Meet the 2023 MBA class: Nicole de Ovin-Berenguer, Cornell University (Johnson)


There are the crazy cats, then there are the crazy plants and it’s someone I can relate to!

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Fun fact about yourself: I like to travel to extreme places like camping in the Arctic Circle in winter and venturing into the caldera of an active volcano.

Undergraduate and major school: Florida International University, Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management; Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration, Master of Management in Hospitality, Graduate Minor in Real Estate

Most recent employer and job title: Next Step Design, Assistant project manager

Apart from your classmates, what was the key element of Cornell’s MBA program that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The immersion program. Coming from a non-traditional pre-MBA career and looking to switch to ag-tech, Johnson’s customizable immersion program allows me to tailor the program to effectively fill my knowledge and skills gaps in order to be successful. to pivot into a new industry.

What class, club or activity are you most passionate about at Cornell? Johnson’s J-FAB (Food, Food and Beverage) club and a course called Hydroponic Food Crop Production and Management are two things that fascinate me at Cornell. Not only will I be able to network with students in similar and adjacent fields as a member of J-FAB, but I will also be able to take advantage of the University’s world-renowned School of Agriculture (CALS) to gain a more understanding deepened into the growing side of the agro-tech industry, where Johnson provides the business side.

What excites you most about living in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region? Having lived in Ithaca before, I can’t wait to go back. Ithaca and the greater Finger Lakes region have endless festivals, farms, state parks, and not to mention great restaurants. What I look forward to the most is the camaraderie within Johnson and the greater Cornell community.

Describe your greatest achievement in your career so far: My biggest professional achievement has been taking the reins of a $ 6 million plus kitchen build in a multi-story dining concept with a production kitchen in an iconic New York City building. Coordinating with various stakeholders on the management of a project of this magnitude in tandem with other clients was an important step and proved to be very rewarding. I was able to strengthen not only my skills in project management, but also in leadership, organization and time management.

How has COVID-19 changed your perspective on your career and your life in general? The pandemic gave me time to develop my personal activities, which ultimately allowed me to increase my potential to achieve my career goals. At the same time, I was able to think about what I really wanted from my career, with the pandemic that pushed me to pursue Agri-tech.

What drew you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after you graduate? After finding that career advancement in the restaurant design industry was limited, I knew I had to rotate industries. I thought about where I wanted to see my career in the short and long term. To achieve these goals, I felt I needed a formal business foundation to become an effective business leader and decided that the best way to achieve these goals would be through a program of MBA. After graduation, I hope to become a strategic growth manager within the agro-tech industry.

What other MBA programs have you applied to? Having decided to pursue an MBA at the end of the 2020-2021 application cycle, I chose to focus my efforts on the one school that would best match my career goals: Cornell Johnson.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission to Cornell’s MBA program? Think about your career goals and determine if the school’s resources match. Network with current and former students to gain a deep understanding of the culture, rigor, and engagement of the school and the program. Take the time to effectively communicate your goals and potential contributions not only to Johnson but to the Cornell community as a whole.


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