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Lucía Vallejo Peñaherrera

  • Programme: LBS Sloan Masters
  • Nationality: Ecuadorian
  • Job Pre-programme: Manufacturing engineering, process and projects manager, General Motors Ecuador

Education and experience

Lucía began her career as a trainee engineer with Occidental Exploration and Production in Ecuador. She then moved to General Motors where she moved rapidly up to management level. Lucía holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Escuela Politecnica Del Ejercito, and an MBA from Instituto Superior Tecnologico de Monterrey. She was awarded the Sloan Alumni Scholarship.

Leadership and culture

By the time I came to Sloan I had been working at General Motors for more than 15 years. As an engineering manager, I spent a lot of time planning, executing and launching new products. It felt like the right time, both personally and professionally, to take a break, and I was keen to refresh my skill set in strategy and leadership. I also wanted a programme that would complement and develop my existing knowledge and experience.

Sloan has given me exactly what I was looking for. I love the programme’s exclusivity, and the curriculum has just the right focus on leadership and strategic decision making.

I was very excited to experience life in Europe – now I’m studying in one of the world’s great capital cities, at one of the world’s best business schools. I have inspiring classes on campus, and in addition to that I’m soaking up European history by visiting museums, castles and parks. Sloan has been an adventure for our whole family and my expectations have been fulfilled in every sense.

Rediscovering team skills

What I’ve most enjoyed about Sloan is my peer group.

The diversity and level of professional experience that my classmates bring to the table is truly unique, as are the networking opportunities across the wider School community. My study group includes members from India, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland. I’m used to being in a management position and giving directions to others, but in this environment I’ve had to rediscover my team skills. I’m listening more carefully to those around me, and embracing the different perspectives my classmates bring to the table.

Sloan has challenged me to think in a different way. I’m aware of my own strengths and weaknesses and humbled by my cohort of equally ambitious and successful Fellows. I approach things differently now, and I’ve definitely changed as a leader. I’m better at negotiating and leading change, and I now have a strong financial toolkit to boost my existing engineering knowledge.

Embracing new challenges

London is a great place to be and I’m thrilled my daughters have had this experience. It’s an incredibly international city, so we’ve never felt like strangers here.

My husband is taking a sabbatical from his company in Ecuador and really enjoying spending quality time with the kids. Initially we were concerned it might be difficult for our three girls to adjust, (they’re 8, 5 and 2), but their English is now better than mine, and it’s actually been really easy for them to fit in. I believe that exposing them to a different culture will help them become successful and adaptable as they grow up – for now, they just want to know where we’re going next!

I don’t yet know exactly what my next career move will be. I may go back to General Motors in Ecuador, or I may take on a new role somewhere in Europe. Thanks to Sloan, I can lead more effectively within fastchanging, cross-cultural environments, a critical skill in today’s global world. Regardless of where I end up, I want to be the kind of leader that creates value, provides jobs for others and helps improve lives. I want to contribute actively to society, and I’m keen to help other women embrace better opportunities. I’m comfortable with my newly enhanced skill set, and fully confident I can meet any future challenge head on.