My passion, my path: How I’m furthering my investment banking career at Kellogg
By Carlos Villanueva Prieto ’23 MBA
Two-Year MBA student
I’ve always loved working with numbers and solving complex problems. In Spain, my home country, I graduated with a degree in engineering. Post-graduation, I worked in trading and capital markets, both in Spain and London.
When I decided to move to the U.S. for my MBA, I was focused on furthering my finance career. I was fortunate enough to be accepted by different great programs, and suddenly faced a new problem of deciding which program to choose.
However, while speaking with students at Kellogg, the problem solved itself. I felt an immediate connection to the Kellogg community. Everyone was so supportive, responsive and genuinely nice.
I quickly decided to attend Kellogg — interactions with various people showed me everything I needed to know about the school culture. And the expertise and experience of professors showed me that learning from them would help my skillset and network.
I’m set to graduate in 2023, and I have found my time at Kellogg to be fruitful. If you’re a first-year or a prospective student considering Kellogg, here are some of the classes, people, and clubs that I’ve found immensely helpful.
My favorite finance classes
- Accelerated Corporate Finance: To anyone coming into Kellogg with a finance background, I suggest taking this course straightaway. This allowed me to quickly take more advanced finance classes in my first year.
- Mergers and Acquisitions: By taking ACF in my first quarter, I was soon after able to take a brilliant class called M&A, LBOs and Corporate Restructuring taught by Professor José Liberti. It’s a popular class that is quite challenging yet rewarding. Groups of students would read case studies each week. In class, we had to defend and discuss the case studies, with Professor Liberti and the other groups pushing back with their diverse viewpoints. It was a fantastic learning opportunity that built upon my knowledge of finance through tangible real-world case studies.
- Entrepreneurial Finance and Venture Capital: I also strongly recommend this course, which I took with Professor Scott Baker. In this class, we explored funding at different stages of investing — angel, seed, venture, and late stage/growth venture capital. During my summer internship in Investment Banking at Citi and the current internship I am doing with Ponte Partners, a San Francisco based fund, I quickly realized how applicable the material was.
If you’re intentional about your course selection at Kellogg, professors will give you tools that you can apply to your life and career right away.
Sharpening soft skills
One of the main reasons I came to Kellogg was to develop my soft skills and network. That’s why I’ve loved the non-finance classes I’ve taken.
My favorite non-finance classes have been Negotiation Fundamentals, Executive Presentations, Selling Yourself and Your Ideas, and Personal Leadership Insights. These classes have taught me how to better present my ideas, argue my positions constructively and relate to people. These courses went beyond your traditional classroom environment, which helped strengthen my relationship with fellow students.
The clubs of Kellogg
Kellogg has a reputation as a student-run school, and I’ve found that to be completely true. There is a plethora of options you can explore for different areas of finance: Investment Banking & Capital Markets club, FinTech club, Investment Management club, Private Equity/Venture Capital clubs, Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition club. The list goes on. There are also regional sponsored clubs that highlight the finance opportunities for those interested in global careers.
Clubs at Kellogg have given me a chance to develop relationships and form bonds with other students. These clubs have made it easy to form new relationships in surprisingly fun environments.
Professors to know
Kellogg professors I’ve met have vast networks, great experience and seem truly invested in the success of their students.
- If you’re interested in building a career in finance, I highly recommend getting to know Professor Liberti. He’s been helpful to me from day one at Kellogg. He’s very responsive and truly cares for his students.
- I also suggest getting to know Professor Mitchell Petersen, who teaches ACF. He’s very involved with students and will take the time to help guide you on your finance journey.
- Professor Baker is a great professor with an incredible network in the entrepreneurial and venture capital space. Some of these connections will participate as lecturers in his class.
- A professor you want get to know if you are curious about search funds is Matt Littell. He teaches a course on Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition. He brought in different speakers that were both Kellogg graduates and had raised search funds themselves.
Open mind, prioritize time
For students starting at Kellogg, come with an open mind. There are so many people to meet and things to do at Kellogg — you will never get bored.
But I want to warn you against a big challenge: Don’t allow yourself to overextend yourself. You can’t possibly do it all at Kellogg — and that’s okay.
Having a huge number of choices at Kellogg is a great problem, but you must learn how to organize your time. That’s the biggest challenge that most students face. Engage in courses and activities that give you enjoyment and maximize your experience and learn to say no to others that do not do so.
A true finance school
Many of you reading this may not immediately think of Kellogg as a finance school. But in my experience, it has been wonderful.
Having worked in different cities in Europe, I was excited to explore finance opportunities in the US. The network and skills I have gained at Kellogg have helped me tremendously.
My experience at Kellogg has put me in a hugely competitive position to excel in a career in finance. If you come here, leading firms will be trying to convince you why you should come work for them — I did not see that coming!
More than anything, my time at Kellogg has been a fun, transformative experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.