How Studying An MBA Abroad Can Change Your Career

Ernesto Ibarra moved thousands of miles, from Mexico to Milan, to pursue an MBA—and he hasn't looked back since

From international trade to business development, Ernesto Ibarra's career was thriving in his Northern Mexican hometown of Monterrey.

He worked in Mexico for almost four years, doing market data analysis for brands and promoting the his region's manufacturing industry. His earnings were good. With a business and marketing degree under his belt, he was focused on his country’s development and comfortable with his career growth.

However, he soon realized that he wanted more.

In 2009, after turning down an offer to study an MBA in France, he began a 6,000-mile journey across the Atlantic to Italy and MIP Politecnico di Milano School of Management (MIP), the same year it joined the rankings of the Financial Times’ best European Business Schools. It's now ranked 42nd in Europe.

Ernesto says his MBA experience helped him develop into a global business leader.


Settling into a new lifestyle

The most challenging part of Ernesto’s MBA journey was being so far from his family.

While his peers were able to easily catch a train to Rome or Naples for the Christmas holiday, Ernesto initially found it difficult detaching himself from his life in Mexico—there simply wasn’t a budget available for him to travel back and forth.

However, he recounts how attentive MIP Politecnico di Milano School of Management was to the international students struggling to settle in, both socially and professionally.

“They know very well, from their experience, what people have more trouble in,” he says. “They really build a very safe and comfortable path for new students to cope.

“They [also] know the landscape in terms of business, companies and connections, to be able to give project work opportunities to the students in the different areas of expertise, or new areas students were trying to move into.”

During the MIP MBA, students are given the chance to work on a full-time project for three months inside one of the official partner companies of the school. Companies include Amazon, Gucci, Ernst & Young, Microsoft, Ferrero Group, and Vodafone.

Ernesto worked as a business consultant at IT firm EnginSoft on a project that used prediction model software to forecast financial KPIs.

He says he developed soft skills during this experience—networking, interaction, and learning about working cultures—which have helped him in his career since graduating.

“In Mexico, most of the business is done between Mexico and the US,” he explains. “It’s a very different way of doing business, so I think this international exposure helped me a lot to interact and work together with people from all over South America, Asia and Europe.”

International students can also attend courses abroad due to MIP's International Exchange Program. Partner schools include EMLYON Business School in France, MIT Sloan in Boston, USA, IPADE Business School in Mexico, and Beijing University School of Economics and Management in China.


“I wanted to do something that was more drastic”

Ernesto started his MBA during the financial crisis. Finding a post-MBA job was tricky. After his MBA, Ernesto took a bold step, relocating to a city he knew absolutely nothing about: Bangalore, India.

“I wanted to do something that was more drastic,” he recalls. “In that moment, I was very hungry to know more about other places—that was the main motivation.”

Although Ernesto says he now loves India, his year as a marketing and economics lecturer working in Bangalore was the most difficult part of his career journey so far. He recalls having a hard time blending into Indian culture for the first six months, but his experiences at MIP Politecnico di Milano School of Management stood him in good stead.

He says his initial move from Mexico to MIP prepared him for working abroad, not only by allowing him to open his mind to professional possibilities he hadn’t previously thought of, but also by teaching him to make assured decisions and remove areas of uncertainty from his life.

“Moving abroad is a huge bet in many ways, especially financially,” he says. “This experience helped me over the years to be more exhaustive in foreseeing anything that can go differently as planned, to have a Plan B and to respond to changes.” 

After India, Ernesto moved back to Italy, this time to Rome to work in the mobile entertainment industry. He was then promoted and transferred to Madrid for a few years, before leaving and finally settling in Madrid in 2018 to help launch an influencer marketing agency.

Over the 10 years Ernesto has been away from Monterrey, the main lesson he has taken away is to always have a good understanding of your objectives when studying abroad.

“When you’re best prepared for the outcome, you’re going to have fewer surprises,” he says.

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