Name: Ana De La Guardia
Year of Graduation: 2017
Country of Residence: United Kingdom
Current Employer: AB InBev
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you’re doing now?
I am from Pamplona Spain, but I lived abroad most of my life. Before my MBA I did management consulting for 4 years at BCG and after the MBA I was hired as a candidate of the Global MBA Program of AB Inbev (ABI). It is my 3rd year with the company!
Currently, I’m the product owner of Mike’s Hard Seltzer. What this means in ABI context is that I am like a founder of a small startup. I’m launching Mike’s Hard Seltzer in the UK with the backup of ABI under the ZX Venture team, the part of the company which works like a venture capital firm and launches new innovations.
Why did you decide to do your MBA?
I was happy at BCG, but I felt I had yet to find my passion. I also wanted something more tangible, to be able to see what happens after you deliver the PPT and execute the plans. So, I did my MBA to discover a job that would make me happy every day and also to help me take a step back and reflect on what I wanted in life.
Why did you choose IESE?
I did my undergraduate at the University of Navarra and I love the education that they provided, I also knew alumni who went to IESE. The school met all my requirements, it was a business school which attracted top talent. It had people who when I met for interviews or discussions, I wanted them to be a part of my life – I felt that I belonged there. I also knew that it would open a lot of career opportunities as it is a target school for many top hiring companies. For example, ABI recruits in very few schools in Europe, and IESE is one of them. Finally, I wanted to stay in Europe and build my network here. IESE would allow me to do that.
How did your IESE MBA help you transition from your previous role at BCG to AB Inbev?
Firstly, it gave me a trampoline – it is impossible to have access to a program like this unless you come from a top business school. It also opened my mind. If someone told me five years ago that I would be working in a beer company in Belgium, I wouldn’t have believed them! The 2nd year students and the alumni helped significantly by giving their input, guiding and preparing me through the interview process for ABI. The human part of IESE is amazing, the quality & willingness of people to help each other out is one of the best things about this school.
Coming back to the actual transition, during my internship I was able to secure a role in marketing which was a challenging transition coming from a consulting background. Most recruiters would have wanted to keep you in strategy, which I didn’t want to do. The internship helped me to get my hands dirty with tangible work and I really enjoyed it.
Looking back, how do you think the IESE MBA has impacted you personally and as a leader professionally?
In the beginning of the MBA, during the personality assessment that we had to do, it was highlighted to me that I come across to people as being ‘quite aggressive’ which I was not aware of. Working with my team, I learnt how to work with people who were as smart or smarter than me but had different working styles and backgrounds. This has helped me today because I understand the value of diversity in opinion and styles for problem solving. It taught me how to work better with people who are not like myself, a skill you need in any international company. Professionally, the MBA helped open my eyes to different opportunities through the Career Forum & talking to my fellow classmates about their backgrounds. I felt more equipped to choose a new path, very different from what I would have thought.
In my second year I also focused a lot on developing my soft skills. I became aware of the kind of leader I was and the kind of leader I wanted to be. There are a lot of elective courses that help you get there.
Do you have any recent examples of how your MBA training has helped you in your work?
Definitely in negotiation! I remember I took a course on that as sometimes I can be blunt and transparent which while negotiating isn’t that great! Last year when I was internally interviewing for this current position, those negotiating skills came in handy. I used some of the tips and techniques I learnt in that course to identify better with the interviewer and to be able to get that I wanted. I have also been in tough positions with potential partners where you must negotiate budgets and deliverables (with the budget cuts it’s is not a pleasant situation!) However, I have become pretty good at it – thanks to the skills I learnt at IESE.
Finally, what is your favorite part of the MBA?
The people I met, it is amazing the strength of the connections you develop in those 2 years. There is a huge bonding that happens and lasts with your MBA friends well after the 2 years are over.
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