Tracy Ann deSouza: The things not advertised in the brochure are the most spectacular

Tracy Ann deSouza RSM MBA

Tracy Ann deSouza PortugalRotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM)

Tracy Ann Dsouza from Goa, India had four years of work experience in retail and investment banking and had volunteered for a year and a half as a teacher at a school for underprivileged children in India when she decided to move to the Netherlands for her MBA at RSM.

She shared more about her choice and how the things not always advertised in the brochure – the culture, the relationships and friendships- the things that changed her life – have been most spectacular.


Why did you want to do an MBA?

I wanted to move to Europe to work as I realized the work culture is “more me.” The field that I wished to go into – impact investing – is very big in Europe. I specifically picked RSM for my MBA because I really like the culture of the school and I like the curriculum. They focus heavily on sustainability which I like and appreciate and is what I would like my career to be in future.


You mentioned you visited the school.

I visited the school before I joined. I had an appointment with someone from the Admissions Team. They showed me around the campus and the school building which I really liked. I attended a class the next day and also had lunch with a few current students. I asked them a lot of questions relevant to me. I really liked the atmosphere, everyone was very helpful, very nice and very supportive. This is the kind of culture I wanted for my MBA. I did not want a school that is overly competitive. And, to be honest, it’s the Netherlands. It is a very cool place to live. People here are very direct and open and honest; it has a great work-life balance and people speak English very easily.


How was the transition from the MBA into your job?

It was not particularly easy but that is only because the kind of work I wanted to do which is impact investment is very niche. Although the Netherlands has some of the highest number of companies in that space, a lot of times not knowing the Dutch industry proved to be a disadvantage. Furthermore, I wanted to switch from what I was doing before namely middle office and operations to transition into the investment and front-end side of things. I had to find a way through risk management which is like the middle ground between middle and front office. This is how I could get into a company that does what I ultimately want to do where I can eventually move into investments. From my first interview, I told my employer that I will not be in the department forever and that I want to ultimately move into the investment side of things. They have been super supportive in my plans. So, it was a challenge, but not a very big challenge. I finished my MBA in December and I had a few interviews lined up and by mid-February I already signed my contract and was ready to start working.

Tracy Ann deSouza RSM MBA

Tell us about the Personal Leadership Development Course at RSM.

The course is one of the unique things about RSM. The focus is to help us learn more about ourselves. We start with learning about ourselves – we are asked questions that require us to introspect. We then move to the next step which is our teams. We are assigned teams and they make it a point to assign the most diverse team you could possibly get. People from all over the world, different kinds of professional backgrounds and different personalities. It is all about how you interact with such a vast, diverse group of people. You get feedback from your team about things they like and maybe don’t like. For me that was a very big eye opener – I felt like I knew myself, but some of the feedback I received was not what I imagined at all.

What is the return on investment of the MBA?

I think it is immense. It is not just my salary as soon as I finished the MBA but it is the personality I have developed and the ability to rise within an organization and do more with my skills that will take me so many more places than if I had not done the MBA. I wouldn’t say the ROI should be something you consider tangible in the short term. Of course, salary is important, but at the same time the growth you experience in your personality is the real return. I already have new opportunities coming up three months into my current role and it is not because of my knowledge – my personality, spirit and energy is such that they think I am capable of handling a lot more and I think that in itself is a great return on investment.


When she started looking for an MBA, Tracy Ann was drawn by the ethos of RSM: a force for positive change. This proved to be true for her in all aspects of the MBA experience. If you listen to her journey, she is certainly set to carry this forward in her post MBA role and beyond.


Keen to learn more about studying an MBA degree at Rotterdam School of Management RSM? Reach out to Tracy Ann directly and ask her anything:

Tracy Ann deSouza RSM MBA

by Maryke Luijendijk-Steenkamp

Violeta Todorova: the ROI of an INSEAD MBA

Violeta Todorova BulgariaUSAINSEAD Business School


You cannot put a price on friendship and community – the ROI of an INSEAD MBA

Born in Bulgaria, raised in California, studying her undergrad and then working in London, Violeta Todorova was eager to take the next step in her international career. She realized that she needed to diversify her skills set to be able to diversify her opportunities and an MBA seemed the natural fit to enable that. After weighing up several options, she decided to enroll in the INSEAD MBA.

