× Explore our resources to learn how to reach your career goals with a graduate business degree.

From Soccer Player to Business Development Manager

Adolfo Fernandez

"Continuous learning is indispensable to grow as a professional."

General information:

  • Name: Adolfo Fernandez
  • Home Country: Spain
  • Current Job Location: Dublin, Ireland
  • Job Function: Business Development Manager Spain & Portugal
  • Industry of Work: Internet
  • Name of Company: Google
  • Hobbies: Fitness, travel and blogging
  • Degrees:
    • Master in International Management from IE Business School 
    • BBA Administration and Business Management from University of Santiago de Compostela 

What did you do between undergrad (e.g. Bachelor) and Master/MBA?

I worked as a CMO for Cilenis Language Technology, a startup specialized in Natural Language Processing, which was awarded with an Honorable Mention in the Building Global Innovators  organized by MIT. After my experience in the startup ecosystem I moved to the UK to join Xerox Corporation. I worked as a Business Development Consultant leading an international cross-functional team specialized in geolocation marketing solutions.

Why did you decide to pursue a Master/MBA degree? What was the “light bulb” moment you knew business school was in your future?

To pursue a Master was something already on my career roadmap when I finished my bachelor degree. My idea was to have some professional experience before taking an advanced degree in order to apply practical concepts during the program and make the most of my time at business school. It was very clear that the master would provide me with a holistic vision of global business and a much sharper skill set.

Please describe your current job and the skills you need.

Currently I work as Business Development Manager at Google where I am responsible for establishing new partnerships with high-potential brands in Spain and Portugal. My job is to help companies grow their business by achieving their marketing, sales and international expansion goals through the latest online advertising solutions in the industry. In my opinion there are three main skills you need to succeed in such a fast-paced industry as Internet: analytical and critical skills, communication and leadership.

What did you learn or gain from business school that has allowed you to get where you are today?

For me there are two milestones in my life that have completely influenced where I am today: high-performance sports, playing soccer at professional level for years, and my experience during my Master degree at IE Business School. The Business School allows you to acquire hard competences such as analytical skills or negotiation that are essential to working in demanding and competitive environments. But, it also helps you gain soft skills (leadership, communication, public speaking, execution) that are, from my point of view, skills that give you an edge and enrich your profile.

What was your inspiration for pursuing your current job/career—why did you get into this particular line of work?

My job is at the intersection of my two biggest passions: people and technology. During my bachelor I started to shape my professional career towards the marketing and technology industries. After working in both sectors in +3 countries, different company sizes and roles I considered that Google and, in particular my position, were an excellent opportunity to continue my career after the master. Google is at the forefront of innovation worldwide and gives you the chance to make an impact on society through technology.

Your greatest takeaway from business school?

For me the greatest takeaways from business school are the professional network that I started to build worldwide and above all, the values IE instilled in me: diversity, social innovation, entrepreneurship and humanities. Values that are completely aligned with Google and other companies with a similar profile.

Is the job/industry how you expected it to be? If not, what’s the biggest difference?

If I would have been asked this question during my bachelor degree my answer would have been a resounding ‘yes’. However, I should say that business school provides you with a quite accurate picture of how the real business world looks. The strong relationships between business schools and the industry play a key role on this. Also having professors from the business world and running simulations based on real cases help students reduce the uncertainty and move up faster in their jobs after the master.

Did you take the GMAT exam and if yes, when do you think is the best time to take the exam?

Yes, I honestly think that in order to make the most out of it , the best time to take the GMAT is after having some practical experience.

Things you wish you had known when first starting to think about business school and a career in business?

I would not highlight anything in concrete. However, what I would say is that continuous learning is indispensable to grow as a professional. After +3 years experience I will consider whether to take other advanced programs in the medium term, either an Executive MBA that contributes to polish my practical experience and recycle my know-how or other specific degrees on certain areas of development.

Where do you see your career taking you 10 years from now?

It is complicated to see where your career is going to take you in 10 years in such a fast and changing landscape. However, I have always been a person who believes that people should have a goal to pursue. Therefore I have drawn a first sketch of where I would like my career go to. In 10 years from now, I picture myself leading an innovative and global organization in a multicultural and diverse location. Also, due to my passion for teaching, communication and public speaking I have already started to do other activities in parallel to my core role such as delivering keynotes in major industry events, teaching in European universities and business schools and sharing my professional experiences through blogging. This is something I would like to boost as my career keeps moving forward.