Name: Jingru (Lois) Liu
Year of graduation: 2019
Nationality: Chinese (Hong Kong)
Country of residence: Switzerland
Current Employer: Novartis Pharma AG
I was born and raised in a small city of China, and moved to Hong Kong for my undergraduate study. After graduation, I joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as a consultant, serving financial services institutions in APAC.
IESE helped me to change my career location and industry. Currently I work as a Finance Development Program (FDP) Associate for Novartis Pharma AG in Basel, Switzerland.
Why did you decide to do an MBA and how did you choose IESE?
An MBA has always been in my plan. I had a bachelor degree in law with legal focused curriculum. However, I was more interested in business related subjects, such as finance, operation and marketing. Therefore, I always wanted to pursue postgraduate study in business. Furthermore, I was planning to pivot my career from consulting to healthcare, and a good MBA program can open doors for such a transition.
My criteria for a good MBA program includes 4 key elements: (1) high quality of teaching; (2) diverse school community, (3) good career support and (4) strong alumni network. Also, as a non-business undergraduate, I favored a 2-year program with an internship option, which allows more time for my career transition. IESE stood out as one of the few MBA schools that tick all the boxes, not to mention the school’s primary location in Barcelona with overseas hubs in New York, Shanghai, São Paulo and Nairobi. One can hardly resist the temptation of living in Barcelona for 2 years with opportunities to travel and study in any (if not all) of those amazing cities!
How do you feel the MBA transformed you? Did it meet your expectations?
My 19 months at IESE was totally beyond my expectations. The first few months were quite challenging. As a person who always had too many interests, I was completely overwhelmed by the competing priorities among academics, building my network and job hunting. Then I realized that there was no way that I could be an all-rounder. I could only handle one issue at a time and leverage the help of the others for the remaining ones. Since everyone else faced similar challenges like myself, teamwork played a key role. I was fortunate to be with a class of colleagues who supported each other with no spared efforts. This collaborative spirit helped me to focus on career development while finding the right balance with learning and having fun. It also turned me into a better team player and nurtured long lasting friendship with my colleagues.
How did the IESE MBA help you transition from consulting to healthcare?
A career change from financial services consulting to healthcare is fairly challenging. IESE offered me building blocks to bridge the gap. There were many activities such as case competitions, healthcare treks and more where I could immerse myself and learn about the insights from the industry experts. From a career opportunities perspective, IESE is recognized by many top healthcare companies as a target school for their MBA leadership programs, which provides good opportunities to career changers like myself to enter into the sector. More importantly, the Career Development Center, the alumni and the 2nd year students offered me tremendous support and guided me through the recruitment process and interview preparation, which helped me successfully land in an FDP internship with Novartis in Basel.
During my internship at Novartis, I took on a challenging role to support a global project. I was able to leverage the skills developed in MBA to navigate through the complex organization and deliver quality results on time. Also thanks to the diversity of the IESE community, working in a global company felt like a natural continuation of the MBA experience, which I enjoyed a lot.
Finally, do you have any advice for prospective applicants?
As with a job search, I would advise the applicants to think about the following questions: (1) what you would like to get out of the MBA; and (2) what IESE can offer you to achieve your goal.
It may be a painful process of self-reflection and research on the school and the program. However, looking back at my experience at IESE, I could only say that this “due diligence” process in my application was well worth the effort. Therefore, I would encourage the applicants to reach out to the admission officers and the Career Development Center to gain insights about IESE and the program, and to talk to the alumni and current students to learn about their MBA experiences.
For me personally, the MBA is a life changing experience. IESE is a top-notch school with a general management approach and a global horizon. So if you aspire to become a leader with an international career, an MBA at IESE would be a great choice.
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