Nelly with her pup @masha.mochi

First Year Nelly Huaman Sotomayor was born and raised in Lima, Peru, and she considers herself to be a Latina and a proud Peruvian. She is also a self-proclaimed dog lover, and enjoys exploring the world. She’s always looking forward to planning her next trip – so far, she’s visited over 25 countries.

The Class of 2024 is well underway into their core classes (all First Year students take the same required classes to set a baseline academic foundation), and Huaman Sotomayor shared insights about her first few months at Darden. She also prescribed helpful advice for prospective students, “the key to success is to be yourself every time.”

Q: What was your background before coming to Darden?

A: I have more than 7 years of experience working for multinational companies leading diverse teams and projects in Peru, Ecuador and Latin America. After graduating as a bachelor’s in hospitality management, I transitioned into the Financial Services industry to manage the internal communications and corporate social responsibility strategies for Citi Peru. After a couple of years, I assumed a new challenge in Equifax to oversee the demand generation, branding and communications strategies for Peru and

Nelly Huaman Sotomayor (Class of 2024)

Ecuador. While working there, I was appointed as the branding and communications leader of Latin America. The last four years before coming to Darden, I headed the communications and cultural transformation of Falabella Financiero, as the Assistant Manager of Climate, Culture, Communications and Sustainability of the financial holding of this major retail Latin American group. Just right before starting my Full-Time MBA at Darden, I managed public relations for the consumer division of Huawei, a consumer technology firm.

Q: How did you end up at Darden?

A: When I was doing my research about business schools, I was looking for the ones that share my same vision and values as an individual and as a leader, and that is how I chose Darden. Moreover, since the first moment I reached some alum and students, I was convinced that I belonged to this school because of its people. When I visited Darden during Darden Days, I re-confirmed this feeling and the match between my values and Darden’s culture.

The case method was another driver that convinced me to come to Darden because of how much I would learn when here. Now that I am here, I have no regrets. So far, I have learned a lot from my colleagues during class discussion and learning team meetings

My application process was unique and memorable because I interacted with many current students and alums who told me about their experiences and gave me a better sense of how the Darden community is. I enjoyed answering the questions of the application form because those are aligned to my values: leadership, personal development and diversity. I got to reflect about myself and share my personal experience.

The interview process, as everything new in life, sounded scary at the beginning, but once I was interviewing it was like a coffee chat with a person I already knew. My interviewer was approachable and kind, she asked me some questions and was interested about my story.

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: In the short and long-term, I want to pursue a career in management consulting and be involved in the problem-solving process of companies from different industries, while proposing new ideas and connecting with professionals from around the world. For me, giving back to my community is vital, so I am interested in working in some projects for Latin America.

Nelly Huaman Sotomayor shows off her Section E pride.

From a professional standpoint, I want to learn from my peers of Class 2024 while having the case-method discussion. I believe that this is the best way to train myself to improve my strategic thinking and business acumen skills to transition into consulting and achieve my future goals. I am convinced that Darden will give me all the tools and support for me to get prepared for my internship and get a full-time offer afterwards.

Regarding my personal development, I am sure that I will make friends for a lifetime; people at Darden are amazing. This is such a supportive and collaborative culture that makes you feel special and as if you were with your family. Being an international student is not easy because you are experiencing new situations, but being supported and encouraged by your peers, makes the difference.

I would also like to build a strong professional network not only with Class of 2024, but with various Darden alum. I also expect to keep improving my leadership and creativity skills by being actively involved in the various clubs initiatives.

Q: What advice do you have for prospective students about to embark on the application process?

A: My main piece of advice will be to explore more about Darden culture, get connected with current students and alum for them to talk more about their experiences. It is vital to attend the different events organized by admissions and the clubs to learn about the application process details and strengthen your network.

The key to success is to be yourself every time, when answering the question in the application form, when being interviewed and when interacting with other people. This will allow the Admissions team and you to confirm if you fit in the Darden culture.

Since you have to tell about your story, personal and professional, it would be interesting to reflect about your past experiences or talk to your peers and friends to get feedback about yourself so that you can tell your holistic story and learn even more about you as an individual. This will be useful for your essays and your interview.