2022 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Nancy Wild, Washington University (Olin)

Nancy Wild       

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

Age: 34

“I am a confident and courageous woman who rejoices in giving back and learning.”

Hometown: San Fernando, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Family Members: Husband (Luke Wild) and two daughters (Natalia – 5, Ana María – 3)

Fun fact about yourself: I didn’t know how to swim growing up. During COVID lockdown I was able to take swimming lessons and learn basic survival swimming skills. My husband loves water sports, and we decided to buy a boat in which he could do all these sports. If I was to drive this boat, it was time for me to learn how to swim.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from The University of Texas–Pan American

Where are you currently working? Accenture, Business Strategy Manager

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: While in business school, I have been an active member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and I am currently a mentor to engineering students (women). Also, I mentor engineering students and am a guest speaker at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (formerly University of Texas–Pan American). In both of these roles, I encourage women in engineering to continue to grow and use their skills to represent excellence within future companies they will work for.

FOCUS St. Louis – Emerging Leaders Program (Fall 2019)

Women’s Impact Network at Emerson Electric Inc. Regional Lead (2017–2019)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I love to give back to communities that need it most. One of the most rewarding experiences for me has been able to support Girls Inc. during their yearly gala event where they collect funds for their programs. The impact of the funds is huge as it benefits the girls directly with the programs provided within the walls of Girls, Inc.

Giving back is such a huge part of my life. At some point in my life, someone believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams and supported me throughout the whole process. I want to support those who, like I, once need advice, encouragement and support.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? This is not necessarily an achievement, but a strength and trait that has helped me prevail throughout my professional career. Courage has helped me rise above the challenges I am presented with and be able to adapt swiftly to situations. I moved away from home to be the first gen college grad in my family. I left my hometown and family to go to a foreign country where I barely knew the language so that I could get an education. Also, I have been able to raise my hand when I needed a change or added responsibility in my professional career. Without courage, I wouldn’t be here today finishing my MBA and pursuing a completely different career than what I had envisioned. The thought of who I could have been without courage scares me a bit. I love my life, and I am forever grateful for the blessings it has given me.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I had two favorite MBA professors. One of the reasons why I joined the Executive MBA program was to bridge the gap on my financial acumen. Professor Tod Milbourn helped me achieved that in a very fun way.  I have always been a fan of having fun while learning, and Todd made that a reality while also teaching an essential course for any business professional.

My other favorite professor was Sam Chun. He taught a very important subject that is becoming more and more prominent as we move towards a data-based environment. It’s an area where we, as leaders, need to have a keen understanding of and be able to make informed decisions with the data that is presented to us. Sam taught this course successfully—even when the majority of the class did not know how to use business intelligence programs or excel.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Washington University offered what a lot of other executive MBA programs did not. They offered certainty in an uncertain time (COVID-19). They worked hard to make sure we had all the needed accommodations for those attending online and those in person. Most importantly, they prioritized safety while we met in person for our classes. Having in-person classes during a very difficult time made it even more of a positive experience for us as students. We were able to network while also being safe, which is a very important aspect to mention and recognize. Moreover, the EMBA team (from professors, staff, leadership, etc.) at WashU has been stellar. They constantly communicated with us about the changes happening, and they took our opinions to heart. Even though the situation wasn’t easy, they knew exactly when to pivot to prioritize our needs and safety.

Finally, the courses, faculty and learning this program offers are superb. So superb, in fact, that it is one of the most highly-recognized programs in the nation.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson I learned during my MBA studies was obtained from the wide range of knowledge and experience in the classroom. Your experiences and the way you were brought up are an important aspect of who you are as a person and a leader. Being able to apply that and modify it in a way that aligns with the team you lead –or even with your family—is where the main learning and application comes. The values-based, data-driven decision-making approach taught me that to be a well-rounded leader, one who makes decisions and leads others to achieve their greatest potential, I must seek the source of truth in the data driving outcomes balanced with the values within me and within my team/company to make the best-informed decisions.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Both my husband and I work full-time and have very demanding jobs. We also have two girls and four pets that require our full attention and are very demanding. In addition, we both travel a lot for work. I decided that wasn’t enough (ha!) and joined an executive MBA program that is also a very demanding and time consuming.

