Would you be a switcher, an entrepreneur or a triple jumper? We caught up with Cambridge MBA alumni, from the class of 2017/18, at their recent graduation day and asked them about their post-MBA job and how they secured their outcomes.
The triple jumper – Gavin Chen (USA)
Gavin Chen made the famed ‘triple jump’: he moved from a finance background into the cyber security sector. He has also changed location from China to the USA. Cybersecurity is “blowing up right now”, he says, and he is blazing a trail developing new markets and strategies across this burgeoning industry sector.
Gavin networked from the start, using his MBA year as an opportunity to develop a wide-ranging group of future contacts in his chosen sector. He worked with the Cambridge MBA Careers team from the outset, searching the online jobs portal only available to current students.
The social impact entrepreneur – Chiara Kunnie (South Africa)
Chiara works in business development for her South African employer, Praekelt.org, a technology company building solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in poverty. Her Cambridge MBA year allowed her to explore different career opportunities and to discover what path was right for her. Interested in the ‘Tech for Good’ space, she not only attended and networked in this sector during her MBA year, but also organised events across the wider University community that centered around the digital health and social impact sector.
The strategist and switcher – Michael Virk (Canada)
Michael Virk moved from Toronto to London, and from an operations to a more strategic marketing role with Harry’s. He worked closely with the Cambridge MBA Career team to define his career goals and to work out exactly what type of role and what type of company he wanted to be in. “The MBA really taught me how to structure complex problems and to work with ambiguity a lot better than I had been able to before.”
The specific project work across the MBA year such as the Cambridge Venture Project and the Global Consulting Project allowed him to make connections in London and grow his network, which was exceptionally useful as he made his career transition.
The on-campus recruit – Jack Lancaster (Australia)
Jack connected with Boston Consulting Group during an on-campus visit and presentations at Cambridge Judge. He built on this connection and was successful in securing a role in his home country of Australia. A wide range of employers visit the Business School each year and BCG, McKinsey and Microsoft are some of our top employers in recent years.
“The MBA Career team were sensational while I was here. They helped me with the application to BCG, but also offered a number of different resources, from on-campus recruiting through to the coaching services that they offer. As I got close to the interview final rounds with BCG, they connected me with School alumni who had been in similar roles”.
The dynamic team leader – Vaidehi Bhatia (India)
Vaidehi, originally from India, was recruited by Unilever very early in the MBA programme. She says that the MBA Career team became ‘my rock’ throughout the year, working through her essays and CVs as well as discussing interview techniques and how to negotiate her offer – “they were constantly guiding me through”. She has moved job function and location after her MBA, but with the same company. She had always worked in Asia beforehand so was keen to work in a developed market in Europe.
She identifies the ‘softer skills’ as key skills that she has taken away from her MBA year.
“I now lead a team of 11 people from diverse global backgrounds and so it has been exceedingly important to have empathy and understanding of people”. She also values the finance skills and the basic accounting and corporate finance elements of the MBA – she now asks “Why are we doing this project? What is the profit reason behind it?”
The sector switcher – Thales de Paula (Brazil)
Thales has made a big switch out of the financial services sector, where he had spent his whole career working as a Portfolio Manager in investment management in Brazil. Post-MBA, he moved to the World Economic Forum – a very different type of organisation from what he’s used to, with very different objectives.
“My career switch was really as big as it can be. I think the MBA itself really helped me prepare and develop a number of skills that I definitely required for this career transition”.
He recommends keeping an open mind throughout the MBA journey; “The Cambridge MBA really taught me how to work with a very diverse set of individuals with very diverging views.”
The entrepreneur – Katherine Rock (Australia)
Katherine came to Cambridge from a top tier intellectual property firm in Australia. “But I always had an inkling that I would like to start my own firm one day”. She is now Founder and Director at Patent Flare in Brisbane, a firm specialising in technology commercialization.
“Although I had plans to start my own business on return to Australia, I came to Cambridge with an open mind and made the most of every opportunity and met as many people from different backgrounds as I could. The networks and the knowledge across the Business School and the wider Colleges was invaluable”.
She explains, “Owning a start-up, you need every skill under the sun. The skills I have used from my MBA include the necessary hard skills, but it is the softer skills that have really come to the fore the most”.
Michael Virk reminds those starting their MBA career journey to –
Start your MBA thinking more generally about your career goals rather than focusing on one specific company or role. There are a lot of opportunities throughout the MBA to try different things and get exposure to new industries and projects. Overall, keep an open mind and be flexible.Michael Virk (MBA 2017)
You can watch the videos of alumni talking about their career transitions on our Vimeo channel.