José Miguel Polanco

Nationality: American, Ecuadorian and Peruvian
Age: 29
Last job title: sales development supervisor at Mary Kay Peru
Previous degree: bachelor in sports journalism from Oklahoma State University

1. Why did you choose to go back to school for an MBA?  

“I transitioned from journalism to sales in a multinational company, and felt like I missed key elements of the business world. An MBA will help me catch up. I can combine it with my other experiences, and it will raise my profile. Several of my family members completed an MBA too, including my father. RSM’s location and timing were perfect for me. I liked the Netherlands as a tourist when I was younger, and I just took a gap year backpacking through 14 countries. It all just came together so well.” 

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

“I went to an international school, and it feels very familiar here. The diversity among classmates and the mix of professors – they’re from everywhere. I love it. Everything we do in class is about current affairs and real-world situations. We learn to think fast and change strategies in a way that we can apply our learnings in the real business. It’s an incredible experience. I’m able to grow a lot as a person and I’m a more all-rounded professional with more knowledge I didn’t have. Unfortunately, the year is flying by.” 

3. What has been the most challenging assignment or course during the MBA? 

“I was terrified of the numbers. I was a journalist before, and wasn’t familiar with quantitative problematic business matters. Luckily I have very supportive and excellent peers who helped and tutored me through it.” 

4. In what way has the Personal Leadership Development programme (PLD) affected you?  

“I didn’t expect the great impact it has on me. It’s been vital. It’s an introspective way of looking at myself, giving me a different point of view of my life and career. It’s made me think about my behaviour and way of doing things. I want to apply these learning to myself as a professional.” 

5. How are you planning to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals through business? 

“Before coming to RSM, I’d hardly heard of them. They resonate with me. If I go back to a multinational company, then my employer needs to align with the goals. If they don’t, then it won’t feel right. I could also do my own thing in Latin America, then I might work in education or at my family’s farm in Ecuador to make the farming more sustainable. This really hasn’t caught on there yet.” 

6. How have you utilised the alumni network so far? 

“Before joining RSM, I spoke to several MBA alumni from here. It was an integral part in my choice for RSM. I’m now active in social events to expand my social circle. It’s a segway of how references go and a win-win situation: you make friends and it might lead to business opportunities too. Once I start looking for job opportunities, I’ll utilize it more. We can help each other and we have something in common, it’s a great system.”  

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

“Look for a programme that aligns with your values. Many MBA schools highlight quality and education. But it’s not just about rankings. I saw the RSM brochures and webpages and saw it right away. Doing good for the world just feels right. Think about what makes you tick, and that will help you grow personally and professionally.” 

8. Has your MBA journey changed your outlook on your career?  

“Yes, 110%! I had a narrow view, and assumed I’d go back to working for a multinational company. RSM’s career development team showed me all the paths I could take. There are so many opportunities I can take. This has calmed me down and given me confidence. I learned that there are many different ways of getting to a place of personal happiness and a work situation where you’re in your element.”  

9. What does the future hold for you? 

“Great question! It’s hard to predict the future. Life is going to take you to different places, and you need to use your skills and knowledge to make the best of it. I would love to stay in Europe and work in sales, marketing or communications for several years. After that, I might want to move to Latin America where I feel the happiest. I want to make a positive impact over there with my new skills and knowledge.”