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Maria Katrina Volante, The Philippines

The NUS MBA Class of 2021
Job Title

Describe your personal brand.

Woman in energy. A dynamic, creative, and well-rounded individual passionately dedicated to making a positive change to the community via her contributions in the energy sector, particularly in renewables and related technologies.

What were you doing before The NUS MBA?

Prior to MBA, I worked as a Corporate Strategy Associate for the Manila Electric Company, the largest private electric power distribution utility in the Philippines, for almost seven years. I was heavily involved in formulating strategies and plans for high impact, cross-functional programmes such as smart grid and smart cities. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communications engineering from the University of the Philippines.

Why did you pick NUS?

Experts say that the global economic centre of gravity is shifting towards the East, and so I believe it would be strategic for me to gain more exposure and establish my professional network in this region. Within Asia, NUS was the best choice for me given its excellent reputation, rigorous curriculum, and stellar alumni network. In addition, it is strategically located in Singapore, the world’s most competitive economy, where several multinational corporations operate and a vibrant, multicultural society lives.

Please share your key achievements and leadership roles on the programme.

What has been the single most stand-out experience of your MBA?

Receiving the prestigious Graduate Business Forum Student Leadership Award (SLA) in recognition of my achievements as first female president of The NUS MBA Energy Club has been one of the key highlights of my MBA journey so far — of my entire life even! The SLA is conferred to students at the graduate business level who have exemplified leadership, innovation, and commitment within the business school community and beyond. Being selected as the sole awardee from a large pool of nominees from the top business schools worldwide was euphoric. It was truly a great honour for me to raise the NUS flag up high and to showcase our activities at the Energy Club to the international business school community.

Tell me something about The NUS MBA that others might not know.

While a rigorous academic curriculum forms an integral part of The NUS MBA programme, equal emphasis is also given to experiential learning and holistic development. NUS MBA students are given countless opportunities to enhance their leadership potential (via the student council), gain industry exposure (via the MBA Consulting Project, company visits, networking sessions), give back to the community (via charity programmes), and immerse themselves in the global business environment (via study trips, case competitions). There is indeed so much more to learn and experience outside the classroom!

Who is your personal hero? What is it about him/her that you admire?

My dad has always served as my inspiration and benchmark for success. He is in the development management sector focusing on technical and vocational education and training, rural economics, and community development. He has done extensive consultancy work for different organisations including the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and the International Labour Organization in developing countries all over the world. His grassroots approach in making the world a better place is very much admirable, and I am hoping I could achieve even just a small fraction of what he has accomplished so far. He always keeps me grounded but, at the same time, inspires me to achieve greater things in life.

Where do you see yourself in 5 - 10 years’ time?

Moving forward, I would like to focus more on the cleantech and renewables space, enabling businesses achieve next-level growth by launching new products, penetrating new markets, and more. Outside my day-to-day job, I also hope to be more involved in activities that have a social impact on the wider community and be a mentor to young people who are treading the same path as I did. Above all, I hope that by then, I would have inspired several women to take leadership roles in the energy industry; influenced high potential individuals from developing countries like the Philippines to explore the world via further studies or work assignment; and encouraged young children to dream big and reach greater heights.

What advice would you give to other MBA aspirants?

Prior to applying for an MBA, make sure you have a clear understanding on why you want to pursue it and what you want to get out of it. Do you want to expand your network? Switch industries? Acquire new skills? This will help you in finding the right programme and in tailoring your MBA experience going forward. As you apply for an MBA, keep in mind that it is not just about what the programme can do for you, but also about what you can offer to the business school community. It is a two-way street. Hence, it is important that you stay authentic and be aware of what makes you a unique and valuable member of the cohort.

Lastly, once you get into an MBA, be like a sponge — soak it all in and make the most out of it! Step out of your comfort zone, push boundaries, and rediscover yourself every day. You will be surprised by how much you will be transformed by the entire experience.

To learn more about The NUS MBA experience,
download a brochure, or attend an event.