Draper University Alumni Spotlight: Maria Fernanda Gandara Gil
María Fernanda Gandara Gil is currently founder of Wrk-in and a Civil Society Advisor at UN Women. She is also a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum and attended Draper University’s Hero Training program in 2013.
Draper University: Where are you from?
Maria: Mexico City, Mexico
Draper University: How did you hear about Draper University?
Maria: Since a very young age, I wanted to focus my career on social impact until I realized that in order to scale impact in a short period of time I would need technology. It was then that I saw a Bloomberg article about a crazy and unconventional school for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. When I read it I knew I had to be there! I joined Draper University in 2013. It was the perfect time to make technology part of my path and to bring the learnings back to Mexico’s rising startup ecosystem.
Draper University: What was your most memorable experience at Draper?
Maria: Survival week. I learned so many important things about life and about being an entrepreneur in a very unexpected way and in a short period of time.
Draper University: What was the most important thing you learned at Draper University?
Maria: Being fearless, removing every structure from my head and having fun in the journey. Also I learned that I had a home in Silicon Valley and whenever it was the right time to restart my entrepreneurship journey I could always come back.
Draper University: How does having gone to Draper help you in your current occupation?
Maria: Draper University changes you for life. Once you have been there, there is no going back. Every day you will remember that you can break the rules, that you have everything you need to face any challenge and that it doesn’t matter if you fail. Draper University has been a great foundation on which I am building the person I am today as Founder of Wrk–In.
Maria: At Wrk–in we make it easy for companies and individuals to do the work they love from remote locations where they can recharge and get inspired. We curate the most unique and uplifting portfolio of remote work experiences for the digital workforce. We believe in a future of work, where employees work and at the same time also have the chance to grow as people, experience new things and explore the world. With our experiences we provide companies a perk that will help them have happier, more productive, more creative and more energized workers, and a solution to retain millennial talent. We are launching our first experiences in the most amazing locations soon! You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and www.wrk-in.com.
Draper University: What are some things that you learned about yourself through Draper that you did not know before you joined the program?
Maria: At Draper University, I realized that my need for breaking the status quo and having a big impact in people’s lives has been with me since I was a child. When I was there, I remembered that every Christmas I used to write Santa Claus to ask him for a job in the North Pole in order to change children’s lives.
Draper University: Who are some people you still keep in touch with that you met at Draper?
Maria: Three years after finishing the Hero Training I came back to Draper University to start a new stage in my journey. I was excited to see once again Tim Draper, Andy Tang, Rock, Gina Kloes, Carol Lo and many of the first members of the staff. I also had the pleasure to meet the new ones, I got mentorship from Jack Saba and Juan Acosta. I also had the chance to reunite with some of the Alumni.
Draper University: What advice would you give to incoming students so that they can take full advantage of the program?
Maria: Have an open mind and an open heart to receive all of the learnings. Have fun and live it to the fullest.