The decision to go back to school and move to Spain for her MBA is Kelly Chavez's greatest achievement. The QS Community Scholarship winner speaks with TopMBA.com about cultural differences and MBAs.

A finance specialist with five years experience in the private sector, Chavez is looking for a career change, so she applied to ESADE Business School for an MBA to focus on development finance.

I've now graduated, but am still searching for a job in this field. This year is a very different year as we all realise. Since I am changing careers and it is a recession, things may take longer to come to fruition. I have not given up on this career, and at this point I am determined to pursue working towards increasing access to capital for development.

Chavez admits she's stubborn - a trait, she says, has served her well in persevering to achieve her goals. I never give up, because I am just too stubborn to not finish something that I started. But on the other side, I realise the weakness of this trait in that it takes me a long time to accept other people's advice. I guess every trait has two sides.

With a combination of stubbornness and perseverance, Chavez would like to be working in a non-governmental organisation in 10 years time, on projects that assist the private sector in developing countries.
I could see myself based in DC, travelling to international field offices, but I hesitate to get more specific than that because I have learnt that life carries you where it will.

With three years of consultancy experience and two years experience working in the retail sector, Chavez took up the challenge of an MBA already possession strong financial management experience, project management, communication and analytical skills. But there were still a few things she's wished she'd known before stepping into the classroom.

I wish that I'd known that classes weren't the only means of learning. I learnt so much about myself working in teams with my classmates. My class was international, with over 30 nationalities, so the cultural differences were vast. This was one of the main reasons that I chose ESADE, and it has proven to be a rewarding experience.

One of the best pieces of advice Chavez was given was to 'wait longer and get more work experience before going back to grad school'.

At the time I had two years of work experience, so I worked for another three years in consulting before attending school. I think those three years gave me more perspective and allowed me to contribute more in group discussions.

Her advice for future MBA candidates is to choose their program for the right reasons.
The people are what you will remember most about your MBA experience, so choose your program wisely for its culture and the people that it attracts.