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A New Citizen Finally at Home

Kellogg alum Nicolas Rivelis shares how his MBA experience changed his life trajectory.

MND Nico Rivelis
Nicolas RivelisImage: Illustration by Bruce Morser

By Nicolas Rivelis
Winter 2023
My Northwestern Direction

In February 2022, my wife, Marina, and I stood up together in Welsh-Ryan Arena, took an oath, and became U.S. citizens right here at Northwestern — where our story in this country started more than a decade ago.  

When we moved from Buenos Aires to Evanston in the fall of 2009 for my MBA, it was not our plan to stay in the U.S. after I graduated. Yet, after more than 12 years, here we are, living just 30 minutes from the Evanston campus and proudly continuing to give back to the Northwestern community.  

From the very beginning, being a student at the Kellogg School of Management was transformative for me, both personally and professionally. During Kellogg’s immersive Culture Is Made (CIM) student orientation experience, we learned about the school’s culture and values and student life. I did not expect to spend my first two weeks of business school doing team-building activities and memorizing the names of all 60 members in my section. But that time allowed me to build strong bonds with my classmates and helped us build a culture of trust and collaboration from the get-go.  

My MBA experience also allowed me to significantly change my career trajectory. I have a background in management consulting, but I decided to try something completely different and took on a marketing and strategy role in pharmaceuticals for my summer internship. Being part of a culture that placed the patient front and center as the focus of everything we did was a profound experience.  

“It was not our plan to stay in the U.S. after I graduated. Yet, after more than 12 years, here we are, living just 30 minutes from the Evanston campus.”

After graduation I took a role in a commercial leadership program — a two-year rotational program for high-potential MBA graduates to experience different roles across commercial divisions — and have worked in health care ever since. In my more than 10 years in the industry, I’ve been part of remarkable teams, and I’m proud to have led the launches for several products that can have a positive effect on patients’ lives.  

Through all these years, I’ve remained involved with the University. As a recipient of Kellogg’s F.C. Austin Scholarship, I learned the importance of giving back to Northwestern. I have participated several times as a judge in the annual Kellogg Biotech and Healthcare Case Competition and regularly attend on-campus conferences and events.  

My roles with pharmaceutical companies’ commercial leadership programs have allowed me to stay connected with Northwestern students, assist in recruitment and coach several interns. And for the past several years, I have been a career adviser at the Kellogg Career Management Center, helping many students transition into marketing or commercial leadership roles at many of the world’s leading health care companies.   

My wife’s life also changed through this experience. When I came to the U.S. to pursue my MBA, she moved with me and participated in on-campus activities with Kellogg’s Joint Ventures and Latin American clubs. After giving birth to our son Benjamin, she pursued her MBA at Indiana University and became a real estate adviser.  

Northwestern and Kellogg have been a constant thread in our lives. As I reflect on our journey, I am grateful for the impact the University has had on our family. It was an emotional moment for both of us to become citizens right here at Northwestern and in Evanston, where we built a life together — a place that feels like home.   

Nicolas Rivelis 11 MBA is associate director of U.S. oncology marketing at Astellas Pharma. He and his family live in Lake Bluff, Ill.

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