From a Caribbean Island to Switzerland: The St. Gallen MBA With a Passion for Emerging Markets

St. Gallen MBA and financial investor Sergio Ledesma on why the Spanish economy needs reinvention and why he will be staying within the Swiss borders after graduation.

St.Gallen MBA Sergio Ledesma  left Spain to fulfil personal ambition. His adoptive nation is entering its sixth consecutive year of an economic crisis and unemployment is at a staggering 27%. Although originally from the Dominican Republic, Sergio moved to Spain after finishing an undergraduate degree in economics at Santo Domingo and has been living and working in Europe for ten years.

He has not looked back since.

“As much as I love my adoptive nation, I am not fixated on the idea of returning,” he said. “The way I see it, developing my multicultural background and remaining as flexible as possible in the current economy could pay incredibly high returns.”

Currently enrolled on a full-time MBA program at the Swiss-based university, Sergio says that studying at St. Gallen has been an “intense experience”. “It’s a well-rounded, fast-paced program; ideal for future managers,” he said.

“The program has been extremely rewarding both in terms of personal and academic learning. The core curriculum, the electives phase and the Career Development Program come together to prepare us for a competitive job market. As trite as it may sound, for me, the St. Gallen MBA has been a deep learning experience on several dimensions.”

Sergio previously worked as a Junior Portfolio Manager for hedge fund Afina Asset Management  in Spain, before working for Naos Advisers across both Spain, Brazil and Mexico as a general Portfolio Manager. His work has often focused exclusively on emerging markets such as those in Latin America, Argentina, Turkey and Romania and Bulgaria.

The St. Gallen MBA student would “very much” like to continue working in emerging markets sometime in the future. “Latin America is an exciting region with great potential and plays an important role in the global economy. I don’t rule out joining an organization interested in expanding its footprint in Latin America,” he said. And are there any exciting Latin American growth companies right now? “Depending on the country, you will find several compelling stories. I find Brasil Foods, Renner and Marisa very interesting in Brazil, Credicorp in Peru and FEMSA in Mexico,” he added.

With an extensive background in financial investment, Sergio hopes that his MBA will help him get into a global organisation when he graduates at the end of the academic year. “I’m hopeful my MBA will help me secure a financial role in a global organization within Europe,” he said. “Although I’m especially interested in the impact investing industry, I’m open to exciting industries such as consumer goods and technology.”

Sergio has also been active in St. Gallen’s Consulting Club and Banking Club and thinks they have helped him develop employment connections. He said: “Joining these clubs has been a great opportunity to expand my network outside the MBA Program, as well as to participate in career-oriented workshops to develop specific skills."

With a keen interest in developing economies, Sergio thinks that his adoptive country should encourage entrepreneurship, and while at St. Gallen has learned “how dynamic and lucrative entrepreneurship can be”. “Developing the infrastructure for entrepreneurs in Spain has been on the agenda of most governments, but it still lacks commitment,” he said.

“From promoting the entrepreneurial mind-set among young generations (strongly affected by job cuts in the country) to fostering private entrepreneurial initiatives­, like in the US or Switzerland could be steps to support job creation. What the Spanish economy needs, after all, is reinvention.”

Despite the on-going economic problems in Spain, Sergio believes they should stay in the Eurozone. “It’s tempting to believe that going back to the peseta and gaining full control of its monetary policy, Spain could radically improve its economic situation,” he added. “However, in my opinion, the structural changes that need to be made can be achieved within the Eurozone and do not necessarily entail getting involved in a currency war.”

As he is currently thriving at the St. Gallen campus in Switzerland, Sergio hopes to stay within the Swiss borders once graduating, rather than returning to Spain. He recommends prospective MBAs try the culture on offer in Switzerland. “The cultural offer is immense,” he said, “…as well as the water and winter sports options!”

“The job market is really dynamic and I really enjoy the quietness of the Swiss and the harmony between urban life and nature. And if you enjoy idyllically bucolic landscapes, chocolate, cheese and efficient public transport, this is just the place to be!"

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