finance

“The MBA was sort of my sandbox”

Sergio Gomez has just joined the Board of the Alumni Association of the MBA. He graduated in 2020 and now works for Danske Bank in Copenhagen. We asked him a handful of questions about his experiences with CBS from leadership to finance to sustainability and beyond.

Why did you choose the Copenhagen MBA?

I think it was really important for my ambitions in leadership to get my MBA and to find the right programme for that. When I was searching, what it really came down to was that Copenhagen ranked well, there’s a lot of good coverage about it and the sustainability focus was a key part in my decision too. I didn’t have so much of an in-depth knowledge in that [sustainability] area and I knew if I went for CBS, and this programme, that I would definitely get much more exposure to it.

What skills did you gain in your MBA that you apply to your current role?

One of my biggest takeaways from the MBA programme was the leadership tools we were taught. The programme really puts an emphasis on that. We learned a lot about how to use our emotional intelligence, how we look at situations, how to understand the dynamics of them and what leadership style to apply there.

The concentration I took was called Digitalisation and having that background and understanding of it [digitalisation] really eased my transition into working with an agile set up – as opposed to a traditional workflow – at my current job.

What is one piece of advice you would give to those embarking on an MBA journey?

It helps to have a good idea from the beginning about what direction you want to go in. There’s a bit of an exploration phase for a lot of people when they come into an MBA but if you take the time to find out what motivates and interests you earlier on, then you can target it later in the programme – that’ll be really advantageous. Also, if you already know what industry you want to go into for example finance, then you can place more weight on specific events that are finance based.

Also, at the end of the day it’s not all about grades. I know for certain career paths you should be getting the highest marks possible but in general, while the grades you achieve are great to have on your CV, what’s more important is making those connections. Don’t forget that ultimately your network is a very powerful advantage, it’s a takeaway from the programme that isn’t listed formally so it’s good to pay heed to that.

How did you come to find your current position?

At the MBA programme we’re also taught how to navigate the Danish job market. We were all international students so understanding the local hiring processes was something that demanded some guidance. From the beginning CBS stressed networking and making sure your CV and LinkedIn where sharp.

One of the funny things we have here in Denmark is that hiring managers often list their direct line on job postings. So, we learned that not many people, even Danes, will call up the hiring manager and we were advised to use that as an initial way to separate ourselves from the rest of the applicants. Call them with some very poignant questions, showcase that you’re a fit for that role and then you’ll be in their mind when they’re looking through that pile of CV’s.

It was very helpful ultimately and that leads me on to how I found this job. I used what we learnt during these classes and through our awesome careers department. I’m really enjoying being with Danske bank and there’s a lot of opportunities and areas to grow in. I don’t think I could’ve gotten a foot in here without the MBA.

What’s a quote that you live by?

Maybe it’s just a saying but ‘pay it forward’. What I interpret it to mean is that it’s hard enough to go through challenges by yourself and learn through failure – so what I see in the pay it forward sentiment is; I’ve come to some level of success and I’ve learned from my mistakes, so I want to pay it to the next person forward. I want to help either by mentoring, giving advice or making the path easier for them.

What was the most impactful / memorable part of the programme?

This one’s probably going to be remembered on my death bed, it was really great! We had this leadership discovery trip called ‘leadership simulator’ where we went to the countryside for a three-day trek through the woods. I’ll always remember this trip as part of the MBA programme because it was kind of an extreme version of practically applying our leadership skills outside of a business context.

We made such tight bonds with one another and also got to see those [leadership] skills play out. It made it very obvious how important it was and how much we’ve actually grown from the beginning.

Do you have any wisdom to share on how the MBA contributed to your success in your role in Finance?

I would say the MBA was sort of my sandbox; it allowed me to try different things and test out different ideas that I’ve had, primarily about leadership but also about finance and digitalisation. I could gain those experiences in sort of a safe zone and allow myself to fail without so much consequence.

Why did you join the board and what are your future hopes for it?

I think ultimately my future hopes for this board – and it’s tied to why I joined the board – is to have greater outreach with our alumni. To make it a really great resource for everybody who’s been in this programme. I’ve had a fantastic experience with it, so I’d like to improve it and I guess that goes back to my pay it forward mentality. I’d like to expand the board out, not just to our alumni but also to other MBAs to have better outreach and better awareness of what it is.