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Pamela Flores Mónico (MBA2022) rose the ranks of the pharmaceutical industry for seven years in her native Argentina, working on marketing and product managing innovative drugs. Thanks to a Laidlaw scholarship, the London Business School (LBS) MBA alumna is now on an exciting new path working for Boston Consulting Group, with the aim to delve deeper into focussing on social impact consulting and health.
I grew up in Argentina, where there is a lot of disparity between people - the gap between rich and poor is very visible. My family moved there from El Salvador for better employment opportunities but I also saw first-hand the inequality which exists there. From an early age I had wanted to become a leader and do something good for the world or for the country – I was quite idealistic at that point, but I felt a sense of responsibility to try and affect change for people in Argentina and other developing countries. Growing up, I was a tutor for students from different backgrounds – I met so many children who were super-intelligent but who didn’t have the resources or the networks to get to better places or have a better life.
Before I went to university, I volunteered with a women’s shelter in Nicaragua back in 2013. I was there for three weeks, and it made me wonder how much you can actually achieve in such a short period. I realised I wanted to do something which would have a lasting effect, over a longer time.
During university - where I studied business - I did an internship in the pharmaceutical industry. This led me into the healthcare space, and an industry where I felt I could make a difference. I started in HR at GSK, before moving into marketing - luckily, studying business meant my skills were holistic enough to make that transition, and I took part in a rotation programme across the business. I really enjoyed the flexibility of the programme, and afterwards I secured a position managing and launching products related to respiratory disease and improving their performance. I then moved to Novartis where I worked in marketing and product management, focusing on drugs for multiple sclerosis. I saw the pharmaceutical industry change its attitude to tackling diseases, and the move towards biotech – a science-driven industry sector that uses living organisms and molecular biology to produce heathcare-related products that address very specific issues within the body, rather than wider systems. That means helping people to live longer and have a better quality of life.
I had always wanted to study for an MBA to advance my career, and by 2019 I felt I had hit a ceiling in Argentina. I thought an MBA would allow me to develop, and ultimately move into a more strategic role. I reflected on the fact that my parents had moved to a new country and things had worked out for them, so I thought “maybe I could do that too”. I had already spent more than 20 years of my life in Argentina, so it felt like a good time to try somewhere else and I thought it would give me more access to opportunities that would have a greater impact on my career. There was also the thought of what I could bring back – what skills could I gain in the UK or Europe that I could share in my country or community? It was a mixture of all these things – my background, my curiosity, and wanting to leverage everything I could learn elsewhere to take home at some point.
London felt like the place for me. There’s a breadth and diversity to the people and the way they think. I liked how easy it was to be open here, and how connected it feels to the rest of the world.
I came to LBS on an open day in 2019, and instantly felt drawn there. It might sound a bit of a cliché, but it’s important for me to feel that connection with people, and I felt that with the people that I met on campus. They were also thinking about how they could make an impact on the world, which is so important to me too. I went to an economics class on pricing - something I never thought could be fun - and I remember thinking, I’m really enjoying this. As a student, I loved the multicultural experience of LBS, and the fact that almost every country in the world is represented.
An elective on financing entrepreneurial business was one of my favourites. It sparked my interest in venture capital and, in particular, impact investing. I also loved the emerging markets class, and learning about why different countries have been able to grow and develop economically and politically, and why others haven’t. We even talked about Chile and Argentina; it was really interesting to get outsiders’ perspectives on what was happening back at home. The professor Paolo Surico was always saying, “I’m not going to give you the answers - I want to give you the tools to assess things by yourself.” I loved the idea that I was being taught to make my own judgements.
The Career Centre at LBS was a big part of my preparation for what I wanted to do next. I really liked the way my coach approached the conversations in terms of working out how I should go about my job search. Initially I was thinking purely about social impact and NGOs, but through our conversations I realised how much impact consulting could have. Talking it through with someone made it easier to understand the path I wanted to follow, and led me to apply for my internship with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), where I now work. It’s such a collaborative atmosphere within LBS, and I was able to leverage the alumni network as well to connect with people who had gone into consulting, enabling me to see their paths and what they had achieved.
The Laidlaw scholarship was a major part of my decision to do my MBA in 2020. If I hadn’t got it, I would have definitely had to put my plans on hold. Between Covid and my own personal circumstances, it wasn’t something I could comfortably afford - I was already wondering how I would ever be able to repay a loan. Getting the scholarship took all those problems away, and made the decision easy for me.
I took full advantage of the extracurricular opportunities at LBS, including the Women in Business Club, Women’s Touch Rugby Club, and the Social Impact Club. The Social Impact Club was very important in terms of thinking about ways to have a positive impact in business and create a better future for everyone. You might think that social impact is just NGOs, but it’s so much more than that. We wanted to show our fellow students that social impact doesn’t have to be prescriptive, and that it can also take place in multinational companies or in consulting firms that don’t specialise in this type of consulting.
Joining BCG straight from LBS has given me a stronger footing for my career in many ways. For example, I was afraid of networking before I came to LBS, but the MBA helped me rethink the word and made me realise how much I liked connecting with people and helping to bring others together. It’s now something I’ve been able to bring into consulting, whether I’m handling client relationships or working with internal stakeholders. I also wasn’t sure about studying data analytics, but I’m glad I saw it through as it’s now something I use all the time at work. The MBA gave me the tools in many areas to extend my skills and go far beyond what I was already doing.
Learn more about the Laidlaw Women’s Leadership Fund.
Pamela Flores Monico was a recipient of the MBA Laidlaw Women's Leadership Fund