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Valeria Strappa is an Executive MBA graduate graduate of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in the US and a senior executive at Citigroup Latin America, a global transaction services group.

Born in Argentina, Ms Strappa was a professional tennis player until the age of 19. She was second in the world ranking of under 18-year-olds and 143 in the Women’s Tennis Association. She has a degree in mechanical engineering and has attended the UCLA Anderson School of Management Women’s Leadership Institute, a three-day course helping women to release their leadership potential.

In her spare time, Ms Strappa is passionate about Ironman triathlons – she has completed two so far. She also still plays tennis occasionally and enjoys mountain climbing.

1. Who are your business heroes?

My parents because they taught me that nothing is impossible. They encouraged me to pursue my dreams and raised me with the discipline and values required to achieve high aspirations. Gandhi because he walked the talk, lead by example and influenced millions of people to make the impossible happen. Steve Jobs because he didn’t follow pre-established rules but instead created his own.

2. Who is your ideal professor?

Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook.

3. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?

When you are in a rush or under pressure, stop for a second and see your people.

4. What academic achievement are you most proud of?

I spent a summer in South Carolina developing a mobile water filtering unit that was sent by the US Air Force to Honduras after Hurricane Mitch.

5. What is your biggest lesson learnt?

It is wise to be motivated by a goal, but the energy to achieve it comes from taking the time to enjoy the intermediate accomplishments.

6. What is the strangest thing you have ever done when studying?

I climbed Iztaccihuatl, a volcano next to Mexico City, to develop my leadership strategy.

7. What advice would you give to women in business?

Believe in yourself, believe in your instincts and focus on developing and improving your own leadership style.

8. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?

I have always lived and dealt in male-dominated environments, first sports, then engineering and now as a senior executive in the banking sector. I deal with my environment by focusing only on my goals, which I achieve by partnering with the right people regardless of their sex, position or background.

9. What is the last book you read?

Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. It is the story of the Taj Mahal and the love story of the reigning emperor. My mum and I read it at the same time. Reading the book made my trip to the Taj Mahal, during a recent MBA residency, fascinating. I only regret my mum wasn’t with me.

10. What inspires you?

To have an impact on the people I meet or on the things I do. I believe that with the right motivation, we can always do more than what we imagine. This is why I love sports, because I can always break my limits and go the extra mile. I believe that nothing is impossible in life and I go after what I believe is right for me and the ones around me.

Compiled by Charlotte Clarke

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