2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Natalia Pecora, Purdue University (Krannert)

Natalia Pecora

Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management

Age: 39

“Driven, not defined by my successes or failures, but the conviction to constantly learn and challenge the status quo.”

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Family Members: Spouse

Fun fact about yourself: I can dance samba.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Business Administration and Finance School: University of Saint Thomas, Houston TX

Graduate Degree: Executive MBA School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Where are you currently working?

Company: Flowserve, machinery industrial company

Role: Director of Global Supply Chain (just recently) Prior Role: Executive Director, Materials & Planning

Company: Baker Hughes, oil & Gas industry (12 years)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

Degree Honors: Magna Cum Laude Degree: Bachelor of Business Administration and Finance School: University of Saint Thomas Houston, Texas

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During the last semester of undergrad school, I was selected to fill one of the two openings offered in a highly competitive internship program in the oil and gas industry. Despite being a program intended for graduate students, the leading professor extended me the opportunity, and I took the challenge. Shortly after, my performance in this internship led to my selection into the leadership rotational program that became a dynamic career journey.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was when I received feedback from my direct report team on the impact that our interactions have made on their development, career progression, and motivation levels. When transitioning companies, one rewarding experience that stands out to me was hearing my coworkers’ feedback, from multiple levels in the organization, expressing their perspectives on the strength of the relationships built and the impact made, was one of my proudest achievements.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Thomas Eppel, I particularly liked his teaching methodology of using mathematical psychology in his risk management class balancing quantitative techniques and modeling with the psychological and behavior aspect to problem-solving and decision-making.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I started in the IMM EMBA program because of its distinguished international reach with business school partnerships in all four continents. The local and international immersion, prospects of company visits, cohort diversity of backgrounds, and cross-industry experience were all important aspects for me in my selection process. Additionally, I factored in the flexible of schedules, the combination of online and on-campus structure, and the possibility of transferring within their EMBA programs.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson learned was the impact that an effective organizational change management has in a company’s ability to work effectively, succeed, and grow. Considering the dynamic business environment, lectures, on managing change, transitions, and uncertainty, were great lessons that provided valuable insights, processes, and techniques that I often use as reference when leading people through change and uncertain times.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Ruthless prioritization was core to support my focus and dedication required to juggle work, life, and education commitments. While doing an executive MBA, most of my weekends and Friday nights were dedicated to schoolwork. At the end, a certain level of sacrifice was what made the accomplishment of the degree more meaningful, the prioritization forced me to focus on learning to be a better version of myself.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Take advantage of group interactions, the most valuable insights I learned during my executive MBA came from group discussions, case competition, and team activities. I learned to recognize the impact that multiple perspectives and inputs have on the quality of a final product.

I also advise students to live the EMBA experience to the fullest. With busy schedules, job requirements, family responsibilities, it is sometimes easy to get distracted, consumed, and stressed by external pressures. I would advise students to force themselves to be in the moment while in the program to focus and take full advantage to live the experience.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? If you have a full-time job that require a lot of your time, it does not make an executive MBA an impossible task. The flexibility of schedules, the different program structures, and the balance between online & on-campus classes are all options available to make this learning experience feasible while juggling other commitments.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I regret at times getting distracted by my job requirements and missing out on opportunities to engage in further activities to strengthen my relationship with my peers in class.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It would be Matthew Larabee for his dedication to accomplish his education, resilience to juggle work life balance while inspiring several members of our group to express themselves, and encouraging most of us in maximizing our potential.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? It would be to have an in-person approach to interact with the cohort, build relationships, engage in company visits, and group activities.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My career goal is to continue evolving into leadership roles that enable me to find meaning in the work I do and the contribution it is making. I was fortunate to have had a dynamic cross functional career progression of increasing responsibilities that helped me become a more well-rounded professional with strategic perspectives to build upon in my future endeavors.

What made Natalia such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“Natalia Pecora joined our EMBA program in 2017 and will graduate in the class of 2021. That is a longer time than most who will graduate this year but it also defines what was special about Natalia. Natalia was required to step out of the program twice and re-enter with a later cohort in order to complete the program. On both occasions increases in her responsibilities at work were the reason for the change in cohorts. From the very first module, I was impressed by Natalia’s passion for both her work and for the education she was receiving through the program. She was clearly not willing to compromise on either and was willing to delay the completion of the program to make the most of her learning. Although this required additional work and an extra residency or two along the way she had a very positive attitude and an enthusiasm to make it work. Her persistence, perseverance and determination through the process set her apart from all others. Another equally special quality of Natalia is her natural and easy manner in making friends in a new cohort and being accepted quickly. For most students, the need to re-integrate with a new cohort might have been more daunting, but she was able to become a part of the new group very quickly on each occasion. In an executive program where a critical advantage is the cohort experience and the network that you build, she was able to able to acquire the biggest network across three cohorts. It is appropriate that as she graduates, she will also take on a new and expanded role at work and bring to it her newly acquired knowledge along with her leadership skills.”

Professor David Schoorman
Associate Dean for Executive Education and Global Programs

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