She told us why she has no regrets about going to INSEAD and how the MBA gave her so much more return on investment than she anticipated.

Why did you want to do an MBA?

I would say there are three primary reasons. The first one was expanding my network, not only professionally but meeting people from all over the world and extending the number of people that I know. The second one is career switching. I wanted to do a transition outside of marketing and advertising as my whole career had been in a very specific part of an industry. The third reason is opening my perspective. Getting to live and work in regions that I had not been to before and taking the time to explore new things and figure out what the next step would look like for me. It was all about pushing my personal growth story.


Tell us about your choice for INSEAD

I chose INSEAD Business School because of the one-year format. I wanted to career transition to something that was similar to what I was doing before thus I felt I did not need a summer internship to get to where I wanted to be professionally. The diversity also attracted me to INSEAD. When I visited some other schools, I felt that they were very locally focused in terms of their work experience, their ambitions and general student body. Having lived and worked in so many different countries and speaking three languages it felt natural to be surrounded by people that are similar to me. Furthermore, the cross-continental exposure Insead offered with their multiple campuses would give me maximum exposure to live in various parts of the world.


What has stood out about the INSEAD students?

I think beyond simply just the student clubs, one thing Insead students excel at is taking the initiative to organize things. We do have the official clubs which can be broken down into professional and non-professional clubs. Professional clubs are geared towards getting your CVs out to potential employers, organizing coffee chats with alumni that work in industries etc. Non-professional clubs cater to interests of students such as sports and cultural activities. Secondary to the official clubs is the initiative students take to organize sports tournaments, personal trips, showcasing native countries and passions.


There is always somebody at INSEAD that is interested in something and out of five hundred students you will find at least another ten students that are interested in the same thing. It amazed me how many small groups formed and how powerful they were in spreading something they were passionate about to the rest of the community.


What has been the biggest challenge on the program?

Prioritizing and finding time! You have so many things you could be doing from academically to socially to trying to sleep and trying to exercise and remain healthy that prioritizing what to do when is extremely hard. You are always calculating trade-offs on where you are going to spend your time and how you are going to spend each individual period. Especially with INSEAD being a ten-month program compared to some two-year programs it forces you to prioritize early on and constantly check your priorities to make sure you are hitting the objectives you wanted coming into the program.

What is the ROI of the MBA?

The INSEAD program is a one-year program which helps from an investment perspective since you only need the funds to support you for one year. Depending on your personal career goals, the MBA can definitely help. My salary doubled compared to what I was earning before the program. From an investment perspective it definitely helps me personally and I think I will continue to see the pay-off in the next five to ten years. However, ROI is really hard to calculate when it comes to MBAs because you gain so much in terms of friendship and community. To me, that is what I came to INSEAD for. The friends I made at INSEAD, having that network and group of people that gives you constant feedback and support, you cannot put a price on that.


Violeta knew that an MBA was the right choice for her and that it would be money well spent. After her program, she is even more convinced of the fact. She sees the experience from an intrinsic point of view – the ROI is longtime and it compounds over time and only gets stronger the longer you are out of your program. Judging by her journey so far, for Violeta, this will most certainly be the case.


Keen to learn more about studying an MBA degree at INSEAD? Reach out to Violeta directly and ask her anything:

Violeta Todorova INSEAD

by Maryke Luijendijk-Steenkamp

Eugenio Galvan: How the Nyenrode MBA changed him from a technical expert to an all-round business professional


Eugenio Galvan Guzman Mexico – Nyenrode Business University


“I needed to gain the human touch”

Eugenio Galvan Guzman was working as a project engineer in his native Mexico, very involved in the operations and technical side of things. Trained as a mechanical engineer, he enjoyed his job, all the physics and engineering, but he felt a little bit stuck.

“The projects were kind of cold. As engineers, we tend to only focus on results and I was lacking the human and administrative part of business”

Solid reason for him to enroll in an MBA to complement his technical experience with more business acumen and a change in mindset. 

