In our #LifeAfterHult series we cover Hult alumni adventures and achievements across all walks of life—from alumni who have taken an entrepreneurial path, to those striving for success in competitive corporate sectors. After speaking to global entrepreneurs in the first article of the series, for our second feature, we speak with Betty Varga (Master of International Business Class of 2013), Jackie Chapman (Master of International Business Class of 2014) and Nuno Albarran (MBA Class of 2014) about how they stay ahead of the competition in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry.
Betty Varga, Master of International Business Class of 2013, Procter & Gamble. Betty is a Hungarian national and a Master of International Business alumni from the San Francisco campus. After graduating with a distinction, Betty worked as a freelance Digital Marketer in Dusseldorf. But a job offer from P&G brought her back Hungary, where she quickly progressed from Customer Development Associate to Key Account Manager. Betty now manages P&G’s Müller account in Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia.
Jackie Chapman, Master of International Business Class of 2014, MGA Entertainment. Originally from Canada, Jackie graduated from Hult’s Boston campus with a distinction in the Master of International Business program. With her eye set on Sales and Marketing roles, Jackie secured a position with leading toy manufacturer MGA Entertainment as a National Account Manager. Covering their North America region, Jackie works with multiple stakeholders, such as Walmart Canada, on how to best maximize sales.
Nuno Albarran, MBA Class of 2014, Johnson & Johnson. Nuno is a native of Portugal and came to Hult to launch his international career. He completed his MBA at the Shanghai campus in 2014, and is currently in the second year of his Graduate Leadership Program with Johnson & Johnson, based in Dubai. As Senior Sourcing Specialist, Nuno works with social enterprises to generate profits from sustainable manufacturing solutions.
Why did you decide to go into the FMCG industry?
Betty: Before coming to Hult I wasn’t really sure which industry I saw myself in. I gained experience in the tourism and media segments in Barcelona, and also in digital and transit advertising in San Francisco. However, I still felt I was looking for something else. It was during my time as a Hult student that I decided the FMCG sector was the right choice for me. I found myself a lot more engaged during projects and case studies, which concentrated on exciting retail brands, e-commerce, or consumer behavior. This made it clear where my professional interests lay, which led me to P&G.
Jackie: I always knew I would end up in the FMCG industry. What really drew me in was the concept of understanding consumer behavior: why people shop the way they do, and what attracts them to certain products or brands. No matter what you are selling, the key is to really understand who your buyers and consumers are, which is why I chose to start my career in an account management role. In order to get retailers to carry my product, I need to understand the brand, and be able to sell the brand’s story.
Nuno: It was more of a four-year journey, rather than a clear-cut decision. Prior to my MBA I had always worked in very functional roles such as Operations, Marketing, and Sales. None of them really satisfied my personal aspirations of wanting to do my bit for society and make a difference somehow. I knew I didn’t want to work in the non-for profit sector, as I needed a salary that would bring a return on my MBA investment. I began looking at multinational firms and, after stumbling upon J&J’s Credo, I was impressed with how much the firm’s values really resonated with my own. During my MBA I was inspired by a Michael Porter article, which introduced how firms could work with suppliers and distributors to reduce their environmental footprint and yet still make a profit. So it was quite the match when J&J’s graduate procurement program, offered me the opportunity to work with suppliers to innovate sustainable processes for manufacturing raw materials. Seven interviews rounds later, here I am.
“It was during my time as a Hult student that I decided the FMCG sector was the right choice for me.” – Betty Varga, Master of International Business Class of 2013, Proctor & Gamble
What challenges did you face when applying for roles in the FMCG sector?
Betty: Finding the right job in the right location was difficult. Most of the FMCG management positions required previous FMCG experience that I didn’t have when I finished Hult, so I needed to start as a trainee and learn everything from the beginning. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and it pushed me to develop faster in the role. Because of the fast track and exciting challenges, I was glad I didn’t go for a manager position in another industry.
Jackie: I think the biggest challenge when applying for roles is being able to clearly differentiate yourself from other applicants. It is difficult to truly understand the company and industry ahead of time. It really isn’t until you are in the role, facing new challenges every day that you become smarter and an asset to the team. What I thank Hult for is really focusing on the soft skills, like being able to present yourself clearly and concisely, and show that you have experience working well within a team. Those skills will make you stand out against other applicants.
