As companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, continue to grow exponentially, the idea of working for the data teams in these companies is an increasingly attractive proposition for MBA grads.
Indeed, Wesley Jackson, a current student on the The Lisbon MBA International—a joint program between Portugal’s top two business schools, NOVA School of Business and Economics and Catolica Lisbon School of Business and Economics, and MIT Sloan—has landed a permanent position with Facebook for after he graduates.
Wesley got offered the job at Facebook after impressing during an internship with the company as part of The Lisbon MBA program earlier this year.
“I really started out just liking data,” he says, “so I applied for positions focusing on that.
“During the internship with Facebook, I saw that it was truly the place to work, with a great work/life balance.”
Wesley worked as a data miner for aerospace company Thales, in California, before embarking on The Lisbon MBA—he was thus already schooled in the art of data. But, he admits, that at the time of pursuing an MBA he had a pressing need to develop his soft skills.
The Lisbon MBA—ranked among the top 20 full-time MBA programs in Europe by the Financial Times—limits its class size to around 45 people, so there is huge scope for intimate interaction among students.
Indeed, says Wesley, these relationships are further developed during the program’s one-month immersion at MIT Sloan.
MIT Sloan is also heavily involved in The Lisbon MBA's Friday Forum series—an initiative solely dedicated to pushing the students out of their comfort zones through various mediums.
“We believe in developing our students’ leadership and communication skills starting from within,” says Constança Casquinho, assistant professor at NOVA and co-coordinator of the Friday Forum.
“It’s about understanding yourself as a leader, and building on that with creative and innovative communication.”
Beginning with mindfulness immersion and a focus on stress management techniques, students are then thrown into the world of 16th Century English Literature—Shakespeare. With the help of an actress and stage director from MIT Sloan, students act out some of the famous English wordsmith’s classics—like King Lear and Hamlet.
“It takes them out of their comfort zone and teaches them to be successful in stressful and challenging environments,” Constança explains. “It’s particularly unsettling for data-driven minds and, we believe, it prepares them to not only excel from a tech perspective, but to become emotionally-aware leaders as well.”
The Friday Forum was founded ten years ago by the founders of The Lisbon MBA program. The innovative scheme was a breakthrough in the transformation of deep-rooted communication skills within the MBA students, says Constança.
Being challenged in small groups fosters quick soft skill development among the students, something Marta Melo, director of the career management center on The Lisbon MBA, says today’s companies cherish.
During The Lisbon MBA , students work on projects and coursework within the same groups but, after the second term, the groups are changed.
“Students will need to work within small, diverse teams,” Marta explains. “They need to learn to adapt to new people in new groups—it prepares them to work with all types of personalities.”
Marta explains that within the tech sector companies like Microsoft and Amazon are big recruiters of their MBAs—although Wesley was the first student to secure a position with Facebook.
“The feedback companies give us is that our graduates have an ideal balance of hard and soft skills,” Marta confirms.
“They know how to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty when making decisions, and how to interact and work in a team in different environments. In a global corporation, that’s really important.”