Mayra Hurtado always knew that a business school education was on the cards, but assumed she would return home to Mexico when her program ended. However, after completing her MBA at Nanyang Business School (NBS) in Singapore, Mayra made the infamous ‘MBA triple jump’: switching industries, function, and country to launch a brand new career in marketing.
Mayra had begun professional life as a financial analyst, working with auto parts manufacturer Delphi in Ciudad Juárez. Although she progressed quickly, she couldn’t see herself in finance long term.
“I was good at finance, but I wanted to pivot away after a few years,” she reflects. “It can sometimes feel repetitive, and I wanted to find something more business oriented.”
Studying an MBA was the ideal route toward this goal, helping her explore new options and uncover a passion for marketing through the Marketing and Strategy specialization.
A leap of faith in Asia
When Mayra started to research MBA programs, she looked for opportunities the world over—but it wasn’t long before Singapore stood out as her ideal destination.
She wanted the chance to immerse herself in an international culture and was drawn to the rapid economic growth Singapore had been experiencing.
“Singapore looked like a place with a lot of foresight,” Mayra says. “So, I quit my job and came to study in Singapore full time—it was a bit of a leap of faith.”
She was drawn to NBS for its rigorous Nanyang MBA program, which is ranked as one of the top 50 programs in the world by The Financial Times.
When she enrolled in the Nanyang MBA, learning from experienced and enthusiastic faculty was an eye-opening experience. One particularly memorable class—taught by professor Wee Chow Hou—focused on business strategy in China, drawing on the lessons of the fifth century BCE author, Sun Tzu.
She also enjoyed the outside perspectives guest lecturers brought to the classroom, including those from an expert who taught a class on marketing in Asia, which has proved particularly useful in Mayra’s career.
During the class, she had the chance to study the strategies behind iconic Asian brands like Singapore Airlines, Samsung, and Banyan Tree.
“Successful Asian brands have been effective at putting branding at their center and using it as a strategic business driver,” Mayra notes.
The class also explored how Western brands can adapt to diverse Asian markets.
“For Western brands to be locally relevant they need to become part of the community through collaboration and being culturally sensitive,” Mayra comments.
Learning to leverage diversity
One of the highlights of living in Singapore was the country’s diversity, which is also reflected in the MBA classroom at NBS. Each cohort has participants from 20 different nationalities.
“Diversity in Singapore is so wide—you can find people here from every nationality and industry background,” she says.
Fostering the cultural intelligence required to work in an international environment is one of the key pillars of NBS, which means classroom diversity is crucial. To support their development in this area, students can take electives like global management of human capital, regional communication issues, and leading people globally.
Working with diverse peers prepared Mayra for today’s globalized business landscape, she believes, and she keeps in touch with several fellow alumni around the world.
“For a leader to be successful, you need to learn how to appreciate people’s differences and work together,” she says.
Mayra also appreciates the “culture of trust” that makes Singapore a supportive place to work.
“Trust is a very big word here,” she reflects. “Here, people trust each other to deliver what they promised, and look out for the best interests of their community.”
A new career in marketing
When Mayra first set out on her MBA, she was unsure where her next career step would take her, but after connecting with Adidas through an on-campus recruitment event, she quickly found the right path.
The company was hiring for a marketing internship, and a member of the NBS Graduate Studies Career Development Office (GSCDO) put Mayra’s name forward.
“Initially, I didn’t expect Adidas to hire me because I had limited experience with sport or retail,” she admits. “But they needed someone with my analytical background.”
During the internship, Mayra realized that marketing was the right route for her. It allowed her to take ownership of projects from end to end, gaining exposure to many areas of the business.
“In marketing, we take different data points from different sources and then build a bigger picture—that’s what makes it a good fit for me,” she reflects.
During the internship, she worked on diverse projects, from merchandising to market segmentation. After she graduated from NBS, Adidas invited her back as an assistant manager with the Singapore trade marketing team.
She quickly rose through the ranks, taking up the mantle as a senior director for product and strategy.
Today, Mayra is setting out on her latest challenge: joining consumer goods startup Ramblin’ Brands as director of global sales and marketing. The company is currently building its first brand, Smile Makers, which offers sexual wellness products for women.
Transitioning from a large multinational to a startup will require some adaptation, but Mayra is confident that the skills she developed at NBS have prepared her well for the diverse challenges ahead.
“NBS really encouraged me to use different frameworks, which makes a big difference in how I solve problems,” she says.
“Through the Nanyang MBA, I feel like I’ve been given a toolkit to arrive at solutions that I use every day.”
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