An International MBA's Lessons Outside the Classroom
Mariana details the cultural elements of an MBA.
Mariana Zecca, Full-time MBA student at Cranfield University School of Management
I was born and raised in Uruguay and developed my career mostly in my country. I have a BSc in Management with a major in Human Resources. I specialized in the financial industry and I have additional expertise in the energy industry.
Applying for a top MBA when you come from a small country could be quite overwhelming in terms of the steps you have to take (GMAT, applications interviews, etc.), but with courage, determination and persistence, it is totally possible to be accepted to a top MBA program. And after seven months in Cranfield, I can say, it's totally worth the effort!
Dream career: Work for an international organisation like the World Bank or United Nations in sustainable finance for emerging economies.
Why business school? At that point of my career I wanted to do an MBA, not only to boost my career development, but also to develop my leadership skills and Cranfield's program united all the conditions I required: a combination of very strong academic modules and the focus on developing top leaders (in addition to a great reputation).
Best GMAT study tip? Before start studying the different GMAT sections, make sure you understand the test dynamics. To understand how an adaptive test works and that the test is not only to know the topics, but also about having a strategy to tackle GMAT.
Before business school, I was: For the last six years (before coming to Cranfield), I worked as a Relationship Manager for Lloyds Bank in Uruguay, mostly working with international and regional clients.
When I’m not in class, you’ll find me: In the gym or hanging out with my family and friends.
Advice for anyone thinking about b-school? Do your research and find a MBA program that actually suits you. Not only on the academic modules but also in the lessons you might get from outside of the lecture room. The MBA is much more that lectures and assessments. It’s an experience that is going to change your life and that is why choosing the correct business school for you is so important.
My remedy for pre-test nerves: Remember that the exam is exactly the same as the mocks you took. No more, no less. In my mind that meant that if I could do it during my mocks, I could do it just as well in the actual exam.
On the day before your exam, you should: Have a good night's sleep, eat properly, and if possible, don’t go through your GMAT notes.
How did you fit studying for the GMAT exam into your busy schedule? I scheduled two hours before going to work during working days and a few hours more to review during Saturday. Sunday I took the day off to avoid a possible burn out.
How well-prepared for business school do you feel, after studying for the GMAT exam? The MBA program is very demanding in terms of timing and intensity. GMAT definitely helped me to build the stamina for coping with all my responsibilities in the MBA and also to be able to handle my levels of stress.
What It Was Like to Move from Uruguay to the UK for My MBA
"First: beat your fears; second, be determined; and third, take applications one step at a time."
"My name is Mariana, and I am a full-time MBA student at Cranfield University UK, Class of 2015. And what I would like to talk about is how it is to come from a small country in South America, like Uruguay, to do a top MBA like Cranfield MBA. So, my story actually started out of curiosity. I always wanted to do an MBA to develop myself as a leader and to kind of boost my career. But, to do it in an international environment, in a tier one business school, sounded like dreaming too big for a girl that has been born and raised in a small country in South America. So, the first thing I did was to start my research and when I started my research, I found my first obstacle, that were my fears. So, the first thing I had to do was to beat my fears to actually do it. Once I did it, once I beat my fears, all I needed was determination. To be determined enough to take applications one step at a time because applications can be overwhelming. You have to take exams, like GMAT. In my case, I’m not a native, so I had to take a language exam. And, all of the application forms and interviews. So, my final reflection is: it’s absolutely possible coming from a small country to do a top MBA like Cranfield, but you have to have three things. First: beat your fears; second, be determined; and third, take applications one step at a time."
Why Those from Small Countries Should Consider an MBA Abroad
"After finishing your MBA you are not restricted to your country or even to your continent."
"My name is Mariana and I am a full-time MBA student at Cranfield University UK, Class of 2015. And what I would like to talk about how is why people from emerging economies should pursue an international MBA. In my experience, coming from Latin America, from Uruguay, I thought that it might be a disadvantage to come from an emerging economy. But, when I arrived to the Cranfield MBA, I realized that I have very important contribution to make because I am a potential witness of what it is to perform business in emerging economies. And now emerging economies are as relevant as developed ones. So the contribution that people from emerging economies can make to an international MBA is very, very important. The second reason why people from emerging economies should do an international MBA is that it opens the doors to the world. And after finishing your MBA you are not restricted to your country or even to your continent. You can choose when to develop your career or where to live. And the third point is that doing a top MBA, by doing a top MBA, you are going to acquire the latest knowledge and skills of leadership. An MBA is all about forming leaders. And that can be an invaluable asset to bring back to your country."
An International MBA's Lessons Outside the Classroom
"The cultural exchange is enormous and you have to be open-minded enough to absorb all of this cultural exchange."
"My name is Mariana and I am a full-time MBA student at Cranfield University UK, class 2015. And what I would like to talk now are the lessons outside of the lecture room you might expect to get when you are doing an international MBA. When I first arrived to Cranfield I remembered the program director asking us to push our boundaries and to step out of our comfort zone. At that moment I didn’t quite understand what she meant, but during the course I realized that what she meant was that the academic topics are as important as the experiences you get outside of the lecture room. For example, in my cohort we are 70 people from 30 different nationalities. So the cultural exchange is enormous and you have to be open-minded enough to absorb all of this cultural exchange. And open-minded enough as well to sure your experience and your own culture. An MBA, it’s all about learning from everything there is around you from the insight you can get, from your colleagues, from your lecturers. But not only about academic topics. So my final message is that the lessons outside of the lecture room as important as the ones you can get inside of the lecture room."
Preparing for the GMAT Exam as a Non-Native Speaker
"When you learn another language you are all about formal training in those aspects. And this could be a major advantage while preparing for the GMAT exam."
"My name is Mariana and I am a full-time MBA student at Cranfield University UK, class 2015. And what I would like to talk about is how to prepare GMAT being a no native English speaker. At the beginning I thought that this could be a disadvantage but then thinking about it again I realized that I have had formal English training for a few years and I could turn that into my advantage. Think about it, when you’re speaking in your native language you don’t think about grammatical structures, or verb tenses, but when you learn another language you are all about formal training in those aspects. And this could be a major advantage while preparing GMAT. My other point would be to practice. And practice. And practice. And the only way to become a professional GMAT taker it’s about practice. And just in case that you are not doing as well as you expected you have plenty of tools in the GMAT website and GMAT provides you plenty of tools to absolutely knock out this exam."