When Lehman Brothers collapsed, companies were no longer willing to splash out on Christian Lovborg’s conferences and executive events. “They told us their stockholders didn't want them to spend Euros on events anymore,” said Christian, who launched EUCIF with two co-founders in 2008.
“Even though they were great events, stockholders didn’t see the value. It was very hard to continue making things work,” said Christian, whose start-up company organized conferences for senior-level management at Fortune 500 firms.
EUCIF raised about €20,000 in angel funding, and personal investment from the founders’ pockets. The company specialized in events for large firms to discuss industry trends with SMEs.
The business, based in Barcelona, turned profitable within six months. “But it was never really enough profit that I thought we could take a salary,” said Christian, a Spanish-based MBA student. “A lot of reinvestment was needed.”
He made a number of changes to EUCIF to remain competitive. But in light of the financial crisis, Christian sold off his shares to his co-founders and sought a new beginning. “I thought there was more opportunity elsewhere, rather than trying to limp along,” he said.
In 2009 he moved to California and joined Closet Factory, the custom storage solutions company. “It seemed like really interesting work,” said Christian, who was born in Denmark. After two years, he was promoted to a project management and business development role.
Although he enjoyed four years at the firm, he left in 2013 to pursue an MBA program. “I had always wanted to go to business school, from when I left undergrad,” said Christian, who studied a Bachelor's in liberal arts at the University of California.
It is an unlikely undergraduate choice for an MBA – it was more of a “personal passion”. “I was studying it simply because it’s something I enjoy,” he said. His study was focused on directing and stage management, but he took business classes on the side. “I was reaching the limit of class credits.” After graduating in 2006 he joined Jacob Fleming Group, a business intelligence firm, as an analyst.
The MBA is a way to gain a more solid educational background, and find a meaningful long-term path.
He enrolled at Spain’s IESE Business School last year. “It’s been fantastic,” Christian said. About 80% of its MBA students are international and he values the learning opportunities of working with people of different nationalities and backgrounds.
IESE is different in that most of the work is made up of case studies and classroom discussions, Christian said. “It leads to very intense workloads – more than I anticipated.”
He is about to complete a summer internship at Altman Vilandrie & Company, a consulting firm. When he graduates from the 19-month program, he wants to go back to industry. “Nothing is decided yet. I’ve seen a lot of opportunities and everything interests me,” Christian said.
“But I’d like to find a job where I have long-term meaning, as well as interesting day-to-day activity.”