Pablo Polzer Lecuona ’22 on why joining the Yale School of Management’s Silver Scholars program was a clear choice for him after obtaining an undergraduate degree.
I was exposed to business and developed a global mindset at a young age. Growing up, my mother’s entrepreneurship instilled in me the impact that business can have on society, while being born into two cultures (German and Spanish) enhanced my global awareness. These threads would be a common theme throughout my journey toward ultimately pursuing an MBA at the Yale School of Management.
Heading to college, I chose to study a dual degree in international relations and sociology at the University of Leeds in the UK to get a broad understanding of how countries and societies function. I wanted to then build upon my undergraduate studies with a business-focused master’s degree that would expose me to more applied concepts for the world of commerce. This would equip me to build on my existing interest in a career in strategy-related roles.
I spent my summers during university working in both international institutions and traditional businesses on strategic roles. At the European Parliament, my role involved working closely with AFET, the foreign affairs committee, to analyze current events and supporting MEPs in the definition of policy responses. Meanwhile, at Daimler AG, I worked in the investor relations department to present the group’s new strategic course to key stakeholders. While these roles gave me valuable early exposure to the business world, I knew that a formal business education would be crucial to advance my career.
As I explored various options, the Silver Scholars program immediately stood out for a variety of reasons. At Yale SOM, I could get one year of business school training and build a network before leaving for my gap years. I was also compelled to join a very international community that mirrored my multicultural background and take advantage of the unique aspects of the academic experience. SOM’s integrated core curriculum offered the opportunity to study many fields from different stakeholders’ points of view and how these perspectives tie together. It was precisely the educational experience I wanted. Furthermore, acquiring the “crown” of business education—an MBA—out of college is a great way to accelerate a career.
Having completed the first year, I can say the experience was even better than anticipated.
After my first year, I wanted to pursue opportunities in consulting and gain broad exposure across several industries. When I started my first internship in the Strategy & M&A department of the Deutsche Börse, one of the world’s largest stock exchange operators, the benefits of the MBA became clear. My SOM training allowed me to evaluate the strategic implications and possible competitor reactions to business decisions, while also analyzing the financial details of an acquisition. During my three months at Deutsche Börse, my colleagues recognized my work, and I became the first intern allowed to take the lead on projects and present the results to the board. Leveraging this experience, I applied for a consultant internship at Bain with a written recommendation from my manager. I managed to extend this internship to six months instead of the typical three-month program and to position myself to participate in highly coveted international projects across different industries. I would not have succeeded if it weren’t for the training I received in the core curriculum classes.
During my internship experience I ended up developing the itch to use the full range of skills I learned at Yale SOM and try my hand at building my own business. The Silver Scholars program gives students a great amount of flexibility to extend the one year of work experience and try out different career paths, which facilitated my choice of becoming an entrepreneur.
It is difficult to overstate the positive impact the Silver Scholars program has had on both my personal and professional development. It offers a great curriculum and also rewards individuals for taking a step forward to shape their own experience. Academically, this means choosing as many electives as you feel you can handle, both at SOM and across Yale. Professors are also incredibly approachable, supportive of your professional goals, and open to discussing any topic of interest.
This approach of rewarding individuals who take a step forward also applies to the social experience. Starting the program at age 18, I am the youngest Silver Scholar SOM has had. I initially worried about how I would fit into a community of people who were on average 10 years older than I. However, any worry quickly subsided. SOM does a remarkable job of building an inclusive, open community. Unlike how I have felt many times before in my life, I have not felt discriminated against because of my age at SOM. I have instead experienced a community that rewards members for being themselves and appreciates the value that each individual brings.This is not to say that I did not experience some suprises: my Sunday evenings were occupied by dinners with classmates who included a married couple in their 30s and a Japanese banker with more years of work experience than I can fathom. The fact that these were my best friends, however, attests to Yale’s open culture. If I had to give advice to an incoming Silver Scholar, it would be to invest time in getting to know your classmates and feel free and safe to be yourself.
As I embark on the exciting path of entrepreneurship, I look forward to returning to Yale and continuing to leverage SOM’s growing entrepreneurship programs to develop my business for the next chapter of my journey.