Roberto Venegas is a financer through-and-through. He made his first investments at the age of 14 and claims he had a yearly return of 31%.
With such investment pedigree it is little wonder he ended up at London’s Cass Business School, on the fringes of the City and its foremost financial institutions. Cass MBAs benefit from access to Fortune 500 firms: two in five of the 250 largest global companies base their European HQ in London, according to a Deloitte study.
Before Robert enrolled in the Cass MBA this year, he was a portfolio manager at Forever Investment, a private family fund in Santiago, Chile. That followed two years as advisor to the Presidency of the Republic of Chile, in which he project managed public-private alliances for the Chilean government.
He holds a master’s degree in behavioural sciences and believes the subject is essential today for firms that are trying to understand consumer motivations and how customers perceive their brands.
Why are you pursuing an MBA?
I wanted to see things from a different angle, and I felt that being around people with different experiences, backgrounds and nationalities, would give me a more holistic view of business. In this respect, Cass has done an excellent job.
I had also recently finished a gap year with my partner, and saw this opportunity as a good way of reinserting myself into the workforce. The gap year was a chance to take a break from a very active life. And after talking with several friends that have done MBAs, I concluded that the degree would complement my career.
London is a global business center, home to the European HQs of dozens of Fortune 500 firms. How does this impact your business school experience?
I have the opportunity to talk to people who work in one of the most important economic and cultural hubs in the world. We at Cass have had loads of opportunities to talk and interact with people from several of those firms, which gave us an integrated understanding of each firm and industry.
What have you valued most from your Cass Business School experience so far?
I have valued the school as a whole to be honest. Classes are integrative and fast-paced, but also very practical.
Every end of term we have to incorporate theory from three classes into a week-long project. This leads us to not only use our course knowledge, but also to learn from the different backgrounds, nationalities, and experiences of our group members.
In addition, I value my cohort and all the extra-curricular activities that the school has offered us. I praise that my cohort at Cass is relatively small compared to other business schools (73 students), so after a couple of weeks, we all know each other.
In a couple of months we will be in Iceland for our Consulting Week, and several of us will be hiking a mountain! Besides the quality of the cohort, the chance to learn from them is impossible to quantify.
What impact are behavioral sciences having on business and management?
Behavioral science is essential today for firms that are trying to understand the motivation and attitude of consumers, and perception of their brands.
We are the first generation that can get instant, real-time information, for example on a new product release, to see how people are reacting when they are using our products, or what they are doing when they go to our events.
Behavioral science gives us an understanding of data that otherwise could be misleading or not useful. At the same time, behavioral science can be a tool used to understand the factors of change, risk and co-operation inside a firm, which gives us some answers to how people work and how they can achieve their potential.
Tell us about your role with the Presidency of the Republic of Chile. How close were you to the Presidency?
I was an advisor on different topics at the Presidency in Chile. I was mostly involved in restructuring, data analysis, and budget, healthcare and finance matters, but took a leading role in the relationship between the government and private firms in private-public projects.
My office was in the presidency, so I could see the President (former president now) and the First Lady quite often!
What are your key takeaways?
Don’t settle down. You can only get as much as you put into whatever you are doing. And try and focus more on the present and what impact that is having on you and the people around you. Of course, there is a lot of planning in business and management, but try to stay open minded to all opportunities that will arise.
What are your career plans post-MBA?
Post-graduation I would like to work in the corporate sector, in finance, business or project management.
I have been focusing more on what I am doing right now and trying to make the most of it. I engage in as many things as I can add value to.