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Manchester MBA Helps Lead Latin America's Mobile Market At Samsung

In an emerging market, Giancarlo Casareto is helping to lead the smartphone industry into a new age. He wouldn't have got this far without an MBA from Manchester Business School.

It was while studying in Manchester three years ago that Giancarlo Casareto saw the potential for smartphones in South America. He had just finished MBA classes at Manchester Business School and was using an outdated Nokia N500. The rest of his cohort were brandishing iPhones and Galaxy S's.

"It wasn't even an android," he says, shamefully. "Back home in Peru, the first iPhones only came out while I was studying at Manchester. There was not a lot of smartphone activity in Peru but more people were starting to buy them.

"I knew it would be a big thing if I went back to South America. There was a new opportunity to be there from the beginning and see how the mobile industry would change."

Giancarlo grew up in Peru but left to study in Bloomington, USA and Shanghai, China before enrolling one of the UK's best-ranking business schools. MBS has a triple accredited MBA program and Giancarlo knew it would give him the skills to take his career to the next level.

He had been working for around five years in the tech sector and before leaving for the UK, had a senior position at IBM. They offered him a promotion, but he had always wanted to study an MBA.

"It was a very fun role at IBM and I knew I really wanted to be in technology," he says. "It’s a very collaborative company. But I wanted to have a second experience abroad in Europe.

"I knew the MBA would open doors for other positions at higher levels."

Looking back now, he knows it was the right decision. IBM may be a leader in the tech space, but Giancarlo's new position at Samsung Electronic, a global provider in the mobile industry, was made possible because of his MBA.

"It's not about the academics," he explains. "But what I really valued about the MBA at MBS were the real, practical projects - with real clients. I really valued the ability to develop these soft skills, accept other points of views and different ideas; so at the end you can come up with an integrated solution with the clients. It was like a real business.

"Here at Samsung if I have to solve a problem, I say all the time: 'This is like being in the MBA again'. Those opportunities to be in those real cases back at MBS gave me this ability to think more strategically, to see the big picture."

The bigger picture now is the future of mobile technology, in a region of the world that has been slow to catch on. In the UK, there were 44 million smartphone connections in 2013, representing a market penetration of 130 per cent, according to Portio Research.

In Latin America, smartphone sales in the entire region during the first quarter of 2013 reached just 16.6 million. Even a modest estimate would put Peru leagues away from the UK's connectivity. But there has been a 53 per cent increase on the same period last year, according to IDC.

Giancarlo joined Samsung under two years ago and has, in a relatively short space of time, risen through the ranks to Sales Strategy Manager, Mobile Division. He led the portfolio strategies of GALAXY Smartphones and Tablets in Peru and thinks this is a great opportunity to be part of an industry set to skyrocket in Latin America.

"I joined Samsung two months before launching the GALAXY 3 and that phone gave us leadership in the industry," he says. "I've launched many tablets since and we’ve done a good job in Peru.

"Things happening in the US and Europe, that happened six month's ago, you see how it happen here another six months after that. It’s a matter of seeing what happens in other markets and then applying them here as soon as possible."

Peru's central bank may have last week slashed 2013 economic growth forecast for the second time in less than two months, but Giancarlo dismisses the gloomier economic outlook as a reason for lagging behind the West in mobile usage.

"It's just a country with huge potential," he says. "There's now a process where a lot of companies come to invest in Peru, so it was not a hard decision to move here because Europe is already well developed, and it doesn’t have those numbers to grow."

He had offers to work for other big-name mobile providers in the UK. But after leaving the MBA program at MBS, he was convinced Samsung was the best option: "I know Samsung will lead the way in the future."

It would seem like Giancarlo's transition was seamless. An 18-month MBA program and, a few months down the line, a job with one of the leading providers of mobile tech, in an emerging economy with huge growth potential.

But he is under no illusions as to the instrumental influence MBS had on his career. Without an MBA, Giancarlo would not have got a managerial position so quickly. He has just been promoted and, would it have been possible without MBS?

"Definitely not," he says. "An MBA opens a lot of doors. I loved my time at MBS and I learned a lot."

As Peru's market penetration is just beginning to take off, so too is Giancarlo's role in the industry. But it all comes back down to Manchester and that awful Nokia N500 three years ago.

"Put it this way," he says.

"If there are two candidates for a promotion and they have pretty similar CV's, and both studied at similar institutions, would they give it to the person with the better MBA?"

In Giancarlo's case, we know the answer. 

He may be leading Samsung in an emerging market, but even now, almost four years down the line, he still draws on his MBS case studies.

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