Ivanna Zbrutska

Nationality: Ukrainian
Age: 31
Job: Business development consultant and trade representative in Chongqing, China
Previous degree: Master degree in linguistics from Kyiv National Linguistics University

1. Why did you decide to do an MBA at RSM?

“The MBA curriculum corresponded to my future career objectives. I wanted to gain business knowledge and skills to pursue a senior management position in the public or private sector. I see myself working in an international company using my communication and foreign language skills. I also wanted a link back to Europe, after many years of working as a business development consultant for a manufacturing company and trade representative for the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, both in Chongqing, China.”

2. What’s your RSM MBA experience during the Covid-19 pandemic like?

“I needed two months to get back into the pace of school. I’m happy with the content of the programme and love the readings and cases. The biggest challenge has been not to meet classmates in person. But we’ve learned so much about digital networking. I’ve met a third of the class in person but I keep high hopes that we will still do networking events this year, and in the future as well. My classmates feel like great colleagues who will stay in my life in the future too.”

3. What has been the biggest adjustment for you, living in the Netherlands?

“I love it, especially the Dutch biking lifestyle. Kyiv is heavily polluted, so it’s nice to cycle in Rotterdam with the fresh air and the great infrastructure. I’m a city person and Rotterdam is great. You can also meet so many students from Erasmus University Rotterdam. It’s a huge window internationally to get access to student associations, clubs and events.”

4. What has been the most challenging assignment or course so far?

“I have good soft skills because of my prior job, so I wanted to advance my analytical, managerial and leadership skills and enhance my quantitative background. I’m learning about marketing and business development too. In the electives we can choose subjects such as foundations of management, practice of management. This can shape me greatly and be a leverage for my career. I don’t have a strong mathematics background though, so quantitative subjects like ‘applied business statistics’ are challenging. It’s hard for the majority of students. We managed by collaborating with the team and reaching out to classmates who were really good at it.”

5. How has the Personal Leadership Development programme (PLD) affected you?

“It’s a bright sparkle in the curriculum. You have observers and get feedback. You also develop closer relationships with classmates. Usually, the observers come from your coaching circle or study team so you create a bond on a personal level. I’ve already seen changes in me to become a better individual and improve as a leader. One of the task-oriented things I want to work on is to become a faster reader so I can read reports and help team members understand things quicker.”

6. If you had to choose one Sustainable Development Goal, which one would you choose, and why?

“SDG 7: affordable and clean energy. By implementing SDG 7, we also influence 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and 13 (climate action). I worked as an interpreter for Ukraine’s biggest private energy enterprise. During the negotiations with an engineering company from China we talked about a huge power plant. It sparked my interest in green energy and sustainability. Renewables and sustainability in Ukraine is lagging behind. If I didn’t succeed in finding a job in Western Europe, then I’d consider a job at the energy enterprise in Ukraine so I could become a leader towards sustainability.”

7. Has your MBA journey changed your outlook on what your career will be like after the MBA?

“Definitely: it has shown me opportunities in industries I didn’t consider. Before, I only concentrated on marketing and business development. Now I’m thinking about working at technology companies such as Amazon. I also learned about international companies that operate within the Netherlands, thanks to RSM Clubs and RSM Career Centre events in which you have direct contact with professionals who work there.

Another thing: after eight years of work experience, I wanted to go straight into a full-time position. Now I feel like an internship during the MBA will be a valuable experience to explore a new industry. I didn’t look at logistics and supply chain before but now I’m more open to it. An internship opportunity can give me more flexibility into my choices for future work.”

8. What advice could you give to people who are considering doing an MBA?

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who you haven’t met before, for example RSM alumni. They can give you valuable advice. I’m really happy to be part of the RSM community, and pleasantly surprised by everyone’s willingness to help and guide – at events and via platforms like LinkedIn. Learning from someone who has been there can help you make your decision. I spoke to a Ukrainian alumnus, and her passion about the programme and how it helped in her career path really inspired me to start this journey.”