(José) Tomás Barriga (Class of 2022) is a current MBA student from Chile. Tomás graduated summa cum laude from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in 2011. This summer, Tomás interned with Amazon in the Financial Leadership Development Program, and he will be joining the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in the Seattle office after graduation. Tomás shared more about his experience at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business with the Center for Global Initiatives. In his own words:

Tell us a little about your background? What brought you to the University of Virginia?

I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile, and attended the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. I graduated with a degree in both Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. I worked for more than seven years at LATAM Airlines Group in various positions. My last two years, I was Head of Investor Relations before coming to Darden.

I decided to pursue an MBA because I studied engineering, not business and administration, and I wanted to acquire management tools and a strong business foundation.

What inspired you to come to Charlottesville, and Darden specifically?

As an international student, I wanted to have an immersive MBA experience and build connections with my classmates. In a small city like Charlottesville, you can easily make those connections because you continuously interact with them after classes. In large cities, you have many other distractions. In addition, I came to Charlottesville with my wife and we brought our two dogs from Chile with us, so the outdoor opportunities at Charlottesville were a huge plus.

For Darden specifically, I liked the rigor of the program. Doing 600 cases over two years, discussing them with your Learning Team, and then in classes again, is an opportunity to see real-business decisions from multiple perspectives in a short period of time. It is accelerated experiential learning.

I also liked the collaborative spirit here at Darden. The support you get from your Learning Team, section, and faculty is essential to juggling academics, recruiting, and social activities.

Why did you choose to seek a leadership position in LASA? What are your hopes for the organization going forward?

I joined LASA because I wanted to help promote the Latin American culture at Darden. Not only do we share our culture with barbecues and parties (which, by the way, are great), but we also demonstrate how supportive LASA is by helping our members with recruiting efforts, connecting them with companies, advising on interview preparations, and many other initiatives we are working on. We plan to continue this going forward.

What was the most unexpected thing you have learned from studying at Darden?

The most unexpected thing I learned is that you can have a great discussion around a company selling contact lenses for chickens! The quality of the faculty is truly outstanding. Every case we study can create a lot of debate, take any direction, and make you realize some points that you would have never thought about before.

How have you incorporated your cultural background here at Darden?

It is hard to pick only one way because you have many ways to incorporate your heritage here at Darden. You have club activities such as the Global Food Festival, the Hispanic Heritage week or multiple LASA activities, where you can show some typical country traditions. We also celebrated our national holidays together with other Chileans in Charlottesville (some are in Law school or just working remotely from here), and that also attracted others to join us (it might have been the smell of the barbecue, though).

What advice do you have for Darden students?

At Darden, you will find countless activities, initiatives, and organizations that you will want to do. Prioritizing is essential to make the most of these opportunities, contribute with your 100%, and learn from these experiences.

For international students specifically, I would recommend pursuing leadership positions at clubs. There are plenty of opportunities to contribute to making the Darden experience better for all students. Any club can benefit a lot from the perspective that only you can provide.