Sergio Hernandez-Marin is the definition of an ‘international MBA.’ He’s already lived in eight different countries. Now he’s on the move again, relocating thousands of miles east from Toronto, Canada, to Google’s Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore.
Originally from Spain, Sergio’s Google journey started three years after a full-time MBA at Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School.
An experienced engineer and data scientist, Sergio worked in artificial intelligence before it was cool. Keen to diversify, he joined the Copenhagen MBA in 2010, looking to profit from a small 35-to-40-person class where over 90% of students are international.
And profit he did. After graduation, he turned down job offers in Denmark to take the MBA triple jump – changing location, industry, and role – and take up the reigns of a green technology startup in the Netherlands. Then, in 2014, after two months of interviews, he landed a business analyst and senior consultant job at Google in Dublin.
Google is among the most popular career destinations for graduating MBAs. It was voted the most attractive MBA employer in a student survey by research firm Universum in 2016. Thousands of hopeful business school grads apply for jobs at Google each year.
When Sergio applied for a job at Google, he already had three advanced engineering degrees and a PhD in applied statistics. But, for Sergio, it was the Copenhagen MBA that gave him the chance to compete.
What does Google look for in its job applicants?
Google is a very diverse company and anyone can apply. But an MBA at Google is a nice thing to have. Without my MBA, it would have been more difficult to get the roles that I got.
One of the things that’s very appreciated about the MBA is the entrepreneurial aspect. You can meet an MBA, give them work, and they are going to take ownership of that work. Still, it’s no use just having an MBA. You need to have experience in and passion for the role that you’re applying for. And it’s important to tailor your resume to that role.
Extracurricular activities are also appreciated. It’s important to show that you have interests outside your job, and are a good match with the culture of the team.
Can you tell me something about working at Google that most people wouldn't know?
From the outside, people look at Google and think: good perks and good products. But the most amazing thing about Google is its people. The depth and breadth of knowledge and experience that people working at Google have is really impressive. Every time I speak to someone here, I learn something new.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Copenhagen Business School?
I had a very technical career. I realized that I had no idea what was happening in the world of business. I wanted an MBA program where I could find people with experience that I could learn from.
The Copenhagen MBA has a strong focus on entrepreneurship. The classes are small, personalized, and very international, so I could learn what was going on in business in countries all over the world.
I also liked Scandinavia and the way they do business there. Denmark is a very open country where your opinion counts.
Would you be where you are today without the Copenhagen MBA?
Probably not! I wouldn’t have as many career opportunities as I have now. I would probably be in an extremely technical role, doing what I was doing before.
The MBA opens up the possibility to work in different functions within a company. Right now at Google, I could move into marketing or product management, for example, thanks to the MBA. It’s given me a flexibility that I didn’t have before.
What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?
Consider whether you’re happy to be just a number in the class. We know there are big schools and famous MBA programs out there. But at schools like Copenhagen Business School, you feel like you are a peer, not just a number.
You have to participate and interact with your colleagues. That’s part of the richness of the MBA. It’s not just about the content or how prestigious the school is, it’s about how you learn from your classmates.
Most of my former MBA colleagues have become good friends. I’ve seen them almost once a year since I graduated. It’s eye-opening. Every time I meet them, I manage to meet other people and expand my network.
The views expressed in this article are Sergio’s views and do not reflect the views of his employer.