Our Stories

Making Marketing about People

Odelia Lao finds not just knowledge but potential partners

Odelia Lao
Marketing Summer Associate, Nestlé

Vanderbilt MBA 2019

Odelia Lao’s motivation for pursuing an MBA was straightforward. “I always aspired to be a brand manager,” she says, “but kept getting passed over for brand management opportunities in my career. As soon as I put ‘MBA’ on my resumé, I started getting interviews from companies I had been eyeing for years.”

But when it came to choosing which MBA program to join, the choice for Odelia involved much more than a credential. “It’s cliché,” she says, “but I chose Vanderbilt because of the people.

“When I was trying to decide which B-school to go to, I thought about which school had students who I would want to be potential business partners with and, more important, which had students who would become my friends forever. I wanted to go to a school with alumni who would go the extra yard to guide me however they could. For me, Vanderbilt was the clear answer, and I haven’t looked back. Every alum I contacted responded and gave me their time. And it was with alumni help that I was able to attain my summer internship” (with Nestlé).

To Odelia, the personal orientation at Vanderbilt went beyond students and alumni. She recalls being able to walk into the office of Professor Kelly Goldsmith before enrolling in her marketing class. “I knocked on her door to chat, and she immediately welcomed me with open arms,” Odelia recalls. “Now I’ve been in two of her classes. She rekindled my passion for marketing.”

Odelia also cites the way that faculty and staff have been consistently receptive to her ideas. “I said I wanted more experiential learning opportunities, and various faculty and Career Center members provided them for me,” she says. “I voiced a few ways that orientation could improve, and staff members listened. I found ways that the Vanderbilt Marketing Association could improve, and now I am on the board, trying to make those changes for next year. In addition to all the people who have made this experience better than I could have expected, this program has pushed me to grow outside of my comfort zone and given me the opportunity to make a difference.”

Fun Fact: After standing in line outdoors in sub-freezing weather, Odelia was the last person to get a seat in the audience for the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to see her favorite celebrity, Justin Timberlake, who gave her a high five. Justin Timberlake has given me a high five on each of my hands!

“Every alum I contacted responded and gave me their time.”