The Bologna Business School Q&A
Corporate banking relationship manager shares personal story of studying Italy's Bologna MBA
What is your academic and professional background?
I did a bachelor’s degree in Finance at the University of Economics in Bulgaria, worked for several years and then attended the Bologna Business School (BBS) to study for an MBA, specializing in Finance and Banking.
After I graduated from the University of Economics I started my career at Bulgaria’s biggest bank (by asset base): UniCredit Bulbank, part of leading European banking group UniCredit. I spent seven years at the bank, starting out as an intern in the Retail Network Division where I worked for 3 months in different bank branches in Varna city. After this I transferred to my first position in Commercial Support.
For about a year I was responsible for providing full technical support for Bulbank’s Relationship Managers (RMs) and our clients. This was one of my most valuable experiences, from which I was promoted to a RM position, initially looking after individual clients and then looking after business clients. I learned to manage a portfolio of more than 300 Small and Medium Enterprises and to trade a full range of banking products including different credit offerings.
After three and half years in this role I decided to do an MBA at the Bologna Business School and I have since returned to Bulgaria where I’ve been promoted to be a Commercial Activities Manager at the same bank.
Why did you decide to do an MBA? When did you start and finish?
I planned to do an MBA since the start of my career at UniCredit Bulbank and was determined to meet all the criteria to apply to business school. I wanted to pursue an international MBA that specialized in Banking and Finance and also included management skills. I felt the Bologna MBA in Banking and Finance offered a very concrete and practical educational approach, addressing the challenges of day-to-day business in our era of fast-paced change. Another important stimulus for me to pursue the BBS MBA was my belief that it would help my career in the financial sector. I arrived in Bologna in September 2013 and finished the course in July 2014, after which I completed a 6-month project. I’ve just had my official graduation ceremony at the stat of July 2015.
How would you describe your experience at Bologna Business School?
An unforgettable, interesting and valuable journey! I was able to acquire a comprehensive modern education that involves teamwork and practical training in a diverse multicultural environment. I became part of a wide business network including mentors from leading Italian and international companies. Additionally, I gained the latest academic training to apply in the constantly changing and competitive financial sector.
Last but not the least, for me the most valuable part of my MBA has been the contacts and friendships that I have developed with people from more than 40 countries, which has truly enriched my worldview.
What is your current position in corporate finance, at which company and for how long?
My current position is a Commercial Activities Manager at UniCredit Bulbank. I’ve been in this role for 10 months and I am in charge of 15 sales people covering the Business and Individual client segments. My main responsibilities are to manage my team in order to achieve our commercial goals, to be proactive and to seek possibilities for growing the bank’s customer base and to develop and implement new products and processes.
What are the key skills or attributes needed to succeed in the sector?
This is a really complicated question and it will be hard to give a specific recipe for success, but for me the most important attribute is to be ready for change. The financial sector is fast-paced and competitive, requiring not only adjusting to change but to be proactive and trying to be a leader not a follower. Furthermore, to be successful for me means to be strongly self-motivated and not afraid of fail.
How has the MBA been of benefit to you in your career?
The MBA for sure boosted my career and helped me to improve my expertise. It helped me to understand the importance of team work and how I can create a strong team spirit The program helped me to broaden my perspective of the world and to discover my strengths and weaknesses, which is vital for a good leader.
What advice do you have for MBA students who are about to graduate?I would advise current MBAs to write down their own goals from their education. In order to achieve these goals they will need to prioritise their time and work, which is really important during an intensive program. An MBA is challenging, but it’s also the most rewarding experience. Enjoy every day and seek new opportunities.