Daniel: Hi, I’m Daniel Torres Dwyer and welcome to the LS International’s “Career Success Podcast”. Having an MBA is a common place for many senior executives we speak with. We actually, like to focus more on careers than the academic background but it is something that of course we don’t completely ignore. As someone who doesn’t have an MBA, I am curious to understand what is the value behind it, and why it makes sense at some point in our careers? To understand this further I’ve invited Fabio Gabaldo. Fabio is an experienced retail executive who’s worked with the likes of Walmart, FNAC, and currently with Magazine Luiza, who is the leader in electronic retail in Brazil. He took a Global MBA in IESE and has always been very positive about it, so I wanted to invite him to understand this further. Hi Fabio, thanks for joining us today! How are you?
Fabio: Hi Daniel! Thank you! My pleasure to join this podcast, I hope I can contribute to the topic!
Daniel: I’m sure you can, well it is about MBA’s. You did one not long ago, really interested on your point of view on it, so let’s get to it. First of all Fabio, why did you decide to take an MBA?
Fabio: Well, this is a very good question. There were a couple of reasons. The first one, is that I felt like I had to improve some technical skills, such as strategic vision, financial analysis, also be able to read and understand a P&L of a company and be able to understand the business as a whole. For instance, how does everything connect in an organization, how the strategy of the company reflects on everything it does and the final outcome, the economic and financial result of the strategy of the marketing plans… everything the company does.
The second one, is that I wanted to disrupt myself, I wanted to acquire new practices, new experiences and a new way to look at business and also life as whole. To be exposed to an international MBA, for instance brings us a lot of glances in aspects of culture and life itself.
Finally, the third one is that I always aimed to leverage my career internationally. I always loved to know new cultures and have an experience abroad. So that is the reason I decide to take this Global Executive MBA at IESE in Spain.
Daniel: What attracted you of this particular program?
Fabio: I was searching a lot to be honest, before joining an MBA so I considered many schools and many programs, and what attracted me the most, first is the content of the programme itself. I think the Global Executive MBA is aimed to develop General Managers and gives the alumni a vision of the business as a whole, as I mentioned before, so marketing, HR, finance, strategy, IT and how everything connects on the organization. There are also, some disciplines in the course which attracted me a lot, such as entrepreneurship. This impressed me a lot because you can look at different perspectives both for career and also you can think about new ventures for your current company, the current organization you work at. So, we learned about how to make the financial of a new venture, how to aim for investors… You are exposed to lessons in Silicon Valley with experienced entrepreneurs, for instance we went through seven rounds of investments (min 3:30) and how they built the business plan to reach there, so this was very, very impressive.
Another thing that attracted me to the program was the level of seniority of the students. The average age of the participants was 39 years old, so very experienced guys, and most part of them had more than 10 years of management experience. This is also something that brings a lot of value to the program.
I think the third fact that attracted me was that IESE is between the TOP 10 Business Education Schools in Europe and Worldwide. It has been ranked 1st in Executive Education by Financial Times on the last three years. This is also something that brings a lot of value to the curriculum.
Finally, I think the broad and global scope of the program with modules all around the world such as NY, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Barcelona, Germany, recently I knew they added Nigeria and Africa to the program, so you can see by yourself, locally how business is progressing, and the many aspects of each culture and how they apply to business.
Daniel:And now in hindsight, what has it been two years since you finished the MBA?
Fabio: Yes, it is almost three years, well actually three years, I finished in 2015 yeah.
Daniel: Wow, time flies.
Fabio: Yes, time flies.
Daniel: And in hindsight what do you think have been the most positive aspects?
Fabio: I think the first, the teaching methodology is based in many case studies, and I think that is a very positive aspect of it, I think it makes you enter the classes very well prepared otherwise you would not be able to absorb the lessons. So, you really learn the technical skills, and also they have a very strong faculty so, the methodology and the faculty helps you to really learn about the things that you are applying in the program.
Also I think, what it brings after this three years is a strong global network and also, friends, the friends you make all around the world when you take an MBA program.
I could also mention the different cultures and how them reflect on business. One example I would like to give to the ones that are thinking of enrolling to a program like this is China. When you visit China one of the modules was in China. We had, for instance, supply chain. And we know that China today is the big center of supply chain that supplies to all the industries al around the world. So, yes, be there! Know how to make business there and take in the aspects of the local culture, and experience it by yourself, it is completely different than studying in a book or watching a video, you are experiencing it in person, you experience it live. This really has a lot of value.
Daniel: And, the negative aspects of doing an MBA?
Fabio: Well, actually I am a really big fan of the MBA Daniel, so it is really difficult to…
Daniel: Hahaha, a bit bias then.
Fabio: Hahaha, yes, absolutely I am kind of biased. I am not sure if this can be said as a negative aspect, but fur sure the program is very demanding, it is very difficult to cope with a regular job and a program like this. It is like you should be prepared to kind of “abandon” your social life during the course of the program. Long hours of study, very difficult to conciliate agendas with other students all around the globe, you spend many hours studying and working, be prepared to have several no sleeping nights during the course of the program.
Dani:So, along these lines, how did you cope with the MBA while having a demanding full-time job?
Fabio: Yes, yes, this is a very good question and it is always important to clarify, for those who are want to join the program. Well, actually, I kind of mentioned it in the previous one, but one thing I forgot to mention that is very, very important, you should put your wife and family on board with the program, you should be very clear with them on how demanding it is going to be. You will probably have, like I said, a challenge to cope with your social life, so you´ll have several hours of work during the weekends, you’ll have to wake up very early in the morning to conciliate the agendas. I think I would also give another advise thinking to join: take your wife with you to some modules so you´ll be sure she gets on board on the program, because she is going to visit different places and she´ll be happy to travel and do some shopping while you study, for sure you are going to gain her sponsorship with the program hahah.
Daniel: Yes, and that is actually useful advice we give to our candidates, that in any business decision it is really important to have the family or the partner or whoever it is they are sharing their life with to be on board with them. So that makes sense.
Fabio: You are right, absolutely! Makes total sense, it is a family decision, right? You are joining an MBA to improve your career, maybe you may live in another country because you may be leveraging your exposition to a global network, like I said, that is why it is very important to have your family on board with the decision.
Daniel: Yeah, absolutely! What value has the MBA added to you after you have finished?
Fabio: A lot of value, like I said. I improve technical skills such as strategic vision, ability to read and understand a P&L, I also after the Global Executive MBA I improved my total compensation, I was hired by a previous company I had worked in the past, with a bigger salary than the current one I had while doing the GEMBA, a global network of business like I said, and most important friends. I usually say to some colleagues that everywhere I go in Europe I might find a GEMBA friend. For instance, I had gone to Germany and Rome, in Italy, for business and I met my friends there. So, we had time to go for a lunch or for a dinner, to update things and talk about business worldwide, so this really is something that has a lot of value.
Daniel: That is great! After hearing your mostly positive feedback on the MBA, maybe it comes without saying, but let me ask you explicitly, would you recommend doing an MBA?
Fabio: Absolutely! For sure! For all the reasons I mentioned before in this podcast, I would end it by saying that more than a professional experience, the Global Executive MBA is a life experience that is really, really worth living. I truly recommend being part of this experience!
Daniel: Ok, well that is clear. I think that the listeners will appreciate your insight. Thanks a lot Fabio for joining us today, I appreciate it!
Fabio: Well, you are very welcome! Thank you very much!
Daniel: And thanks to our listeners as well and see you in the next edition of the “Career Success Podcast”! Have a great day!