“What I thank Hult for is really focusing on the soft skills…Those skills will make you stand out against other applicants.” – Jackie Chapman, Master of International Business Class of 2014, MGA Entertainment
Nuno: After finishing the MBA, it was a bumpy ride. I returned to Portugal in a hurry as my mother became ill and sadly passed away three months later. It was a very tough period, but I continued on with my job applications and took a short-term job at Capgemini to keep myself afloat financially. Life can throw a lot of challenges your way and it can sometimes feel like the only choice is to give up. But if you take the time to discover what you really want to do, and stay focused, then it’s just a matter of time. If you have the will, there is a way.
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What advice do you have for students and alumni wanting to enter your industry?
Betty: It’s a very competitive sector, which is why you have to be willing to take entry-level roles and build your career up. Start your search as early as possible. I left my job search to the last three months of my Masters program and it was a big disadvantage for my job search in the US. Use all the resources around you; my Career Development Advisor at Hult was extremely helpful with my job search and supported me with everything from identifying my career goals to interview coaching. By preparing like this, you put yourself ahead of the competition.
“It’s a very competitive sector…Start your search as early as possible.” – Betty Varga, Master of International Business Class of 2013, Proctor & Gamble
Jackie: The best advice I ever got was to maintain relationships, and to let people know the types of roles I was interested in. Your network won’t be able to help you if they don’t know what you are looking for. The second piece of advice I received was to try to meet someone that works at the company I’m interested in—and not necessarily someone in HR. Most companies in any industry would rather hire someone through a referral rather than an online application, and any employee can be an ally who will put your resume in the hands of the right people.
Nuno: If you want to work in a certain location, then you need to be in that location. Build your network to develop industry contacts, which is a skill that Hult gives you. Hult’s campuses provide an international platform for you to study, work, and network across global markets. Step out of your comfort zone for what you believe in and be confident in the choices you make. Don’t be distracted by what your peers are doing. Because in 20 years from now, you need to make sure you’re doing what makes you happy.
“If you want to work in a certain location, then you need to be in that location…Hult’s campuses provide an international platform for you to study, work, and network across global markets.” – Nuno Albarran, MBA Class of 2014, Johnson & Johnson
How does the network you built at Hult help you?
Betty: I learned a lot from my classmates. Everyone brought a different skillset and background that enriched my Hult experience. I still keep in touch with many students from my graduating class, and it’s a huge advantage to have friends all over the world. We share experiences from our respective industries and support those who have opened businesses of their own. It’s also a big bonus when you visit foreign cities and always have a local guide to show you around!
Jackie: The connections I made at Hult have been invaluable, both professionally and personally. When I was looking to make a move to a new city, I was able to reach out to old classmates living there. They were a big help and put me in touch with companies that were hiring. Despite living in different countries, the friendships I have made at Hult are still very strong today, and I am actually travelling to Europe to reunite with a few Hultians this summer. It’s really important to stay in touch –even when you’re not looking for a job.
“The connections I made at Hult have been invaluable, both professionally and personally… They were a big help and put me in touch with companies that were hiring.” – Jackie Chapman, Master of International Business Class of 2014, MGA Entertainment
What did you learn at Hult that you use in your everyday role?
Betty: The curriculum was well structured and focused. Almost every week I find myself drawing on a lot of in-class frameworks. The team dynamics at P&G has a matrix style setup and is really similar to the consulting projects at Hult. Going through the experience of learning how to adjust to many different personality types gave me a better handling of situations, in both my personal and professional life.
Jackie: Being in a sales role, it is my job to convince buyers that my products are better than the competition. In order to do that I need to be able to present ideas in a compelling way, and to know what points to focus on when you’re only given a few minutes of their time. Whether you’re presenting a project to the class, or just working with your team, being able to communicate ideas in a clear and compelling way was a huge part of all the classes I took at Hult, and the practice has definitely benefited me in my current role.
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This post was written by Selam Ibrahim, Communications Coordinator for the Hult Alumni Association.