A 2019 EMBA graduate, Mila Varela Chouciño used to travel to Copenhagen Business School from her base in Brussels, but changed her commute when she switched positions mid-course. Here, she tells us about the impact the EMBA had on her career.
Late 2016, which is when I decided to send my application to CBS, seems like an eternity ago. Back then, I was working within the Internal Market Affairs’ directorate of the EFTA Surveillance Authority and was looking to spread my wings a little and add new tools outside of my maritime lawyer toolbox. I was eager to develop into a “proper manager”.
Coming to CBS
The main reason I chose Copenhagen Business School was because I wanted to keep a Nordic touch to my CV and I had read many good reviews about the Executive MBA. The flexibility the MBA offered was very useful for me, since I had to combine it with a full time job. Finally, I lived in Brussels, so the travel wouldn’t present much of a challenge.
Initially, I thought that the management aspect of the course would relate to the accountancy side of things, but it turned out to be so much more. Leadership was one of the subjects I really enjoyed. It forced me to think of the way I acted and made me see things in from a different perspective. This challenged my way of thinking and gave me a push out of my comfort zone. The MBA is hard work for sure, and fitting the workload in with my job was difficult at times – I used to devote my weekends to study – but the rewards made it worthwhile.
Everyone in my class was hungry to learn, and though only three of us were women (out of a class of 30), I felt there was a good mix of backgrounds and nationalities. I myself have worked in different countries and speak several languages, and although English was our common language on the MBA, it was good to connect with people that had an international outlook. Many of us were clearly experts in our field but looking to use the MBA as a springboard to management.
My company at the time supported me very well. I say ‘at the time’ because when I was almost at the end of my MBA, I changed my job.
Strictly speaking, I’d been on a limited contract and it was serendipitous that this new permanent position came up for me in Denmark. The skills I’d acquired on the MBA perfectly equipped me for this new opportunity, which involves looking after labour relations for Maersk around the world.
I am part of the higher management team, and there is a lot of accountancy work as it’s very much a costs-driven operation. In terms of leadership, it has prepared me much more. I’m now aware of the risks and the challenges involved in any business decision and that there aren’t always black and white decisions. You may believe that managers should have all the answers, but at Copenhagen Business School we learned through rigorous debate that there were often many shades of grey and that there were tools and mechanisms that you can employ to navigate the best way forward.
My business skillset has increased dramatically, particularly in leadership but also in handling and understanding data and in terms of decision-making. It’s been an extremely rewarding and enriching experience.