Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies

Career Conversations Profile with Carrie Nguyen ’09 BA

March 24, 2021

In the most recent installment of the Career Conversations series part of the European Studies and Latin American & Iberian Studies Undergraduate Fellows networks, Yale College alumna, Carrie Nguyen ’09 BA, spoke on her journey as an undergraduate at Yale, how she discovered her academic and professional interests, and advised students interested in pursuing post-graduate opportunities in Latin America. Nguyen is currently based in Mexico City with Nubank, a FinTech startup out of Brazil that is valued at $25B with 30M+ customers.  

The Career Conversations series is a collaborative effort between CLAIS, European Studies Council, and its associated undergraduate fellows’ networks that has partnered with the Jackson Institute’s Global Health Studies program and Yale-NUS College. (View Video)

First-Generation Vietnamese American, Nguyen grew up in San Jose, California. She studied abroad twice during her time at Yale—in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Madrid, Spain respectively—claiming that these experiences “sparked a curiosity and need to continue exploring the world, understanding people from different countries cultures and languages.” Nguyen graduated in 2009 with a BA in economics and psychology, focusing on consumer choice and decision making. 

Upon graduation, Nguyen volunteered in Vietnam as an English Teacher before joining Oliver-Wyman, a management consulting firm. The international trajectory of her professional career as a consultant allowed her to continue exploring her vast cultural and linguistic interests, with her work taking her to Johannesburg and Dubai. After leaving the firm, Nguyen spent six months working for a micro-finance organization—Kiva—in Cusco Peru that was helping people living in rural Andean communities acquire financial loans. One of her roles as a volunteer was to interview those seeking a loan and to write their profiles, which were later shared on the organization’s website. 

“The people I was working to serve had such very basic dreams, the things they’re asking for things that we [in the United States] take for granted on an everyday basis– that we have access to,” Nguyen stated. “That was the experience that made me realize I really want to do work in a region where I can have a big social impact that really helps people and society get ahead.” 

Inspired by her experience in Peru, she went on to receive her MBA from the Wharton school at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was active with the Latin American student association and focused academically on the region. After graduating in 2015, Nguyen moved to Mexico City to pursue an opportunity with Amazon. After four years with company, however, she realized that “doubling down on logistics” required improving the financial infrastructure of the country. According to Nguyen, only about a quarter of citizens have a debit cards, and credit card penetration is approximately ten percent. Without the necessary financial infrastructure, many citizens do not have formal access to country’s financial system and cannot acquire things, such as a credit history—“[leaving] people behind.” 

In January 2020, Nguyen decided to move into the world of financial technology, and joined Nubank, a Brazilian-based neobank and leading financial technology company in Latin America. 

“Today my job is not just to create the PowerPoint deck but actually to build the product and put it into customers hands and when you’re at a company that ship software to 30 million customers,” Nguyen comment, “It means every day I’m making an impact on the lives of millions of customers.” 

Nguyen concluded her talk with an interactive Q&A session providing information, advice, and resources for students interested in pursuing further study or work opportunities in Latin America. 

Written by Gabriela Garcia, Yale College Class of 2023