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Colombia to Dubai: How This Asia School of Business Graduate Landed A Job At Kraft

Naira Espitia Torres made the leap from a Colombian company to a major multinational after her MBA from ASB—here’s how she did it


Fri Apr 5 2024

Naira Espitia Torres knew there were well-worn paths to an MBA she could go down as a Colombian native. 

“For us in Colombia, it’s common to study in the US, or study in Canada, or even Europe. I have so many colleagues who have done MBAs in Spain, for instance.” 

When Naira first began completing an MBA, she had worked at the international Portuguese retailer Jerónimo Martins for over five years. Starting as a management trainee she held positions in operations and logistics over the next five years, 

But it wasn’t long before Naira realized that an MBA would give her a broader business foundation, and she started looking at her program options.

Rather than follow the path she had seen her peers go down, she searched further afield for an MBA program—and landed on the one at the Asia School of Business (ASB).

“Jumping from Colombia to Dubai wouldn’t be impossible,” she admits. “However, the MBA was this facilitator. Without my MBA, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” 

Why an MBA at ASB 

Naira’s starting point for considering an MBA was an understanding that she would need more specialized business knowledge to progress further in her career.

“I needed a 360-degree view of business,” Naira (pictured) says. “Even though I understood how the operations work in a retail company, I was missing these technical skills.”

859a8f793fcaa18e0b365353708090a983aca36f.jpeg Looking to explore her options, Naira attended an MBA fair, where she met a representative from ASB. As first impressions go, the business school’s collaboration with MIT gave Naira a good sense of the rigor of this particular MBA program. 

The ASB faculty comprises a large number of MIT academics, and MBAs spend three weeks on campus at MIT in Massachusetts as part of the program.

So, although MBAs study primarily in Malaysia, they follow an MIT-inspired course, where modules are predominantly taught via immersion and collaboration rather than traditional seated lectures.  

“Having access to that world was the biggest highlight of ASB for me,” Naira adds. 

Immersed in international business

Another highlight of the program for Naira was the opportunity to immerse herself in business across Asia.

“Since I was a kid, I have always loved traveling. So, it was very interesting to consider living in Asia, in a totally different environment,” she notes. 

On the MBA program at ASB, students participate in practical Action Learning Projects. These hands-on modules are held in locations across Southeast Asia, and enable students to work directly with companies to solve business problems and learn about international business. 

During her Action Learning Projects, Naira worked as a consultant for Asian banks and Asian tech ops, among other projects. 

Given that Naira’s work experience before her MBA was entirely in Colombia, the chance to explore other markets made a huge difference to her MBA and future career goals. 

“Even though Colombia is a very important market, it's a small market, right?” Naira notes. “When you compare it to Southeast Asia, and Malaysia, it's totally different. It really broadened my professional background.” 

Working with a diverse range of students on the Action Learning Projects also proved to be a valuable experience. Around 60% of ASB MBAs are international, with 49 countries represented, and students work collaboratively in small groups. 

“In this case, I was working in teams of five or six people with different backgrounds, and we were all the same: we were peers, and nobody was anybody’s boss,” Naira points out.

“It was a challenge,” she admits. “But one of the biggest skills that I acquired is reaching agreements with peers—here, your word has the same weight as theirs.” 

How networking led to a job offer 

In the second half of her MBA, Naira had the opportunity to visit the World Expo in Dubai. While there, MBAs participated in a networking session with recruiters from across the region, and this event changed Naira’s career journey. 

At the networking event, Naira met a recruiter from Kraft Heinz. Despite being just an informal chat, the recruiter followed up through ASB’s Career Development Office and invited Naira to interview for a role. 

“I had two or three interviews, and afterward, they extended an offer to me,” Naira explains. “The opportunity I have now in Dubai was basically because of these networking sessions.” 

Naira’s current role is as a logistics lead for Kraft Heinz in Dubai, overseeing distribution across the Middle East, Africa, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). 

Complex supply chain issues, including the current Red Sea crisis, make it a challenging role, but Naira says that her MBA prepared her for this. 

“The operations skills that I have right now, I had before my MBA,” Naira says. “But right now, I need to solve issues like the vessel shortage and congestion in ports. And the MBA teaches you how to navigate issues like these.” 

In Naira’s experience, success on an MBA depends on how much you commit to the program you’ve chosen. 

“You have to understand that the MBA isn’t only what you learn in the classroom, but also outside the classroom,” she adds. “Try to connect with people. Try to build your network as big as possible.”