For a long time, Sergio García Lázaro had been sure that his future would be in the world of finance. After two years’ professional experience, he decided to redirect his career slightly and specialize in this sector. “I weighed up various options and, in the end, the high level of recommendations, experience, the quality of the faculty and the School’s international reputation were the factors that made me opt for EAE Business School”, he tells us in this interview. After completing his academic year on the Master in Financial Management, Sergio acknowledges that he left EAE having done some great networking, ranging from classmates and lecturers on the Master to guest speakers from companies.
Seven months ago, an opportunity arose for Sergio that he did not hesitate to grab with both hands. He had the chance to join the Financial Department of Europcar, a market leader in the transport industry in Europe. “It is a company that boasts a high level of prestige at a global level”, explains the former student. “This is as well as its great degree of ambition, a clear commitment to innovation and a casual, young atmosphere that blends well with the company’s broad experience spanning over 60 years in the sector”.
How did you find out about the vacant position at Europcar?
As the end of the academic year approached, I spent more and more time analysing the employment offer posted on EAE’s Virtual Campus. As Europcar is a company with a prestigious reputation, I focused on the offers it posted closely, particularly those related to my specialty on the Master: Financial Management and Administration. Moreover, I had several acquaintances who had spent part of their career in the company, and their confirmed my high expectations.
Tell us a little about what was involved in the selection process.
First of all, the Department of Humans Resource Development conducted a general analysis of my profile on a short telephone interview. After that, there was a second interview with the same department at the company’s offices, when the evaluated all of the skills required for the effective performance of the role.
Why did you decide to apply for this position and how did you feel when they told you that you had been selected?
As I mentioned, Europcar is a company that boasts a high level of prestige at a global level. This is as well as its great degree of ambition, which drives it to strive for constant growth at both a global level and also at the level of each employee, as well as expanding to an ever-increasing number of countries. This is underpinned by a clear commitment to innovation and a casual, young atmosphere that blends perfectly with the company’s broad experience accumulated over the course of more than 60 years in the sector.
Taking all of these factors into account, the result of the selection process was obviously the source of great joy and satisfaction, as the goals I had set myself by choosing the Master continued to be achieved.
What position do you hold and what are your everyday duties?
At the moment, I am doing support duties within the Financial Department and, in specific, performing all of the functions related to management control for several countries at a European level. So I carry out analysis of the company’s different business areas and draft balanced scorecards and reports.
In view of the fact that it is a company that is constantly growing, there is a need to carry out increasingly thorough and detailed controls and analyses. So, since joining the company, I have contributed towards the creation of new reports at a financial level.
What do you hope to gain from this professional experience?
The reality of working in a company of such a large size should give me a great amount of knowledge and experience at a general level. On top of this, my high level of interaction with the directors at Europcar in other European countries, I can gain even greater cultural enrichment.
Just like all aspects of society, companies are becoming increasingly international, and a large part of success nowadays depends on achieving convergence and adaptation between members of working teams with a high intercultural degree and diverse ways of thinking. Meanwhile, the company’s constant evolution requires an enhanced capacity for adaptation to tackle and overcome situations that may be more or less favourable.
Focusing on my job, it enables me to develop my capacity to analyse and summarize to a greater extent. Moreover, as I mentioned, drafting new reports has helped me to increase my creativity in order to achieve what we are striving for at any given time and express it in the clearest and most concise way possible.
What aspects of the working environment would you highlight?
As it is a company with quite a high proportion of young employees, there is a general sense of great motivation and passion for doing things well and developing a career within the company.
In addition, the level of internal promotion is quite high. Practically every week you receive employment offers by email for positions in the company that you can apply for. This leads to the enhanced motivation that I mentioned before.
In the same way, the fact that lots of the employees are of the same age range and share similar tastes helps us to build close relations that, as a result, facilitate cohesion and teamwork.
What are your objectives in the short and long term?
As I have only been with the company for six months, my objective in the immediate term involves continuing to gather experience in the sector (which is new to me) and managing to consolidate all of the knowledge and skills acquired over this period. At the same time, I am starting a new training process next month with the aim of being fully equipped by April to take on new responsibilities as an operations analyst specifically for Spain. Therefore, we could say that my overall goal in the short term is to sustain the growth process that is already underway in the company.
Looking at the long term, there are two perspectives. On the one side, as a priority, I plan to continue developing my professional career in the Financial Department of a large company, as I now do in Europcar. At the same time, I have always been really keen on commercial banking, and even more so after having worked with Banco Popular in my previous job, making this an option to really consider in the future.
You took the Master in Financial Management. What made you take this program at EAE?
When I did the Bachelor Degree in Business Management and Administration, I picked the specialty of Financial Management and, at the same time, I started to read quite a lot and learn about this field. It became increasingly clear that my future would be in Finance.
After two years in my previous company, I decided to take the next step and take a Master in order to continue developing professionally. Initially, I weighed up various options and, specifically, three Business Schools, including EAE. The high level of recommendations, experience and the quality of the faculty, as well as its international reputation, were the three factors that made me opt for the School.
What experiences do you take away with you after the academic year?
First of all, it was not always possible to pick your working groups, so, on many occasions, you ended up working with people with extremely diverse cultural and academic backgrounds (engineers, lawyers, economists, etc.). Sometimes, it was hard to reach agreements and we came across more obstacles than usual to drive the project forward. However, ultimately, this forced us to develop creativity to overcome these situations, as well as accumulating a wealth of experience that provides a solid foundation for the professional world.
Secondly, the experience of having lived alongside people from other cultures for several months has enabled us not only to build great friendships with people all around the world, making it easier to visit these countries, but also to open the door to future business opportunities abroad.
How satisfied were you with the academic faculty?
One of the factors that made me opt for EAE was the extensive professional careers of the lecturers in large companies. When I got to the School, I could see that, as expected, they were great professionals. Above all, I would highlight the lecturers who taught the courses directly related to the specialty of the Master, particularly Dr. José Luis Mateu Gordon. His dynamic classes and his full command of the subject managed to increase my passion for finance even further, if that were possible.
Did you network effectively with your classmates on your Master, other students at the School and guest speakers?
EAE is a superb platform for networking. As I mentioned, as a result of the friendships started there, the door has been opened to business opportunities that may arise in the countries of origin of several classmates.
We all know how important social media are nowadays. A well-designed LinkedIn profile can act as an essential platform to showcase yourself. As such, as well as having kept a proactive attitude in terms of my participation in the sessions, I focused in developing interaction with the faculty on this social network. The concept of a teacher as somebody who just comes to the classroom to give a presentation and the students are mere listeners is very much a thing of the past.
Last but not least, I participated very actively in Talent Week, attending the events organized by the various companies.
What aspects for the Master and the School would you highlight?
First and foremost, and linking back to the previous question, I would highlight the great number of networking opportunities at the School. The high multicultural degree of the students and the professional calibre of the lecturers, as well as the guest speakers, give you the chance to generate contacts in several parts of the world in large companies.
The reputation that EAE has around the world makes the School the ideal place to give your academic profile a real boost.
Focusing on the Master, I would underline the practical approach to finance, without overloading the program too much with theoretical content that is often not needed when you join the labour market.