President of Latin American Student Association (LASA) discusses LASA’s Global Involvement at Darden

By Christina Xu

Name: Matias Rabelo Rengifo (Class of 2017)

Nationality: Colombian & Brazilian

Pre-Darden Education: Universidad de Los Andes, 2005-2010

Work Experience: Prada Financeira, Equity Research Manager; Sr. Financial Consultant, Stern Stewart & Co.

Growing up in Latin America with exposure to multiple cultures and languages, Matias Rabelo Rengifo is a true “global citizen” who now finds himself at Darden, pursuing his MBA degree.

“I first heard about Darden when I was doing research for business schools and MBA programs. I was immediately attracted to the case method at Darden, and decided to pursue education in business management here. The case method doesn’t exist in Colombia, where I attended school previously. Nevertheless, I find it very helpful in that it encourages critical thinking in any given context. Prior to coming here, I also connected with a couple Darden alumni in Brazil, and learned from our conversations about the collaborative culture at Darden.”

As the incoming president of LASA (Latin American Student Association), Matias shared his perspectives on the organization’s goals and future plans. “LASA is one of the largest cultural groups at Darden, with membership from 30 nationalities. The organization aims to promote the Latin American culture within the Darden community from two perspectives: helping the Latin American population to adapt to the American culture and generating more awareness about the Latin American community on grounds.”

Matias shared some past and upcoming flagship activities organized by LASA, from both a social and recruiting perspective. “The largest social event that LASA organizes is the barbecue series. This year we have organized six barbecues. We invited all the Darden community to come together to unite and share good moments and food.” Meanwhile, according to Matias, LASA also provides strong recruiting resources for Darden members. “It is a two-way process. LASA helps Darden students reach employers and alumni to find career opportunities in Latin America, at the same time, the organization also develops relations with employers to increase the awareness of Darden among Latin American companies, through cooperation with Career Development Center (CDC).” Matias also shared signature programs organized through LASA: “We have the ‘LASA buddies’ initiative, where second year MBA students are paired up with first years in an informal mentorship to guide them throughout the recruiting process.”

In terms of future plans, Matias elaborated on his vision to develop more collaboration with other cultural clubs at Darden. “As cultural and regional clubs, we have similar purposes in serving the international student populations, and share the same challenges and opportunities. LASA intends to cooperate with these cultural clubs in the upcoming year, to organize social events to achieve energizing synergies.”

In addition, Matias believes that it is important for business students to approach business problems from diverse perspectives, and Darden’s global community helps significantly in that process. Matias talked about his experience in leadership courses at Darden. “In the leadership courses, we are often given real life business situations and are asked to develop strategies in groups. You will notice how people’s cultural backgrounds lead them to various approaches to the problem, as different countries have different leadership styles. We have deep discussions based on multicultural perspectives and benefit from all.”

Matias strongly recommends the Darden MBA to future applicants. “Darden provides robust academic programs, with an emphasis on the case method that helps develop critical thinking skills. The variety of international opportunities and global alumni network at Darden complements the education, and provides resources to conduct business in any country.”

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