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Getting Back to America

Vanderbilt helps international finance professional build US investment banking career

Alejandro Ariza Gomez
Leveraged Finance Associate, Bank of America

Vanderbilt MBA 2022

After earning his undergraduate degree in the U.S., Alejandro Ariza went back to Colombia and helped his hometown, Barranquilla, win an international grant that funded a 50-year master development plan for the city. Then, working with the country’s largest development bank, he led a process that resulted in the issue of $500 million in bonds to fund the plan. Nearly a decade of experience in the financial industry took him to New York, then back to Colombia, where he directed the financial planning for the third-largest airport in Latin America.

Ultimately, Alejandro concluded, he wanted to return to investment banking in the United States. And the fastest way to achieve that, he reasoned, was to earn an MBA from an American university. Vanderbilt seemed the obvious choice. “What drew me to Vanderbilt,” he says, “was its brand recognition in the finance world, the variety of financial firms that recruit from the university, the STEM-designated program, and the fact that a ‘small’ school would allow me to be open and honest about my goals and perspectives.”

Once he arrived, Alejandro found another dimension to the school that benefited his career plan: Owen students and alumni. “For internationals,” he explains, “the process of getting a job has become harder, given the long and costly process of sponsorship. Through Owen alums, however, I was able to find a great opportunity to work for Bank of America. Their support during the interview process—and the reassurance that the bank would help me with the entire [sponsorship] process—made everything easier and gave me more peace of mind.”

After achieving his goal and reflecting on his decision to come to Vanderbilt, Alejandro is more convinced than ever that he made the right choice. “I think this program opened the door to future roles and connections in the professional world that would have taken a longer time to develop on my own,” he says. “More importantly, I think Vanderbilt gave me a wide professional network in the United States—from New York to Seattle—which was one of my main objectives coming to business school. Even though it is a relatively small school, I think its footprint in the United States and in a number of industries is right up there with much larger programs.”

Fun Fact: Alejandro enjoys triathlon races—he ran his first Iron Man while in the MBA program—and has lost more than 70 pounds since he began training and competing.

I think Vanderbilt gave me a wide professional network in the United States, from New York to Seattle.