We asked him to share more about his MBA journey.

How did you choose your MBA?

It was an interesting process. When I started looking for options, I was lucky to be able to speak to people from Nyenrode Business University directly – they were in my hometown for a couple of days doing interviews and explaining the program. Being directly in contact with them was one of the main sparks of me pursuing the MBA. I did see other options but in the end the Netherlands offered me better development and network. Nyenrode also made the process very simple.


Can you tell us about one course that stood out during your program?

Meet the CEO -this course is mentioned in the brochure but it is so much more than you can imagine. You get to meet CEOs from different types of industries and you get to pitch an idea or a new revenue stream or something that picks their brains to them. I have participated in two of these courses and it is an interesting journey because you have to come up with something that the CEOs have not heard of which is very hard. You get exposed to every single part of the business. You do not focus only on a specific operation or task but engage in brain storming and you can make things happen. These courses have provided me with some of the main take-aways of my MBA.


What is the Nyenrode community like?

It is very interesting to see what the professors bring to the discussions in class and how everybody from different countries have different opinions, or sometimes the same opinions. Comparing these different backgrounds will help us in future to understand how culture impacts things. The professors always enhance and facilitate the discussions between topics and cultures.

From my application stage, the staff has always been very helpful and made me feel comfortable. They gave me the sense that I am not just a number. Their support for all logistics like housing, visa, application etc. has always been there and while on the program you can approach them with any questions or concerns or comments you might have.

We have the biz lounge – a little cafeteria where you can meet people and have the extra value of not just having classes together but getting to talk to people and hearing different point of views. There is also an incubator which have some startups that you can talk to and in the end, you get a lot of practical and theoretical help. You build friendships and community and that is what it is all about.


How do you view the financial investment of your MBA?

The financial investment needed for this type of education is obviously a big investment. There are ways to bring down the cost – you just have to be prepared and conscious and explore the different funding opportunities there are. For me, I was looking for something not super high in cost that would be beneficial for me in the long run. I really needed what this education gives me as quick as possible. I did not want to lose a lot of time out of work, so with this MBA I will get what I want within one year. The investment is completely worth it:  I feel like I am already getting my money back through the experience and development on the program and on top of that I get exposed to the job market in the Netherlands which is what I am looking for. My plan is to stay here.

What is your advice to other Nyenrode applicants?

I personally think you should apply to the Nyenrode MBA if you are looking for ways to get into the European job market. Doors open for you to be in the Netherlands and to understand the Dutch business practices and be connected to the whole of Europe. And, obviously, to gain the academic and practical knowledge through the MBA. I have absolutely no regrets. Despite the Covid-19 situation, the Nyenrode MBA has been a very rich experience from an academic, professional and personal perspective. I feel much more prepared to work in different types of industries and am excited about what is coming next.

Getting an all-round business perspective that will see his technical skills complemented with a business base, managerial mindset and the all-important human touch is what Eugenio was after when embarking on the Nyenrode MBA. Judging by our conversation, he gained exactly that.


Keen to learn more about studying an MBA degree at Nyenrode Business University? Reach out to Eugenio directly and ask him anything:


Eugenio Galvan Nyenrode

by Maryke Luijendijk-Steenkamp

Alexandra Kutilin: How the Beedie MBA is empowering women and closing the gender gap

Alexandra Kutilin  – SFU Beedie School of Business

Meet Alexandra, Canadian born but raised between Santiago, Chile and Vancouver, Canada. Alexandra is now an MBA candidate and Student Ambassador at SFU Beedie School of Business. We wanted to find out why getting an MBA was so important to her and what her advice was to prospective MBA students.

What are the highlights of the MBA program at SFU Beedie?

When it comes to the highlights, I’d say make sure to get involved with extracurricular activities. For me, that’s just as valuable as the learning experience we receive in class. For example, I’m part of The GMCCP, The Graduate Management Consulting Club Program. It takes you through the interview process at top consulting firms like Deloitte or Accenture.