We needed a method to manage time away from both work and school plus the extracurricular activity schedules for the girls. I created a shared calendar—one visible on our fridge and one digital. We promised to never compromise the drop-off and pick-up time for the girls, so one of us had to always be available to do it.

I remember one time I was landing at the airport at 1:00 p.m. on a Wednesday while my husband had work travel scheduled to leave at 1:30 p.m. the same day. My husband took care of dropping off the girls that morning, so we saw each other at the airport for 10 minutes, then he took off and I picked up the girls that afternoon from school. The next day, I rushed out the door to drop off the girls and arrived just in time for class. My husband returned from his trip at noon and was able to take care of pick up while I was in school. That was a hectic 24 hours. Juggling work, school and family could not be possible without the support of my husband.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Make sure that you are looking for a program using a holistic approach. WashU’s executive MBA program worked for me because it allowed me to have a flexible schedule to travel for work while also completing my degree and learning the subjects. The length of program and meeting times are also a very important aspect to consider. Lastly, location was important because I didn’t want to lose sight and not be close to home. Other things were also important to consider, such as rankings, professors, price, etc. But the three mentioned above were the most important to me.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth is that you are going to have no life. Honestly, during this time you will be busy, but the impact of what you get versus what you give is immense. I was able to juggle family (husband, kids, pets), work (three changes during the EMBA program) and school all going on at the same time. You don’t need more time; you need resilience. You don’t need to do everything; you need to prioritize. So, yes, you will be busy, but it will be worth it!

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret is that I didn’t take charge more. I am a driver, but during this program I decided to take the passenger seat. While I enjoyed the experience, I regret that I didn’t take charge a bit more. Regardless, the experience was amazing, and the learnings that came with it are unforgettable. They say things happen for a reason, and being in the passenger seat allowed me to see a different side of me from a different perspective. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Dan Furtwengler and Curt Peitzman were the two classmates that I most admire.

Dan inspired me to trust myself and to continue to be bold in my decisions. Dan deserves nothing but my respect. He is one of the people in the program who also grew the most and provided everyone with a very surprising yet extremely valuable perspective. If I had to describe Dan in one word, it would be authentic. He is true to himself, his values, his strengths, his weaknesses, and he always looks forward to becoming better.

Curt was the person I learned from the most. His humility and leadership style of people-first has inspired me to walk outside of my comfort zone. He has added valuable insight and feedback on what I can do better as a leader and where I should focus as I continue to grow in my career.  Not only did Curt inspire everyone in class, his keen ability to lead and grasp concepts has no match. I aspire to be a leader of his caliber one day. If I had to describe Curt in one word it would be humility.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? WashU’s Executive MBA program worked for me because it allowed me to have a flexible schedule to travel for work while also completing my degree and learning the subjects. I was able to fit working on assignments and readings around my schedule.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I aspire to be a courageous and confident woman who brings her true and best self to any situation with a positive attitude. I want to be a woman who takes pride in helping others propel themselves forward and finding the courage inside themselves to rise and take charge of their dreams and goals. In terms of titles, I have nothing specific in mind, but I know I want to lead by example and inspire those around me.

What made Nancy such an invaluable addition to the class of 2022?

“Nancy is exactly the type of Executive MBA student you hope will be in your class— intelligent, prepared, hungry and participative! I met Nancy last summer as part of my Corporate Financial Management class, which takes place near the midpoint of our program. Nancy was active and engaged from the jump. As a faculty member, one feeds off the energy of your students, and Nancy more than does her part, elevating the entire class discussion. I know this perspective is enthusiastically shared among my teaching colleagues and her classmates.

Nancy began the EMBA program while in more of a supply chain role, but clearly she was most cognizant of the role finance plays in an organization and, quite significantly, how it is intertwined with critical supply chain issues. She eagerly sought to augment her knowledge of these relationships on the financial side, devouring the material in meaningful ways. As she now moves into a bigger and broader strategy manager role, I will be keeping an eye out as she takes on the world. The best for Nancy is absolutely yet to be witnessed.”

Todd Milbourn
Vice Dean of Faculty and Research
Hubert C. and Dorothy R. Moog Professor of Finance


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