Name: Jeffrey Leung
Year of Graduation: 2020
Nationality: Hong Kong SAR
Country of Residence: Switzerland
Current Employer: Novartis
As a young child from Hong Kong, my parents always taught my sister and I the values different cultures bring, as well as the importance of understanding and adopting practices that would improve our quality of life and help us achieve our goals. This had a profound impact on how we sought education, travelled, and subsequently pursued professional careers. That was also why I joined LVMH after finishing my first degree, a global conglomerate where interactions and responsibilities go far beyond borders. In my 4.5 years with the company, I had the opportunity to work in multiple divisions alongside people from all corners of the world.
The different areas of functional exposure at LVMH brought me a general management mindset with a focus in Finance, and while I had begun thinking about furthering my studies after my Bachelor’s degree, I wanted to enrich my professional experience before I took that step. I therefore focused on my career at LVMH, with the goal of becoming a successful business executive at a multinational company.
After a few years of professional work, however, I decided it was time to broaden my horizon and continue my studies – specifically by pursuing an MBA, which fit all the criteria I was looking for in an advanced degree. IESE stood out amongst the business schools due to their teaching methodology (case method), international class body (55 different nationalities), and strong focus on business ethics. Looking back, it was a life-changing experience in every aspect. During the span of my MBA, I lived in three countries, changed industry, made friends with 350 like-minded fellow MBA candidates – the list goes on.
I was also interested in experiencing life in the United States; and so immensely appreciated IESE’s relationship with numerous reputable business schools, which gave me the opportunity to spend a semester abroad at the Chicago Booth School of Business. Not only was I impressed by the academic rigor amongst the class and the faculty, but also the breadth and depth of contribution from fellow MBA candidates in the classroom – highlighting yet again the importance of case method in business studies. Outside of class, I was able to experience the unique Chicagoan culture (think deep-dish pizza, cross-cultural quarters, Blue Chicago and many more).
Going into IESE, I had always planned to continue building my Finance career post-MBA. I was simultaneously looking to accelerate my career, change geography (to Europe), and experience a new industry. The Career Development Center at IESE helped me tremendously in achieving that goal – guiding me through intensive self-reflection sessions and basing the job search on my strong suits and interests, strategizing with the derived insight.
As IESE has excellent relationships with countless large employers globally, it was really a matter of determining my interest and putting in the effort during the recruitment processes. I had the opportunity to intern at Novartis in the summer and had a great experience learning all about the forward-thinking initiatives the company had been taking on.
Fascinated by their aspiration and progressive work culture, I was delighted to return to Novartis as a Financial Development Program (FDP) Associate post-MBA. The program is a 2-year finance rotational program that offers the exposure to a large group of financial functions in Pharma. We re-start our careers by going through 4 intensive 6-to-9-month rotations in areas such as Business Planning, Accounting, Treasury, Business Development & Licensing, M&A, etc., followed by 2-year placements that give us practical leadership experience, getting us ready for CFO or senior finance positions.
My Novartis experience has felt like a continuation of my MBA journey, as I continue to grow and learn alongside a remarkably international “class” of colleagues. The international student body at IESE simulates the diversity of corporations in the increasingly globalized world that we live in today. I believe the relentless case studies designed to train us to think critically accurately reflect real world scenarios that I have encountered in Novartis. The ability to manage projects comes into play frequently, allowing an FDP associate to quickly enter a role and contribute constructively in the intricate organization of Novartis.
From my experience, I highly recommend post-MBA finance rotational programs, as they are an excellent career choice for people who are looking for career acceleration, geographical mobility and vast resources on trainings. I would encourage whoever is interested in embarking a similar journey to reach out to the big family of IESE alumni and learn from their experience in both IESE and their current organizations.
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