Take advantage of your extracurriculars, that’s the best advice I can give. As much as you learn from the course that you take your entire education experience can be advanced tenfold by taking part in extracurriculars.

What made you sign up to be a Student Ambassador?

I wanted to get involved because I had someone helping me with my application process and cheering me along from the sidelines as I applied for my MBA program. I wanted to do the same for someone else!

Can you tell us more about your experience on the MBA program at SFU Beedie?

The course really dives deep into who you are as a person, I’ve developed so much not just in business acumen but also as a person. I’ve really had to think about my leadership style, which wouldn’t have been possible outside of an MBA.

Your courses can be intimidating but remember you’re not in it alone, your professors are there to help you.

What would be your advice to someone considering an MBA?

“Right now is the best time to invest in an MBA. Leaders that are developed throughout this period of change are going to be the ones to lead the world on the other side of it.”

An MBA is a big investment but it’s worth it. When embarking upon an MBA journey you’re increasing your pool of opportunities. The two best decisions I’ve made in my life are getting engaged to my fiance and doing my MBA!

What was your background before you chose to study for an MBA?

I have a non-traditional background when it comes to coming into an MBA program, I have a diploma in Business and a Bachelor’s in Psychology but I don’t have a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. At SFU Beedie it’s not required to have that prior business education, they focus on getting everyone in the cohort as diverse as possible so we can all have the opportunity to learn from others with different perspectives.

Keen to learn more about studying an MBA degree at
SFU Beedie School of Business? Reach out to Alexandra directly and ask her anything:

by Fern Pearson

Ariel Lai: Utilizing the most influential MBA network in Hong Kong

HKU The University of Hong Kong MBA

Ariel Lai – HKU MBA

Some of the biggest companies in the world today – think Airbnb, Groupon and WhatsApp – were founded during the last global recession in 2008, and there’s every chance that the next generation of cutting-edge companies are being founded during the current COVID-19 recession. For Ariel Lai, these unprecedented times have represented an opportunity.

Ariel recently completed her MBA at The University of Hong Kong (HKU), a program which she buckled down to complete in 12 months rather than the suggested 24 months. Ariel used the enforced lockdown period to trial her education-based startup on her young children, who haven’t been able to attend school since the start of 2020. With the skills she has gained from her time completing the HKU MBA, we certainly wouldn’t bet against this startup being a corona-inspired success.

Doing the HKU MBA was one of the best decisions of my life, it has totally changed my career, changed what I pursue in life and now I’m able to follow my dreams.

Her latest business venture has certainly been a long time in the works. Ariel comes from a banking background, but decided to study the HKU MBA in order to learn the business fundamentals necessary to founding a successful startup. Having this very clear aim in mind before starting the program proved beneficial. She was able to choose the entrepreneurship electives that interested her and could absorb business advice, knowledge and networking chats every single day of the program.

Any startups get a lot of help from HKU alumni

Having founded the startup during the MBA, Ariel went on to secure funding for it through HKU’s business incubator. Yet perhaps the most valuable part of her MBA journey was the opportunity to talk with HKU’s global network of alumni, who were ready to offer help every step of the way. So grateful is Ariel for the help she received, she’s now desperate to give back by offering advice to any current or prospective HKU students. You can get in touch with her via the link below!



Ariel Lai MBA

by Fern Pearson

Marco Balarezo: Why he chose an MBA in The Netherlands and what surprised him about Dutch life

RSM MBA mbagradschools

Marco Balarezo – Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Marco Balarezo is a native of Peru who has lived in various countries throughout the world including Chile, Spain, the Netherlands and the United States. He studied for an MBA at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) before recently starting a role as Operations Manager at Amazon in Barcelona. MBAGRADSCHOOLS chatted with him to learn more about how he came to live in so many different countries, his motivations for studying an MBA and how his journey has still had the capacity to surprise someone as well-travelled as him.

As the son of a diplomat, Marco had the chance to live in several South American countries when he was growing up before moving to the United States, where he spent his undergraduate years. After ten years working in his native Peru, he decided he wanted to rediscover his wanderlust and set himself up for a new career abroad. An MBA seemed the perfect way to do that.

