2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Aurora Castillo Magner, IE Brown Executive MBA

Aurora Castillo Magner

IE Brown Executive MBA (IE Business School and Brown University)

Age: 36

“Innovative, strategic, results-driven leader empowering teams to drive change. Passionate about equity and inclusion.”

Hometown: Lynnfield, MA

Family Members: Craig Magner (husband), Irlanda Castillo (mother), Silvia Castillo Gruber (sister), Vanessa Castillo (sister), Sebastian Gruber, Julian Gruber, Genesis Baez, Miranda Baez (nieces and nephews)

Fun fact about yourself: I write poetry and short stories.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, Bentley University 2008

Where are you currently working? Santander Bank, Senior Director of Digital Transformation

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: National Lead for Conexion (Santander organization for the empowerment of Latinos & Hispanics); Junior Achievement volunteer; Junior Achievement associate board of Directors (2020-2022); CGI I.T Girl Challenge Judge; Year Up speaker; Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship volunteer; Sponsor for Fundacion un Mundo Mejor (orphanage in the Dominican Republic) since 2012

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I became National Lead for Conexion, the business group dedicated to the empowerment of Latinos and Hispanics at Santander. I have been involved with the organization since its inception in 2019 when I became regional lead and was an integral part of evolving the Santander DEI agenda.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Received the Santander Digital Transformation Award in 2019 and 2022.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I have two. The first is Jill Paine (Leading People, Teams, and Organizations). Jill was instrumental in helping me define the type of leader that I want to be and how I can bring my values to the way I lead teams and organizations. The second is Borja de Linaje Perez (Entrepreneurship). He did an amazing job helping us develop a business from start-to-finish and understand how entrepreneurship skills and tools can be valuable for intrapreneurs in large organizations. I loved his hands-on approach and consistent feedback.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I wanted a program that understands that Leadership is not just about managing a company’s P&L but that it is just as important to understand how to manage the impact of business decisions on people and society. This program does a great job at marrying IE’s business curriculum with Brown’s humanities curriculum to do just that.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Since I am in Digital Banking, I did not expect Operations and Supply Chain Management to be very applicable to my role. However, I was able to gain valuable lessons in that class that I was able to apply to my role. In this clas,s I learned how to incorporate TQM principles and practices to ensure our digital transformation efforts are aligned with customer needs, focused on continuous improvement, data-driven, and embraced by employees. While in the MBA, I became responsible for Transformation Readiness and this concept was extremely useful. I was able to leverage TQM principles to ensure quality is embedded in all aspects of transformation readiness – including stakeholder engagement, operating model design, testing, training, and communications.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education?  I got married during the program (two months before graduation during spring break). I had a beautiful wedding with friends and family in the Dominican Republic and while it was a lot of work, it was an amazing experience.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Do not focus so much on the grades, instead focus on the learning and growth process and the grades will follow.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That I would not be able to spend time with my family and friends. While I did not spend as much time with them, I was able to be there for key moments. This required careful prioritization, but it is possible.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not frequently leveraging professors or peers for guidance or help when I was stuck. I learned this during the last term, and it was extremely helpful.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Irene Ikomu. Irene owns a consulting firm in Uganda. She is one of the smartest people I’ve met, and I really enjoy speaking with her about almost any topic. What I admire the most is her ability to be a quiet leader, make others feel heard and valued, and be an advocate for African entrepreneurship and development.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I am part of a very exciting digital transformation in my company and did not want to take time off. I chose an EMBA because I wanted to network with and learn from peers with significant experience.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to become Chief Digital Officer.

What made Aurora Castillo Magner such an invaluable addition to the class of ’23?

“Aurora represents, at its best, the heart and philosophy of our program, combining managerial skills with the importance of people and society. She is an executive at Banco Santander having been awarded several awards in her division while at the same time she devotes her time to empower the Latinos and Hispanics in her workforce to ensure her organization is inclusive and that underrepresented communities have a voice.

She is a clear example of how to be both personally successful and committed to doing the very best for society as a whole. She has been one of our top students in the class while managing a career and volunteering in many causes, including those focused on the empowerment of women and Latinos in the workforce.

She is certainly one of our best and brightest and I cannot wait to see her future achievements and the impact she will have when she becomes a Chief Digital Officer of a top company!”

Patricia Carnicero
Program Director
IE Brown EMBA Program


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