MIP Graduate Uses MBA To Drive Mexico's Automotive Industry

Sandra Valdes worked for General Electric for nine years before beginning an MBA program. Since graduating, she has moved into Mexico's automotive sector.

Sandra Valdes worked for General Electric for nearly nine years before deciding to expand her horizons and pursue a business education in an international environment.

Choosing MIP Politecnico di Milano as her only option, she successfully completed her MBA in 2012 and returned to Mexico to start working for Sensata Technologies, taking her first steps into the automotive industry.

Sandra spoke to BusinessBecause about her career at GE, the skill-set and international exposure the MBA at MIP gave her, and her career progression over the past two years.

You first studied Industrial Engineering and Administration. Why did you decide to begin an MBA program?

With some years of professional experience, it was time for an update. It was easy for me to make the decision; I knew I wanted to have international experience, [to] escalate up the professional ladder.

Doing a full-time MBA abroad was my best option, and also gave me the chance to accomplish one of my childhood dreams: live in Italy.

What made MIP stand out from other business schools?

MIP was the only school I selected and applied to. It was my first and only option.

I wanted my MBA to be a professional and personal experience. MIP proved that these are important aspects which they care about in many ways.

Do you think that the MBA degree at MIP added value to your skill-set?

Absolutely. It shaped [my skill-set] and added new ones.

I grew up as a leader and tailored my style. MIP also helped me to revive creativity, and to look for alternatives when solving problems. Working in multi-functional teams helped me to become a better listener, and to look at situations from different perspectives.

The atmosphere was perfect to learn in – an international class and a mix of professional backgrounds.

How has your career progressed since the MBA?

I switched from the healthcare to the automotive sector, which I consider a big step as it is more complex.

As an MBA graduate, I participate in activities to progress in different ways. One of them is to represent MIP in the MBA fairs in Mexico, a great opportunity to keep my network growing. Additionally, I’m mentoring Mexican college students [who are] planning to take post-graduate programs abroad.

I also joined the Brickline Group [a business consultancy founded by MIP MBAs] as an advisory board member.

What is your Six Sigma certification in and when did you get it?

It’s the certification I obtained after completing a savings project at GE. It was focused on the reduction of scrap; the waste had a financial impact and the project was to find a better way to procure the material to minimize this expense. The result was a 70% reduction of scrap which produced $50,000 in savings.

Do you think your experience leading teams helped to build your network at MIP?

Yes – GE was a great school to me, and is where I started to learn and practice networking. I remember being shy at the beginning of my career, but once you start to gain credibility, self-confidence starts to grow – as well as your connections.

I have had great mentors that have not just taught me ways or techniques to approach people, but also helped me to grow my network. This is invaluable.

How often do you catch up with your former MIP classmates?

Not as often as I’d like to but we are regularly in touch. There is always someone sending a joke through WhatsApp, [or] posting a job opening on our Facebook page. We became a great family.

A quote from one of my classmates: “Thank you, MIP admissions team, for gathering us and forming this amazing class.”

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