Johanna Cardenas

Nationality: Colombian and Spanish
Job title: M&A manager at Azelis in Belgium
Previous degree: master in finance at the University of Alcalá in Spain

1. What was the main reason for you to do an MBA? 

“I was considering it for a long time, until I felt like now was the correct moment. I was looking for personal growth and the next step in my career. I wanted to explore new avenues where my skills and experience can be utilised, beyond what I have been doing over the past years. There are so many MBA options in Europe and the USA. RSM stood out because it’s an academic MBA, conveniently located, and I really liked the ambiance and the facilities that I saw on the open day. I was also impressed with the content of the programme: the Global MBA gives you a piece of what is happening around the world and helps you think differently.”

2. What expectations did you have studying for your Global Executive MBA in a world in motion?

“Leadership is not about power but about trust. You need to make sure the people working with you understand and embrace what you say. Culture plays an important role in how people work and interact. You need to adapt how you communicate to make sure the message is well-received. I went for the Global MBA because I was looking for exactly that worldly experience. The GEMBA and the diverse background and nationalities of its participants are insightful and shape you in your way of thinking. It opens your mind and helps you learn how to deal with a person context. I also learned a lot about this in our course ‘Leading and managing global organisations’.”

3. How would you describe your RSM MBA experience so far?

“It has been challenging. You must be organised and disciplined with your time. It’s a family effort. It’s essential that people around you can provide the necessary support during your GEMBA journey. I will never regret this though. It’s the best idea I ever had. I’m not even halfway through the journey, and I’ve grown so incredibly much. The GEMBA class is amazing, I feel like I have an additional family.”

4. What has been the most interesting course during the GEMBA so far?

“The marketing course was an eye-opener. I can now identify that we’re full of biases which affects how we behave and make decisions. As a leader, we have to be aware that we work with humans who subconsciously make decisions based on their experiences. Acknowledging that means you can work in your own biases as well understand how to interact with others when negotiating or selling your ideas.”

5. What impact does the Strategic Leadership Development (SLD) component of the programme have on you?

“At first I was hesitant. You think hard skills are the most important ones. But leaders need to have a combination of skills. Soft skills don’t come naturally, you need to work on those. This part of the GEMBA is a journey to develop and complement those skills so you can become a balanced leader.”

6. Has your MBA journey changed your outlook on what your career will be like after doing an MBA?

“I’m reflecting on what will be my next step. Once I finish the GEMBA I will have more clarity on what I want in the next years. Everyone in the programme is in this same position: we think about the future, and about our goals and ambitions. This is another reason I joined the MBA: to step out of my work life and invest time to figure out what I want for myself.”

7. What advice could you give to people who are considering doing a Global Executive MBA?

“Don’t think too much, just do it! I recommend talking to people who are in this journey. I got some useful tips, for example about time management. Then you know what to expect and what you can get out of it. But really, go for it. You won’t regret it!”