“The good thing about this program is that it was not static – kind of like my life!”

Having already studied in the US, Marco wanted the opportunity to explore all that Europe had to offer. After doing his research and reaching out to alumni, which he saw as a big factor in his final choice, he settled on RSM as his MBA study destination. It has the highest proportion of international students of any business school in the world, so for the internationally-minded Marco it was a perfect fit. In actual fact, the highly international make-up of the class surprised even Marco!


“I’m on a path where I feel that I belong”


During the MBA program he had the opportunity to work on regular team projects. This focus on teamwork proved to be a major takeaway for Marco as it also allowed him to develop his leadership skills and learn that it is important to be vocal, but also to know when to listen, take a step back and delegate when necessary. Now working as an Operations Manager for Amazon in Barcelona, Marco asserts that his time at RSM set him up to achieve his goal from day one: to work for a company outside of his home country and continue his globe-trotting existence.

by Nick Harland

Would you like to learn more about styding an MBA degree at RSM? Reach out to Marco Balarezo directly and ask him anything:


Wei Low: His creative background gave him a unique advantage in the INSEAD MBA program

Meet Wei Xiang Low  INSEAD MBA student

Wei Xiang Low, who graduated from INSEAD in July 2020, took some time out of his day to chat with MBAGRADSCHOOLS about why he chose to study for an MBA, his experiences during the program and how they are already helping him to forge a successful career path for himself.

Originally from Singapore, Wei comes from a background in journalism but most recently was working in Tokyo at the global pharmaceutical company Kyowa Kirin. During his time there he grew interested in the strategy and business development side of things, but soon realised that he lacked the business essentials such as accounting & finance to really advance in his chosen career. So he decided to get those skills at INSEAD; one of the most prestigious and most international business schools in the world.

“INSEAD opens doors both professionally and personally.”

Journalism isn’t typically an area that leads naturally into an MBA, and being surrounded by high-achieving individuals from industries closely related to business was initially quite daunting for Wei. However, he identified the personal development aspect of the MBA as one that really gave him the confidence to overcome this initial trepidation. Meeting like-minded people from all over the world who shared his appetite to live abroad was both inspiring and comforting. 

What’s more, Wei found that his creative background gave him some unique advantages over coursemates who tended to have a more technical background. As he put it, this allowed him to see the grey area whilst others only saw simple black and white solutions.

“Whatever field you choose to go (in)to…there will always be someone at INSEAD who can help you out”


Ultimately the vast network of INSEAD alumni and the unique international focus of the school were a big part of the reason why Wei got so much out of his time there. Ex-students were a click away on LinkedIn or through the INSEAD website and invariably gave Wei the answers he needed when he ran into any issues. And, with campuses on four different continents, he doesn’t believe many business schools can match the exposure to global issues & global trends that INSEAD students benefit from.

by Nick Harland

Would you like to learn more about styding an MBA degree at INSEAD? Reach out to Wei Xiang directly and ask him anything:

Tamara Johnson: From working in Fashion in New York, to life as an MBA student at the University of Miami

women in business

Meet Tamara Johnson, Miami Herbert Business School MBA ambassador MBA in America

“I thought: why would I NOT be able to do an MBA from a fashion background?”

In a new podcast series from The Modern MBA, current & former MBA candidates explain how they are making the transition from typically unorthodox MBA sectors such as the arts, healthcare and hospitality into business. In the latest podcast, Tamara Johnson talked through her experiences in transitioning from a career in fashion to the MBA program at Miami Herbert Business School.

MBA Miami

Tamara previously worked in the fashion industry as a technical designer, which is the person responsible for the size, fit and construction of each garment. Having studied fashion in her undergrad years she was already well-versed in the creative side of things, but was starting to become interested in the workings of the business as a whole. She elected to study an MBA in order to fully understand the business side of the fashion industry.

“Know what you’re strong at, know what you’re weak at, and target those things appropriately.”


