Job title: Regional Finance Director for Latin America, Southern and Eastern Europe
"The MBA is a well-known qualification within the company. RSM is an establishment which has a very strong reputation within Unilever known for its high-quality programmes and graduates."
1. Is the MBA a well-known degree in your company?
The MBA is a well-known qualification within the company. RSM is an establishment which has a very strong reputation within Unilever known for its high-quality programmes and graduates.
2. How is the OneMBA impacting your current work at Unilever?
My role covers many international markets, including mature, developing and emerging markets. This provides me with a diverse range of challenges in a very dynamic environment. The broadness of the OneMBA scope and its relevance to doing business in a global context complements my role. It has enabled me to think about business challenges in distinctly different markets with a broader perspective and more focused execution. I’m achieving a better understanding of the role local culture plays in business, which in turn has helped me build stronger relationships with my teams and colleagues in different locations.
3. What is the Return on Investment (ROI) you expect from the OneMBA?
The returns for me are about personal growth in both my personal and professional life. The value of interacting and working closely on assignments with classmates from all walks of life, and listening to their views and perspectives, challenge me to reflect on my own views and thought process. The OneMBA provides a mix of theoretical learning, improved understanding of corporate strategy and gives external orientation. You can get tunnel vision when working in a large multinational for more than 15 years. The exposure to a wider set of business models, industries and viewpoints has added perspective and depth to my thinking.
4. What expectations do you and your employer have about how your OneMBA will benefit the company?
Investment in people is a core value in Unilever and quite simply the external orientation and wider perspective will contribute to my development to being a better leader making better decisions for the organisation.
5. How has the OneMBA impacted your professional life so far? Is it true that you get immediate applicable knowledge?
The impact has been positive and immediate. Two areas I can immediately highlight are Leading and Managing Global Organisations (LAMGO), and Operations. I gained a deeper appreciation of the challenges faced by operations, which is particularly relevant to the fast-moving consumer goods industry. In addition, given the geographical scope of my role, the cultural insights have really enabled me to build stronger relationships.
6. Do you notice different cultural approaches to working within global teams?
This is very clear and distinct for me. Working within global teams is integral to my day-to-day role and the OneMBA global assignments have further reinforced the different cultural approaches that I experience operationally. It’s important to embrace the differences as this diversity of approach usually strengthens the outcome. The LAMGO course provides valuable theoretical insight into these cultural differences and has really helped me to understand and adapt my approach in quite a few circumstances resulting in positive outcomes.
7. With your very busy schedule, how do you manage the cross-continental projects that you are doing with an international team?
It’s not straight forward. I have to accommodate up to six time zones and juggle my professional and private commitments around scheduled meetings. As a team it forces us to quickly establish what works for us and individually one prioritises more and becomes more efficient.
8. Have you enjoyed the Global Residencies so far?
They have been brilliant. It’s a chance to connect, reconnect and have fun with not only your global team, but also with the entire OneMBA peer group. Despite being in a virtual and global environment, there’s no substitute for face to face contact. It enhances the communication, enables bonds to be built and friendships to prosper. In addition, the invited business leaders and academics help us picture and put into perspective the political, social and economic landscape of the local region. This generates engaging and lively discussions. The insights and learnings from these sessions are thought-provoking and provide an additional dimension to the programme.
9. RSM’s values include Sustainability, Innovation, Critical Thinking and Spirit. How have you found these values expressed through the OneMBA?
Sustainability: Sustainability has been one of the core pillars of the syllabus. In today’s environment, CSR including sustainability runs through most corporations and the OneMBA consistently highlights examples of how this is incorporated in company strategies. The debates among classmates on the relative merits of each of these initiatives have also been a source of valuable learning.
Innovation: Innovation and its importance to driving a business forward and creating value is very much emphasised and analysed in the OneMBA business cases that we study. We are left in no doubt that to compete and flourish, innovation is key.
Critical thinking: Whether it’s our classroom sessions, case studies or assignments, we very quickly get into high-energy interactions and healthy debates. I enjoy the fact that we have a room full of experienced professionals with strong opinions. It generates dynamic discussions with different viewpoints and ensures that you need to be on your toes.
Spirit: My classmates are the spirit of the OneMBA. Their energy, enthusiasm and passion have been inspiring.
10. What has been the best part of OneMBA for you so far?
It’s a combination of comradery, teamwork, friendships, external orientation and insights. The relevance of the programme in the global environment we operate is proving invaluable.
11. After the OneMBA, what does the future hold?
To continue to live with passion with the best years still ahead of me.