Natalia Baryshnikova, our September 2009 Student of the Month, personifies the restless spirit for self-improvement that we at Pericles so admire. She has already excelled at virtually everything that she’s attempted. What makes Natalia stand out is her belief in herself, and in her idea that excellent is still not good enough. She scored 710 on her first attempt at GMAT. Most people would be thrilled with this score. Natalia simply shrugged, said she could do better, and retook the exam a month later, scoring 730. Her TOEFL score was a similarly impressive 118.
Natalia’s professional history also exemplifies this desire for excellence. She worked as a weekend street artist on her way to graduating from Moscow State University with a red diploma in history. Her second job was with a top-tier Russian PR agency, where she fell in love with professional services marketing.
Natalia’s love of marketing has proved long lived. After graduating from MSU, she joined the marketing department at White & Case, one of the world’s largest international law firms with 36 offices in 25 countries. She has stayed there the six years since graduation; she says that every single day has been a pleasure. At White & Case, she’s currently responsible for business development activities, external communications and charitable projects.
Her charitable nature is evident outside of the office as well. She devotes a significant amount of her time to volunteering (she is a co-founder of a volunteer society) and acts as a pro bono marketing consultant to several charitable organizations.
All of these activities would be enough for most people, but not Natalia. She also finds or makes times for her hobbies, which include playing Go (an ancient Chinese strategy board game) and badminton, as well as riding motorcycles. She used to be a fashion columnist for a large, glossy Russian lifestyle magazine.
Natalia says that she wants to get an MBA not to switch careers, but to gain perspective. This desire meshes perfectly with everything we at Pericles already know about her. She simply wants to become more efficient at what she already does well (and loves doing). She hopes to get a new level of understanding of how things work in business. Natalia thinks that professional services marketing needs people with strategic vision and the capacity to change the industry for the better; she wants to become one of those people.
Natalia asked that we not identify her MBA program of choice, but simply state that she’s applying to a couple of top-10 U.S. business schools. She would also like to thank her classmates at Pericles for being great company; she wishes them the best on their exams. She singled out Professor Ali for his extraordinarily useful classes and his passion for what he’s doing. Last, but not least, she wants to thank her colleagues at White & Case for helping her grow.
She also suggests that people join the Pericles facebook alumni group, because it’s a good way to stay in touch, and hopefully useful to all of the students.
Update: In February 2010, Natalia informed us that she was accepted to, and decided to attend MIT, Sloan School of Management.