St. Gallen MBA Svetlana Bitjukova, an Estonian national, just started her new role at international finance service group Credit Suisse this month! Bitjukova is working as the Assistant Vice President in Global Financial Accounting Change Portfolio Management Support in Credit Suisse’s headquarters in Zurich.
Before Credit Suisse and St. Gallen, she worked for a number of years at Swedbank and earned an MSc in Economics from Tallinn University of Technology. She has also been a member of the Global Association of Risk Professionals since 2005 and holds the prominent Financial Risk Manager designation in finance.
If you want to land a top finance role at a company like Credit Suisse, here’s a few lessons you can take from Bitjukova!
How does it feel to land a role at Credit Suisse?
It is a great feeling to join such a global financial institution as Credit Suisse. I would like to express big thanks to my supportive colleagues, who help me to become a part of their great team. I hope that this is just the very beginning of an exciting and long journey.
How did you find your job at Credit Suisse?
I was looking for a challenging job position where I would be able to combine my newly obtained MBA skills with my previous job experience. Before and during my MBA studies, I met several people working for Credit Suisse and learned a lot of positive things about the company and its values. So, as soon as I found a job position I liked, I applied and was invited for interviews and the online assessment. After a fewweeks, I got a job offer.
What can you tell the global MBA community about the St. Gallen MBA experience?
The St. Gallen MBA is a great program. On one hand, it has a demanding academic curriculum. On the other hand, it is much more than just the studies. We had a class of 33 students representing 22 nationalities. It was a tremendous experience to communicate with my fellow students, as each of them, with no exceptions, has a bright personality.
The program has great connections with various companies: several times a month there were arranged company presentations followed by a reception when we could talk to the company representatives. For me, these presentations were a great opportunity to learn about the Swiss business environment. During the MBA studies, we had a large number of guest speakers for almost all subjects. It was a fantastic experience to interact with these industry practitioners, who generously shared their long-term experience.
Another highlight was Learning Assessment Week, when each MBA student had to stand in front of a jury including the Academic Director of the program, professors from both the University of St. Gallen and from another university abroad and industry representatives. For over an hour, the student had to present his or her solution for a business problem from the Financial Times and to answer questions covering a wide range of the MBA subjects as well as actual economic events.
There were many other events such as the workshops with the Consulting Club and the Theater Club and the team building and skiing events in the Alps!
How did your St. Gallen MBA help you to advance your career?
My St. Gallen MBA studies helped me to refine my knowledge in the field of finance, developed my communication, leadership, presentation skills and the way I work in teams. Additionally, I received full support from the MBA Career Services team during my application process to the job at Credit Suisse. They were always available and were happy to discuss any questions I had.
What was your previous experience before attending St. Gallen?
Before my MBA studies, I had been working for the leading Scandinavian banking groups for more than 11 years. Most recently, I oversaw the performance of the project portfolio of all Risk units of the Swedbank Group in Sweden and the Baltics. Before that, I worked as a project manager in risk control at Swedbank in Estonia for three years. From 2007 to 2009, I was a project manager in credit risk control for Swedbank Baltic Banking and from 2002-2007 I was a credit risk officer for SEB Bank in Estonia.
What is your advice to current MBAs about landing their dream jobs?
My very first piece of advice is to try to identify the industry and the job position you are interested in. The MBA experience is a great chance to make a career twist and thus it is important to identify desired changes in the career as soon as you can. Second, I would advise to learn about potential employers as much as possible by attending career fairs, talking to MBA alumni working for these companies and meeting company representatives. Third, start screening job ads of the various companies to get to know requirements for the position you are interested in. If there are any gaps, then it is important to identify whether it will be possible to overcome them during your MBA studies.
In the opposite case, consider some other job functions or even other industries. Allocate time to deal with a job search – writing good CVs and motivation letters is quite time-consuming. Be prepared to be called for an interview. So, learn about your job position and the company. And, finally, stay positive and never lose hope to get your dream job!