Mauricio Magalhaes - MBA International Business | Santander, Milton Keynes UK
Mauricio studied on an MBA programme at Birmingham Business School and is a Senior Consultant at Santander, Milton Keynes UK (also representing Brazil).
What industry and job were you working in before you did your degree?
Project manager for Estre Ambiental, the largest environmental company in Brazil (covering areas including energy, oil and gas, waste management, and implementation of urban cleaning services).
Why did you choose to complete your MBA at Birmingham Business School?
I had a good position in my company but wanted to grow. I thought it was the right time to complete my MBA abroad to get international experience and learn more about finance, accounting, marketing, and strategy. I have an engineering background and felt more business knowledge would help my career.
I wanted to study in either the U.S.A. or the U.K. to improve my English. Working in the U.K. would be easier for my wife and I, so I chose the U.K. I decided on Birmingham Business School because it has a good global reputation, was ranked in the Financial Times Top 100, considers students’ professional experience in its admission criteria, and offers good value for money compared to other highly respected schools.
What is the best thing about the course?
It was very educational to work with so many international people from different backgrounds and cultures. I am an engineer, so I use the logical aspect of problem-solving most often; people from other cultures can see things in different ways, and I gained respect for diverse views and ways of thinking.
What do you enjoy most about the University?
I enjoyed that the environment is so international. It is a very eclectic community with a wide variety of nationalities.
I also like the city of Birmingham; even though it’s the second-largest city in the U.K., it is still a lot calmer than London. It’s possible to live close to the University and walk or bike places. You don’t need a car to get around easily like you do in Sao Paulo. I did more walking and cycling here. There are quiet green spaces and the canal is beautiful, yet Birmingham also has all the amenities you expect from a big city: cinemas, shopping malls, restaurants.
How have you grown as a person by coming to the University of Birmingham?
I have changed a lot. I understand more about working with different people – for example, communicating people from cultures that are more shy and quiet. I have learned how to help bring people from quieter cultures into the conversation and respect them. People who speak the most are not always the most intelligent. This is very important today because no matter where you work, you have to do business with people from other cultures, and good communication is invaluable in business.
The knowledge I gained also makes me more prepared for my career. I had a strong background in engineering, but now I feel more comfortable discussing strategy, finance, and how a company works; I feel more comfortable and confident to manage my own company in aspects like marketing, strategy, and finance.
What do you think of the learning experience within the university?
I did the two year programme, and in my opinion the second year was better. I didn’t understand before arriving that many people in the two-year programme would go on to do MSc degrees rather than MBA degrees. I generally found my classmates had less professional experience and I did not learn as much from our collaborative work. However, the first year did help prepare me for the MBA, as I had no previous business background.
The second year was more collaborative, and I benefited from working with people with interesting professional experience from different backgrounds. The MBA is good because there is a balance between compulsory modules (HR, marketing, strategy, finance, accounting) and modules that you select for yourself.
In what way has the degree programme challenged you and how did you overcome this?
The first challenge was studying; it was difficult to have classes in English, which is not my mother language. If it would normally take me 20 minutes to read something, reading it in English takes me twice as long. I had to put more effort into things than normal. It’s important not to give up. You have to work hard and tell yourself that maybe you need more time, but you believe in yourself and are going to succeed.
The second challenge was time management. The first semester was very busy; there were class all day, from 9 -5, and you have to find a way to do work during the evenings and weekends. Talking to others helped me with that. When I spoke with others, I realised I was not the only one in the situation and was not alone.
What advice would you give to new students on your degree programme?
I would recommend that students explore their accommodation options. I personally found the University accommodation too expensive; for the same price, I could get a larger place off campus. There are rental agencies in the city that can help you find a good place that is close to the University.
If you can, spend some time travelling! Travelling around Brazil is very expensive, but in the U.K., there are low-cost airlines. I had a summer vacation between my first and second academic years and I enjoyed visiting other places.
I also recommend the International Business Experience module. We travelled to Budapest to complete a consultancy assignment and it was a good opportunity to put what we learned into practice.