Business Is Never Just About the Numbers (Interview)

MBA graduate Veronica Demozzi shares her impressions of the business school experience.

Business Is Never Just About the Numbers (Interview)

Veronica Demozzi is a corporate finance professional who has just graduated from the Part-time MBA at St. Gallen (Switzerland). She has been working for the past seven years in various countries, including Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and the US and in different roles. Her current role is Treasury Manager within the Corporate Finance team at ABB. Veronica is passionate about travelling and sport and she is a competitive runner. Her life’s motto is in omnia paratus (Latin for “prepared for all things”) and in that spirit she managed to spend two years balancing her studies, full-time job, and private life.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA and how did it build on your already sound academic and professional experience?

I enjoy new challenges and stretching goals. I knew I wanted to move on to a more strategic role, but I wanted to gain the self-confidence of knowing that I would be fit for it and to have the chance to try it out before actually making the move. I knew it was never just about the numbers, even in a finance role, and that I had to polish my soft skills, communication skills, and presentation skills and I needed an arena where I could train with peers and field experts. That is when I decided to undertake an MBA, specifically at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland). The University of St. Gallen offered me the perfect combination of a best-in-class international environment with attention paid to the development of each individual.

What were the best experiences during the MBA studies?

I genuinely enjoyed being constantly stimulated, not only by the diverse content of the modules but also by the constant interaction and ideas exchange I had with my classmates and the professors. Being a part-time student and a full-time employee allowed me to immediately practice what I had learned and bring value to ABB by leveraging the newly acquired skills. The MBA also gave me the opportunity to build strong relationships with my colleagues.

You studied in a part-time MBA – how did you balance professional, personal, and academic responsibilities? Were your newly acquired skills and knowledge noticed by your company?

It was extremely important for me to have a purpose in doing the MBA while maintaining a full-time job and a private life. Seeing my improvements as a professional, in addition to being constantly exposed to new stimuli, made it easier to maintain the focus on the ultimate goal. My company, ABB, strongly supported my MBA and the entire management team always understood if I needed to prioritise assignments or reshuffle schedules. I think that it was important and appreciated by everyone that I always maintained honest and timely communication around my MBA-related commitments. From a personal point of view, I train for triathlons and I am a competitive runner. On top of that, I love being with people and I don’t find it easy to stay at home the whole day preparing an assignment. So, I tried to fit in some time every day, even when deadlines were tight, for whatever made me feel happy – as a sort of prize.

How has your career and personal growth changed during and after the MBA?

After the first year of the MBA I was offered a more strategic position. The knowledge acquired during the MBA allowed me to get up to speed very quickly in this very different role. I had to constantly interact with stakeholders from various functions, think strategically and at 360-degrees, and understand people’s intentions behind their questions. The MBA gave me the tools for understanding much more than the financials.

How important is networking before, during, and after the MBA?

Networking has always been an essential component in my life. Before the MBA, it helped me to compare the different offerings of multiple universities before deciding that St. Gallen University was the right fit for me. During the MBA, it supported frequent interactions with alumni on how to face the challenge of managing the MBA alongside my working life and private life. It also helped me connect with people in my company, get to know areas outside my focus field, and work on related projects. After the MBA, my network will be even more important to stay up to date with interesting learning opportunities, to maintain contact with the university, and to get information on the development of my own and other people’s careers by constantly interacting with them.

If you had to select your MBA now, who would you ask for advice?

I would ask people in my close circle first, because I probably have them close for a reason. Knowing my circle, I know I would be pointed in the right direction. Also, I would definitely consult the university’s alumni and do my own research online.

If you could meet MBA alumni, current students, and admissions teams before selecting the MBA, what would you ask them?

I would ask them if they feel more confident of their skills and approach to problem-solving. I would ask them if they read the newspapers and know about the world. I would ask them if they are happy and if they will continue their studies in the future. I think I would like to understand if these people were stimulated enough and if they are left with enthusiasm and energy to keep on learning even after the MBA. The MBA is not just knowledge; it is an approach to learning which very much differs from the way we are taught during our Bachelor’s.

The Access MBA Tour brings together business school admissions directors, alumni, and prospective MBA applicants. How do you see the value of such an opportunity for professionals like you who are exploring their MBA options?

Definitely a good way to bring the different options to the table and allow people to see the different offerings. Sometimes it is not just about the school’s ranking but the organisation that best fits your needs.

What was the diversity in your MBA programme and how has it helped you grow?

I enjoyed the diversity of my class in many ways: different professional backgrounds, objectives, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. The fact that I had the opportunity to work with everyone in the class over the course of the two years enriched me a lot. I would give constant and honest feedback and I would receive the same from my peers. This environment allowed me to better approach the work environment when I have to face people with diverse personalities and different levels of knowledge or backgrounds.

What was your unique contribution to the MBA classroom?

I was well known for bringing energy to the room and the positive spirit of “there is nothing we can’t do”. People appreciated my dedication in sharing my knowledge with them when needed, without necessarily wanting to overshadow them.

Many business schools have already achieved a healthy balance between male and female business leaders in the MBA classrooms. What can companies learn from this?

I think we should stop talking about the lack of diversity in general because, simply by mentioning it, we are actually creating it. At the same time, companies should simply give credit where it belongs, regardless of gender. This is probably a longer journey for large corporations, where change happens slowly, but younger companies and start-ups can lead by example and demonstrate the added value of being more diverse.

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