Lluís Vivas chose the daytime Duke University Fuqua School of Business MBA because he didn't want austerity measures in his home country Spain to hold his career back.
Lluís, 29, gained his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Industrial Engineering from Universitat Ramon Llull, Spain in 2006. Prior to the Duke daytime MBA (the same as a full-time MBA), he was a Supply Chain and Operations Consultant for Accenture in Barcelona.
Now at the end of the first year, Lluís spoke to us about his choice to cross the Atlantic for an MBA. When we Skyped with him this week he was spending time with family in Pineda de Mar before beginning an internship with management consultancy firm McKinsey in Madrid!
Why did you opt for a US business school?
My background is in consulting and I was felt I was ready to take a step forward in my career. I had been in IT and wanted a more strategic role, something that involves more decision-making and that takes me towards the financial sector. Most of these types of roles require you have a good grasp of corporate finance and a background that equips you to be ready to learn more.
Statistics show that a significant proportion of those who get employed by the top global financial services firms have MBAs from the US. Also, when you think about the economic climate in Europe, especially Spain, you can see that the final opportunities you might want are not offered here so it makes sense to have a wider aim.
Do you plan to work in the US after your MBA?
My MBA journey involves my wife who would like to live in Europe. The situation in Spain is not great as you know and if I were offered an opportunity to work full-time for McKinsey in Madrid, that would be great. However, the US MBA gives me a chance to be able to work with different clients, especially those in the US. Even though the American economy is not great, there are still a lot of opportunities that come with having a network here.
Was it difficult to adjust to life in Durham after living and working in bubbly Barcelona?
The first few weeks were a bit difficult to adjust to, coming from Barcelona where the nightlife is great and there’s always something going on. I’m originally from a small town and Durham is only slightly larger than that so I felt like I was returning home. However, Durham is a nice town to live in.
I wanted to study in a collegiate environment and felt that I would miss out on that if I attended a school in a city. Living in a city means that you don’t interact with the people within the school community as much, since there’s something out there you want to explore.
I’ve really enjoyed my experience of being a part of the Fuqua community. I’ve met people that I would not have known if I was at a school in a city.
Have you found the style of teaching at Fuqua different from what you were used to?
I can’t compare the style of teaching at Fuqua to my previous school in Barcelona. Over there, the lecturer would come in, write on the whiteboard, throw some information your way and that’s the end of it. Here, it’s a conversation between professors and students. As a student, you need to be prepared to contribute and to engage with your work experience. I have also learned an incredible amount from my classmates.
Who are your classmates?
Duke MBAs come from very diverse backgrounds. In my class, I’ve got someone who came from working in political polls, a philosopher, a psychologist, people from financial services, consulting and so many other backgrounds. When it comes to class exercises, we draw from the different views and gain a broader vision. I also learned that some of the best ideas come from people without previous business knowledge.
You’re President of the European Business Club. What’s your mandate?
The Club was started for Fuqua students who want to do business in Europe. At Fuqua, we like to share the leadership so I’m leading with the Co-President, Stéphane. We work hard to help those who want to get jobs in Europe, as well as raising awareness of European issues.
Are you involved in any other extracurricular activities?
I’m also a member of the Consulting Club but next semester I’ll be helping as an admissions fellow. This will involve giving campus tours and helping the admissions committee strategize on how to approach European candidates. I may also be working as a Teaching Assistant with marketing and managerial accounting professors.
The Teaching Assistant duties won’t begin until September so hopefully I’ll have a full-time job by then. If everything works out I’ll have the rest of the time to enjoy myself, do more social activities and take in the MBA community.
Have you had a chance to take the famous American road trip?
I have. As part of my former job with Accenture, I worked with US clients so I had been to the US before the MBA but my wife hadn’t so I wanted to show her some of the different places that I had been to. We’ve now been on a few road trips. On the first one we went to New York, Philadelphia and Washington. We did another one to the West Coast and visited San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. And just before going back to Spain, we visited Miami. The US is a very big country so lots of hours were spent in the car but we had an amazing time!
What’s the best thing about being a student in the US?
Everything! When I was doing my first degree I thought that was the best time of my life and then I came for the MBA and it's been even more amazing.
In terms of academics, Fuqua has incredible human capital in its top notch professors, and it has just been amazing to be part of the community. Deciding to come to the US for an MBA was probably the most difficult decision I made but also probably the best. I’m looking forward to getting involved in more high level business decisions when I graduate.