A common challenge facing those who come into an MBA from an unorthodox sector is their lack of experience in certain areas of business. In Tamara’s case, the modules in accounting and finance were particularly challenging, but it only led to her doubling up on her study time and more determined than ever to grasp concepts that had been alien to her not so long ago. Surprisingly, she also found that there were parts of the MBA that related back to her career in fashion; whether that be manufacturing, marketing or product development.

Now midway through her program, what are Tamara’s career plans post-MBA? Well, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out! The one thing to say is that her eyes have been opened to the possibilities that now lay ahead in her career – and there’s no doubt that it was her decision to study an MBA that opened these new career doors.

Listen to the podcast here:

by Nick Harland

Would you like to learn more about styding an MBA degree at Miami Herbert Business School? Reach out to Tamara Johnson directly and ask her anything:

Miami Herbert Business School

Sam Dorman: From USA Diving National Team to an MBA at the Miami Herbert Business School

Sam Dorman

Sam Dorman – Miami Herbert Business School MBA 

“In my eyes it [the key to passing the GMAT] is taking the attributes from sports of creating goals, setting a plan and working towards the execution. That execution comes down to the day-to-day and if you can perfect your day-to-day then you won’t have to focus on the end goal, because the end goal will happen.”

Sam Dorman

In a new podcast series from The Modern MBA, current & former MBA candidates explain how they are making the transition from typically unorthodox MBA sectors such as the arts, healthcare and hospitality into business. In the latest podcast, Sam Dorman explains how he has made the jump from being part of Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics to studying for an MBA at The University of Miami Herbert Business School. Although it may initially seem like a peculiar move to make, his reasoning for the shift becomes clear by the end of the podcast.

Sam had been competing on the international circuit for Team USA since 2013, and in 2016 won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in the synchronised diving event. However, ongoing injury concerns eventually meant he was forced to call time on his diving career. Although for many that may have been earth-shattering, for Sam it was simply a chance for a fresh start in his life to follow a recently-acquired passion of his.

During his time as a professional athlete Sam’s interest in business had been piqued by his attempts to seek endorsements to support his career. That interest was further ignited after the end of his career, when he started to learn about how a business works during his time at a boating company. Sam goes on to describe in detail why he chose Miami Herbert Business School, the best thing about studying for an MBA so far and how he has managed to zone in on a future career path post-graduation.

by Nick Harland

Listen to the podcast:



Miami Herbert Business School

Contact MBA student ambassador Sam Dorman


Maria Nemchinova: An incredible network of top CEOs made Nyenrode an easy choice

Maria Nemchinova – Nyenrode Business University

We had the pleasure of catching up with Maria Nemchinova to discuss her decision to study for an MBA at Nyenrode Business University in The Netherlands. Maria is from the heart of Siberia in Russia, she made the decision to invest in her future and head to Amsterdam to join the Full-Time MBA September 2019 cohort at Nyenrode.

Maria carved a successful career in Higher Education for herself, however, she was looking for an intellectual challenge and wanted to level up in her profession. Maria decided to study an MBA, she realised to move ahead in her career she needed more business acumen and to broaden her network within her industry.

“I’m not from a privileged background, I was given the tool of education and that’s the only asset I had. The choice was to use it wisely and grow or don’t use it and stay at the same level!”

Maria opted to study in The Netherlands as it offers international students with the opportunity to stay in the country after graduation for 12 months. She also chose Amsterdam because of all the opportunities that the city holds, especially networking events!

Networking was Maria’s biggest take away from the MBA experience. Nyenrode has a strong alumni network so you’ll still feel connected to the university and your peers even after graduation. She expanded her corporate network with businesses that are tightly connected to Nyenrode, these global companies participated as guest speakers to inspire the MBA students on how to progress in their careers. The students had the opportunity to meet and network with the CEOs of companies such as Nestle, Phillips, Siemens, Vodafone – just to name a few!

“I had to choose to spend my savings on a mortgage or to invest in myself with an MBA. I chose the MBA and I don’t regret it for a second. Investing in the MBA at Nyenrode was the best investment I’ve made in my life.”

Would you like to know more about studying an MBA degree at Nyenrode? Reach out to Maria directly and ask her anything!

by Fern Pearson