Aiming to Make a Difference
Therese Sebastian, Eller MBA ’14
By Liz Warren-Pederson
After earning her undergraduate degree in management engineering from the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, Therese Sebastian spent three years working as a senior procurement specialist for Robinsons Retail Group, one of the largest multi-platform retail companies in the Philippines. “I was in charge of sourcing new equipment and handling service agreements for the company’s retail stores all over the Philippines,” she said.
Even with the combination of experience and a degree in management, she said, “I realized that if I want to be successful in a dynamic and increasingly uncertain business environment, I needed to get an MBA to learn more about establishing innovative ventures and develop a global perspective of current issues.”
Access to the top-ranked McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship sold Sebastian on the Eller MBA. “I also liked Eller’s small class sizes, because I felt that I would be able to learn more from in-class discussions as opposed to a large lecture-hall type classroom setting,” she said.
This summer, Sebastian is working in the sales and marketing division of Sargent Controls and Aerospace in Tucson. “I will work with the senior leadership team to help them create business plans for individual product lines,” she said.
The work is in line with her interest in innovation. “My short-term goal after obtaining my MBA is to be part of a company that develops and provides innovative solutions to society’s biggest challenges, particularly in the areas of energy, finance, and education,” she said. To that end, she is participating in the year-long McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, and is on the leadership team of the UA chapter of Net Impact.
“By participating in the club’s activities, I am able to gain real-world experience and engage in discussions related to the issues that I am passionate about,” she said. Long-term, Sebastian aims to launch and operate a company focused on providing access to basic human needs – clean water, sustainable livelihood, affordable medicine, and free education – to communities in underprivileged areas.
Sebastian is also taking advantage of the opportunities for professional development at Eller – she participated in three case competitions her first year. “Although joining these competitions required extra work on top of our already hectic schedules, I can say that it was all worth it because I was able to learn about new industries, hone my presentation skills, travel to different places, meet MBA students from other universities, and won first place (with a cash prize!) in the state-level ACG Cup Case Competition, beating teams from Thunderbird and ASU.”
The experiences harken back to another of her goals coming into the program: “I needed to hone my functional and managerial skills in a multicultural setting. Obtaining an MBA, which provides opportunities to enhance leadership skills and teamwork, is the best way to do so.”