Sérgio from Brazil, Marketing strategy director
What is your current job?
I am currently Strategy Director at OMD, the world's most awarded media agency. I am surrounded by the most brilliant people, which makes work incredibly rewarding and enriching.
Why did you want to do an MBA in the UK?
I came to the UK to start the MBA in 2010, when I was 29, with my wife and our baby. For my undergraduate degree I'd studied Law, majoring in Intellectual Property, in Brazil.
Besides the UK’s tradition in academic excellence, I wanted to go to the epicentre of the creative industry, and no country is as exciting as the UK in this sense.
What was your career progression after graduation?
It was incredible! Two months before completing my MBA I had already received an offer from the Brand Union, a WPP global brand consultancy, to be their Worldwide Strategist.
Considering we were at the peak of the global financial crisis in Europe, the Durham MBA was (and still is!) certainly a powerful credential to have and display.
After that, I worked for the Starcom MediaVest Group, a top media agency, leading the global media strategy for Procter & Gamble across the beauty and femcare categories.
Although I was not actively looking for a change from this, after a few years I was approached by a headhunter who told me about an interesting opportunity in Melbourne.
My wife and I have strong family values. Her family lives in Australia and we knew that at some point we wanted to live there too, especially after the birth of our second child, Samy. We have now been there for almost a year, and I recently moved to my current job at OMD.
What was the biggest difference between your undergraduate degree in Brazil and your MBA in the UK?
The rigour. No law degree is relaxed, but the emphasis at Durham on writing style, research methods and critical thinking took the concept of academic excellence to another level.
The teaching style was also a lot more discursive than I was used to. We often had to dissect complex real-life business cases and apply recently acquired knowledge to come up with cost-effective, cutting-edge recommendations.
Big move: Sérgio brought his family to the UK (Picture: Sérgio Brodsky)
What did you most enjoy about coming to the UK?
So many things... but the cultural richness of the country is something that is impossible to ignore. The incredible architecture, the history, the myriad contributions to knowledge that have changed the way we live, the variety of accents – all these make the UK a very unique place to experience.
The fact that I was present for the 2012 Olympics, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Royal Wedding between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, made it even more special!
What lessons have you learned that you can share with students when it comes to applying for jobs?
During the first three months of my MBA, I tried to split my time between studying, networking and submitting job applications. This was a big mistake.
I realised that I needed to slow down on the job search front and refocus on my studies. After that, I was able to make the most of my MBA and go beyond the walls of the business school to learn from different faculties in the university.
Above and beyond credentials, demonstrating your passion is really important. At Durham I had my own column on The Bubble (the University’s blog) called Reinventing the World, where I expressed my views on several topics that I considered important.
I became a lot more confident about my writing and am now a regular columnist for Marketing Magazine in Australia, BrandChannel in the USA and Merca 2.0 in Mexico. Besides keeping your mind sharp and sharing useful knowledge with clients, it is also advantageous to expand your digital footprint in an increasingly globalised world.
Finally, the fact that I speak multiple languages combines with a robust education, and this is something that is attractive to employers.
What advice would you give students hoping to go into marketing?
Go beyond strategic frameworks and take a deep dive into psychology, anthropology and sociology.
Understanding deeper human motivations and having a worldview of society is fundamental when it comes to designing the market, as opposed to just being a consumer of it.
Work and home: Sérgio has been able to balance a successful career with family life (Picture: Sérgio Brodsky)
It is also important to have commercial acumen and understand the driving forces behind the companies you are dealing with, and how technology shapes competitive advantage.
What’s your number one memory of your time in the UK?
Only one?! Not fair! I’ll have to give you my top three…
Number one: Arriving at Newcastle Airport with my wife and our baby and taking a taxi to our new accommodation at Durham University. Although the driver seemed quite confident about where to take us, we could not understand a word he was saying – and he certainly had plenty to share! A few days later we learnt about the ‘Geordie’ accent… and friendliness.
Magical memories: Durham in the snow (Picture: Sérgio Brodsky)
Number two: Going for a walk across Durham on a beautiful winter morning, so beautiful it felt as if we were inside a painting. An already stunning medieval city coated with crisp white snow, reflecting the rays of sunlight and a blue sky is quite unforgettable!
And finally, number three: Spending weekends in London, a city that offers so much that for at least a year, our weekends were always different. As Samuel Johnson wisely said, 'When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life'... and London made us love life even more!
Loving life: A day trip to Camden Market in London (Picture: Sérgio Brodsky)
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