative but they are by far the most humble and collaborative people. My first visit turned into my second visit, which turned into a third visit. Each time I visited MIT Sloan, my love for the academic institution grew. I had to turn down several full scholarships to be at MIT Sloan, but I do not have any regrets.
What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school?
The business school application is a two-way street. As an aspirational MBA candidate, you will spend more money on business school than a typical down payment on mortgage. So, it is important to do due diligence on MIT Sloan. From my experience, my visits to MIT Sloan included classroom visits, conversations with at least 20 students, conversations with faculty and more importantly admissions. Keeping admissions in the loop is key. If admissions can put a face to the application, then you have an edge.
What is/was the most enjoyable part about business school?
Hands down, my cohort defined my business school experience. I just appreciate that everyone has unique backgrounds and offers unique perspectives on real-life situations that I have never even considered. My cohort is definitely my family for life. In fact, we all have a Whatsapp group so that we can constantly communicate with each other. Everyday there is active discussion in the group chat. After core semester, students are no longer in their respective cohorts. But, my cohort did a great job of attending monthly social events. This past semester, I surprisingly did not feel distant from my cohort. I can say with confidence that my cohort will have my back 10 years down the line.
What is/was the hardest part of business school?
What doesn’t kill you make you stronger. By design, the core semester is supposed to be the hardest part of MIT Sloan. Well, the designers of the core curriculum did not disappoint. Imagine having to take at least 6 courses your first semester in business school in addition to preparing for the recruiting season, which starts mid-september. I can easily describe my first semester as drinking water from a fire hose. But, I have no regrets about my first semester because I no longer have required classes.
Where will you be working after graduation?
I do not have a crystal ball, but I have the utmost confidence in MIT Sloan’s Career Development Office. I know that I will be at an organization that will give me enormous responsibilities that add significant value to the economy and more importantly society.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career or at your school?
I applied for the Cuba – Trinidad & Tobago study tour. As background information, each study tour at MIT Sloan takes on average 30 students. Because Cuba is such an exclusive island, over 120 Sloanies applied for the study tour. I was fortunate to get admitted. This is not I am proud. Prior to the excursion to Cuba and Trinidad, I learned from so many elite players in the behavioral science field from my MIT professor, Renee Gosline, to an actual member of Obama’s Behavioral Insights Team. I was then abled to apply what I learned in terms of behavioral science in power presentations to Cuba’s and Tirinidad’s respective key players. In fact, I still keep in contact with the folks from Trinidad and I will return to Trinidad in February to see whether progress has been made.
Favorite MBA Courses?
My favorite course is the practice of Private Equity funds. Phil Cooper teaches the course and he was the founder of the PE arm of Goldman Sachs. Phil does not teach from a textbook. He teaches from his heart, and everything is based on his experiences. It makes sense that he is a Sloan alum. Phil was never afraid to talk about his failures and more importantly what he learned from them. Furthermore, Phil uses his salary to take 10 different students from his class to a nice three-course dinner at a local steakhouse in Cambridge. My dinner with him lasted two and a half hours. Our conversations ranged from upbringings to ideas in social impacting investing. Phil makes it his business to be a mentor to all of his students. As a result, his course is my favorite.
Fun fact about yourself:
I practice bikram yoga on a weekly basis. Bikram Yoga classes run for 90 minutes and consist of 26 postures in a room heated to 104 degrees. I practice bikram yoga for reasons beyond improving my health. Always seeking a challenge, I am reminded whenever I practice that I can always improve.