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I Ambushed A Meeting And Ended Up In Charge Of Blackberry In Eastern Europe

Former investment banker and Imperial MBA grad Eric Braune talks about his lucky break

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Imperial College Business School MBA student Eric Braune landed his first job by ambushing a meeting in Miami. This intrepid businessman tells us why European business schools have the upper hand on their American counterparts.

Eric Braune was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he grew up until he moved to New York at 14. After graduating from high school Eric studied applied economics at Cornell University.

For a couple of years Eric worked on Wall Street as a Global Debt Markets Senior Specialist Negotiator for Merrill Lynch. After a couple of years Eric decided he “didn’t like the cut throat environment of banking, I am outgoing but I didn’t like the ambience and I knew I wanted something different.”

Eric booked himself a flight to Miami without a job waiting for him at the other end but he thought he would just see what came his way.

He stayed with a friend who was working for a Miami hotel company and was responsible for corporate sales. “There are many Latin-American companies who have their HQ in Miami and my friend was selling rooms to these companies. He handed me a list of two- or three-hundred companies and said let me know which companies you like.”

By the end of the day Eric had decided he wanted to work for Brightstar Corporation, a leading global services company in the wireless telecommunications industry. “By sheer coincidence my friend had a meeting with the Vice President of Brightstar the next day and we agreed after their meeting I would sneak in and pitch the guy!”

The plan paid off. The vice-president was suitably impressed by his ingenuity and after a round of interviews he was offered a job of Sales Rep. “It was a young company founded in 97 and when I arrived in 2005 they were still young but growing so fast. It was entrepreneurial as it was a private company.” After a promotion to Accounts Manager (where he remained for three years) Eric was offered the chance to work for Brightstar Europe based in England.

In 2010 Eric began work for the joint venture company, Brightstar Europe, the biggest supplier of mobile wireless devices in the world. Eric was the Business Development and Commercial Manager for Blackberry in Eastern Europe.

After having to return to New York earlier this year for a family matter, Eric had to put his job on hold. When he returned to London he decided to pursue an MBA at a school which would focus on entrepreneurship.

Eric was already living in London and had a working Visa so staying in London at Imperial College Business School made sense. “If I went back to the US it would probably have to be a two or three year degree. I was also looking at East Coast schools but they are too competitive, European schools have more of a corroborative nature.”

Eric has cherished his MBA year, “It has been a lot of work, two years worth of material in one. Friends at US schools have accountancy courses over a period of two semesters where we do it in a month. There are always so many things to do in one day.”

It wasn’t just Imperial’s impressive placing in the rankings that appealed to Eric, his father had attended Imperial in the 70s as a Masters student so had always heard about the school.

Imperial College Business School has provided Eric with a framework of quantitative knowledge, “when you have such a sales-focused work history like mine you need to develop you knowledge of quants. Even though I had a background in economics I knew it was something I needed to work on.”

The MBA is important to Eric as it is a pre-requisite for so many jobs these days and also for the network it offers. One side of Imperial that Eric has been most involved in is the Private Equity & Venture Capital club, one of the largest of its kind in a business school. “We bring in top notch VCs from all over town, try and hook up some internships and it provides a brilliant new network.”

One goal Eric has is to be an ambassador for the school, “I would love to help bring students to the school. I met a nice ambassador last year who gave me a straight perspective on the MBA; this made the difference between me choosing Imperial over another business school. As Imperial are targeting a lot of American schools I will be able to relate to both equally.”

Eric has been well and truly won over by the European business school system; “It depends where you want to stay after you graduate, I can see a trend towards one year degrees as two years are just too long. US degrees also emphasise younger students where in Europe it is closer to the 30 year old mark, I find the quality of discussions is so high as well all have at least five years of career experience.”

For his post-MBA job Eric wants to stay in the commercial world in a business development role, whether he returns to telecoms remains to be seen and he says there is a possibility he may set up his own company. Clearly the entrepreneurial spirit of Imperial has rubbed off!

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