A matter of weeks before he starts the next leg of his life’s journey we caught up with Matias Bugada, an incoming student in Yale School of Management class of 2022.
Matias started with Santander in banking for three years before moving on to entrepreneurship, and eventually starting a business of his own and becoming CEO of another startup. He will now be moving on to business school to learn business intangibles, bolster his resume as he attempts to move to a bigger company, and grow his network. Check out the interview to find out how Matias conquered the GMAT, what set him apart in admissions, and the pros and cons of working at startups early in your career!
As someone who has worked at mostly startups so far in your career, what would you say are the pros and cons of working for startups, especially early in your career?
In my case everything was probably more extreme because it’s not like I worked for startups that have been in operation for a few years. In most of the cases these were startups I started myself, so that has a big impact on how you grow your entrepreneurial mindset, how you approach challenges, how you work in certain environments. That kind of experience can really help build your personal profile, and nowadays is something that many companies value. But on the other hand, you don’t have the professional development path, or the learning that you can get from a solid structured environment that comes with an established company. So you have to kind of develop a lot of people skills and leadership skills on your own, and you don’t have the knowledge of a proper company behind you. Also, being an entrepreneur and wanting to get back to working for an established company, even though companies say they want employees who have an entrepreneurial profile, it’s really hard, it’s not easy as an entrepreneur to get into the tech industry in general at a big company. I believe leveraging the learning experiences and the network of an MBA can help you get into a bigger company. A lot of people use an MBA to change industries or change jobs. In my case I didn’t want to leave the tech industry or even the position itself, because i’ll still be looking for a business position, but going from an entrepreneur to working in the industry is pretty hard to do unless you have a billion dollar startup, so getting an MBA can help you do that.
How does working at startups set you apart in admissions for business school?
First of all, it’s really hard to know why you got admitted, or why you got a certain scholarship, or what you did in your application that allowed you to get in. I do not have a typical MBA background; I do not come from consulting or investment banking. I did not have a direct boss or supervisor to ask for recommendations, so I had those kinds of challenges that I thought being different could have hurt me, but I think that it has actually helped me a lot. In the search for diversity, and people of different backgrounds that i’m convinced business schools want, I think it actually helped me, because it’s not that common. Now I’ve been talking to a lot of business school students. A lot of them want to go to the tech industry, but to be honest, most of them have not been an entrepreneur with a project running before their MBA. Then, of course, if you go to a Stanford, which is at the center of the tech world in San Francisco, there might be a lot more entrepreneur profiles, so I don’t know how I would have done in that case. But, in general, for any kind of MBA, I think that having a different kind of profile, if you back that with a solid essay or a solid GMAT, of course having an entrepreneurial profile is what they’re looking for.
What challenges did you face going through admissions, and how did you ultimately decide on Yale?
I had a few more challenges with admissions, which is more personal to my situation. I feel more comfortable taking exams like the GMAT. Going through the admissions process was more difficult for me. I needed more of the advice on, again, timeframes and the different steps you have to take, and the different documents or essays that you have to go through during the application process. When you’re working you don’t have a lot of time, so it’s important to just know exactly what you need to do next and how long it will take to go through each step. For example, you’ve written the essays, and you might think getting a recommendation is straightforward, but then there’s a lot of back and forth with your recommender and it takes a while to get it, and I ended up going right up until the last day before getting my recommendation submitted. There are details you need to know before starting. A lot of stuff you wouldn’t know before starting the process, which is where Merchant GMAT was able to help out a lot.
Another important thing is getting to understand your personal profile and goals to know what is the best school for you. And there are a lot of schools. Some parts you may be able to figure out yourself by doing some research and reading your typical blogs and school websites to see what the schools’ values are. Sometimes you aren’t sure what you need, what you want, what you’re looking for. In my personal case I really valued a collaborative environment, and the feeling that there would be a connection with the values that the school fostered, so I did look for that profile in the schools I applied to. I only applied to two schools, Kellogg and Yale, which I felt I would be quite comfortable as an MBA student at either of those schools. And then also depending on the industry you are recruiting for after an MBA, some schools might be a better fit for you, so in those cases the advisers at Merchant GMAT could help you figure out which schools will better fit your goals. In the end it’s about what you want, what you’re looking for, and what the different schools offer.
What were some of the challenges you faced while preparing for the GMAT?
It’s a long, time-consuming process, so you need to be aware of how you manage your time and how you structure your learning process. One of the main advantages of using the Merchant GMAT service is exactly that, they help you navigate the process, understand what is being asked, what you need to know, and where to focus on while studying and practicing for the exam. It can be a bit overwhelming, there are many different types of questions, so if you start on your own you can feel completely lost. So I think the main value added is understanding what is being asked, how to administer your time in the most efficient way possible, and how to deal with the many challenges, and with that in mind you can be a bit more relaxed while taking the exam, which is usually for the best.
I had a more analytical background so I didn’t need as much help on the quantitative side. Working with Merchant GMAT was essential on the verbal section. A friend of my brother asked me about the GMAT, and I gave some advice from my point of view on how to structure the learning process. If you study on your own you have to be really efficient and really conscious of how you are studying, and you need to learn how to study by yourself without much help. And if you do study on your own It can be easy to get to the exam room without feeling that confident, and confidence is very important.
Thanks, Matias. Are you looking forward to starting at Yale this fall?
Absolutely. I’m looking forward to trying the New Haven pizza!