According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 76% of alumni agree that pursuing a business degree such as an MBA helped develop their professional network successfully.
Numerous career opportunities stem from networking, particularly in a competitive industry like football. Felipe Norambuena and Karina Barriga Albring, used the connections they gained during their specialist football MBA at University of Liverpool to launch exciting careers with FIFA and Eleven Sport.
Finding the right MBA
Considering 22% of the world's CEOs have an MBA, the degree is a prime opportunity to gain a top-level education while networking with influential people in your field.
In Liverpool's unique, specialized Football Industries MBA (FIMBA), students are introduced to influential people throughout the industry, from high-level managers to alumni working in football-focused startups.
Both Felipe and Karina came from non-sporting backgrounds and used the opportunities they gained during the MBA to fulfill their passions and launch their careers.
A Chilean native, Felipe (pictured) has always been an avid follower of sports: “I've been a football fan since I was three years old.”
After working in a travel agency in Chile, Felipe decided he wanted to turn his passion into a career. A connection from the FIMBA progam put him in touch with Rory Miller, one of the program directors.
"He came to Chile and completely sold me the idea of going to Liverpool," Felipe says.
Karina, originally from Ecuador, was working in public relations and communications in the US when she got her first job with Major League Soccer.
"That's when I realized that I wanted sports to not only be a part of my life but also my career," she says.
Aiming to study in Europe, Karina opted for England as a study destination over other options in Spain and Germany.
"I think what drove me ultimately to England was how developed the football industry is. When I sat down to compare the programs, Liverpool was the best fit for me."
Networking on the Liverpool Football Industries MBA
Both Felipe and Karina found the networking opportunities at Liverpool one of the highlights of their time.
"The program was excellent in many aspects. But the best thing was the speakers from alumni, clubs, agencies, media or FIFA and UEFA,” Karina explains.
"I think a handful of people or situations that happened while I was studying in Liverpool changed my life."
One was an alum who made it clear just how vital networking was in the football industry.
"He shared his experience when he was there, how he would take the bus to London and have coffee with people and just speak about the industry."
Karina (pictured) took his advice and worked to connect with industry speakers. When Paul Barber, the CEO of Brighton and Hove Football Club, delivered his annual speaker session, Karina made sure to get in touch.
"He hosted me at the club, connected me with others, and shared my CV with some of his contacts. I was impressed by how generous someone so high up in the industry could be."
Felipe had a similar experience with Harold Mayne-Nicholls', Chilean president of the National Professional Football Association (ANFP) and of the Chilean Football Federation (FFCh).
"He's a big fish here in Chile. So getting to know him face-to-face and chatting with him was really big for me. We're still in contact."
After engaging with influential figures at City Football Group, Felipe also secured a job interview with Manchester City.
"I learned everything about networking at Liverpool. It was a nice experience because I hadn't practiced it much Chile,” he says.
“I have a network all around Europe now."
Building a transferable skillset at the Liverpool Football Industries MBA
Along with networking opportunities, the Liverpool FIMBA focuses on core elements like leadership, strategic management of the environment, and managing financial resources. The curriculum emphasizes building transferable professional skills including analysis, problem solving, creativity and decision-making.
The specialist football modules apply business concepts to modern football, which prepares students for the demanding and complex industry. In the Becoming a Football Executive module and a Sports Operations Management modules students receive vocational training for the industry.
The Becoming a Football Executive module aims to strengthen students' interpersonal, communication and leadership abilities.
Launching an international football career through connections
Karina graduated from Liverpool remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, this forced her to rely heavily on connecting with people via LinkedIn to find job opportunities.
At that time, FIFA was hiring freelance consultants for a project with the High-Performance team in the development division.
"They reached out to me because one of my contacts had passed my CV on to them."
After finishing that project, one of the coordinators contacted Karina to work on another project working within a core analysis team. The opportunity led to her current role as a football analysis manager at FIFA.
"He is now my team leader, so it was networking that led to a freelance consultancy project that then led to my job."
Felipe worked his way up through the industry to land his role as the Americas Account Manager at Eleven Sport.
After the MBA, he contacted an alum, Jelle Beuker, who founded Soccer Camps United, a collection of football schools for kids, which Felipe helped launch in Chile.
While the project ultimately suffered due to the fees, it required Felipe to demonstrate his organization skills and ability to bring in the best coaches and talent. He later applied for a job at Eleven Sport after learning about it from another FIMBA graduate.
"My boss specifically said the MBA was a big factor," he says.
Reflecting on their journeys, both Felipe and Karina say the number one piece of advice is to take advantage of the opportunities given to you.
"During the MBA, it's crucial to take advantage of these great opportunities of being in a room with some of the top industry experts that the university gives you," Karina says.
How My MBA Helped Me Land A Job In The FIFA World Cup