María de Lourdes Eguren studied the MSc in Business Research (2009-2010) and the PhD in Business (2010-2015) at the Universitat de Barcelona Business School. She works now at Bunge, one of the largest agribusiness and food companies in the world. While she was still studying her master’s she found a job at another multinational, in this case in the pharmaceutical business: Novartis. Eguren combines her managerial job at Bunge with lectures at Tecnocampus de Mataró, where she works as an assistant professor. In this interview, she shares with us her experience and her thoughts about the academica and business.
Why did you decide to study MSc in Business Research at the UB Business School?
I took the decision after doing a little bit of research on different options that would give me access to a PhD. The main reason why I chose the University of Barcelona is its academic and international reputation. I was fully aware of the importance of a good decision and secure my professional and academic future.
Do you think that the MSc in Business Research helped you find a job at large multinational companies such as Novartis and Bunge?
There is no doubt that the MSc in Business Research opened the doors to my position at Novartis and allowed me to make a change in my professional career. As I radically switched from the automotive to the pharmaceutical industry, I think that the master’s degree gave me a competitive advantage over other candidates. Also, my PhD thesis on value management with a strategic perspective was a key factor to kick-start my international career at Bunge EMEA.
Why did you choose to pursue a PhD in Business after the MSc in Business Research?
When I enrolled on the MSc in Business Research I knew already that I would apply for admission to the PhD in Business. I chose a PhD instead of other degrees because of its creative potentialities and the knowledge development. A PhD in Business allows students develop innovative solutions that can be applied both in the professional and the academic life. In the future, instead of academics and professionals with an extensive knowledge, we will need creative people who are able to seek information from different sources and to integrate as well as to adapt them to the needs of a changing and more and more uncertain environment.
What can you tell us about your doctoral thesis entitled “Company activities and value creation: a systemic approach”?
I wanted to investigate from a holistic point of view how value is created in companies, by considering the different stakeholders and linking factors which are left aside in other studies. For example, the perception, the human factor and the use of KPIs when it comes to value management and processes. It was from there that the idea of a doctoral thesis on the development of a new methodology for value management originated. The proposal was validated through its application to a group of case-studies. The results were considered useful by the companies that were analysed and it even lead some of them to accomplish changes in regard of their strategy.
In 2015 you obtained your PhD in Business at the University of Barcelona. It was also the year you started to teach as associate professor at Tecnocampus Mataro. Are those two events related?
Absolutely. Nowadays, having a PhD level is the strict essential requirement you can expect of someone who wants to be part of a university that thrives to maintain high quality standards, as it is the case of the Tecnocampus de Mataró, which is part of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
Do you like teaching?
It is something I have always enjoyed doing. While I was studying at the Metropolitan University in Caracas I was part of a team of teaching assistants. At a professional level, I lead various projects in the field of internal training. In my opinion, teaching is one of the most rewarding activities that exist. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing students surpassing the teacher and reaching their own goals. Teaching has given me the opportunity to take part in the development of the humanity and in the future of our society.
After obtaining your PhD, have you considered continuing your academic research?
I certainly want to continue. In fact I have never stopped my research since I earned my thesis. I took part in the writing of a book chapter, participated in academic events and I have been a member of several doctoral examining boards. Today, I am still working on various publications. I also hope that one day I will be able to work more actively with my beloved Universitat de Barcelona and return everything it has given me.
A few months after you earned your doctorate, you have been promoted to your current position as a “COSO and Finance Processes Manager EMEA”. How did the master’s and doctorate contribute to this?
In my case, obtaining my doctorate has been a determining factor. In a multinational environment, multidisciplinary profiles that stand out from the crowd are highly valued.
Would you recommend the Master and the PhD in Business?
Without a doubt. In fact, I have actually already recommended it to a few friends and colleagues.
Do you have any advice for the future students of these two programs?
Never stop dreaming and do not believe it when someone tells you that what you desire is impossible. The challenge of starting a research from the scratch can indeed be very intimidating. However, if can overcome your fears, you will be able to develop your capacities far beyond what you imagined.I strongly encourage everyone to be perseverant, to think ahead and identify their goals, to work on what their like and to be prepare for a journey that will positively transform them.
What are your short and long terms professional objectives?
I would like to continue further developing my career and to improve my strengths, especially by focusing on these which require attention, while maintaining an applied focus between Academia and Business.