David Bernal Padilla
Position pre MBA: ALM Manager
What motivated you to do an MBA and why did you choose Cass Business School?
It was time for a new challenge. I had undertaken several important positions in Bankia (Madrid, Spain), which gave me a lot of experience in the banking system, but I wanted to continue moving up the career ladder. I was also looking forward to gaining international experience that would give me a more global perspective and being in London, the largest European financial hub, was always my first preference.
I was previously aware of Cass for their Actuarial Science faculty, as I have an Actuarial degree myself and Cass was always a reference. Once I saw the Full-time MBA, I thought it would be a perfect choice and I wanted to develop my soft skills not only to be a good professional, but also to be a great leader. Cass was the perfect option for me due to its 12 month programme structure, location in central London and its international community.
What are your career goals and what do you hope to achieve after you have graduated?
After my MBA I see myself working in a top investment bank or in a private equity firm, either in the City or overseas. I know that to be an influential professional in finance, you have to be in the best financial places and I want to be able to develop my financial knowledge to help clients to achieve their goals, while simultaneously progressing my career.
How would you describe your overall experience of the MBA so far?
I would describe my current MBA experience as a great and fruitful one and I am impressed with the quality of academics and the positive atmosphere surrounding the Cass MBA. It is not only about all the new material we are taught, but also the new opportunities to grow personally and professionally. The intercultural environment, group discussions and self-learning experiences are a great chance to improve yourself as an individual and a team player.
Days at Cass Business School are so demanding. I go in early each day and I am surprised when I am not the first one there! I am then busy all day with classes, assignments and group meetings. When the academic life ends, there are plenty of networking activities and social events in London. It is common that some of the interesting events run at the same time, so you have to prioritise. Time management is key!
What has been the most rewarding experience for you so far?
Meeting my fellow cohort has probably been the most rewarding experience so far, as there is a lot of collaboration and genuine interest in one another’s backgrounds. It is challenging and exciting at the same time; everyone I have met so far is incredibly enthusiastic and friendly, not to mention extremely bright. Interacting with a highly capable group of people makes me do a lot of self-reflection and encourages me to expect more from myself. In the classroom, a wide variety of viewpoints are encouraged and accepted.
What has been the most challenging aspect?
The intensity of the programme forces you to be more productive and clever with your time and you have to start to use prioritisation as your best strategy to success. It is necessary to be disciplined and some sacrifices are required, dedicating enough time to complete pre-work and readings throughout the classes rather than leaving it all to the end.
The most challenging aspect was during the first Integration Week. You have to manage a whole week of work with six other teammates who you have never worked with before. Our team was a mix of people from China, England, Italy, India, Spain, Switzerland and USA. The cultural differences were huge, but we managed to utilise our diverse skillset and ended up working efficiently and effectively. The end result wasn’t so bad, as we won!
How would you describe your fellow cohort?
We have a balanced student body with students from over 30 different countries. My fellows are smart and ambitious, with a combined total of over 500 years’ work experience from such diverse backgrounds including; financial services experts, IT engineering and luxury retail specialists. The opportunities to learn from my classmates are just amazing and we are having a great time studying at Cass while trying to have as much fun as possible in London.
What has the learning experience been like? How are classes taught and what sort of expertise do the academics bring?
The faculty are all intellectually accomplished, but also all deliver something different. All the professors have their own unique style and it is helpful to learn from them. I had teachers from four different continents in just the first block, which represents the international scope pursued by Cass.
The faculty on the MBA programme are highly competent and engaging. Most of the faculty are at the top of their game, they are all well-versed with the current trends; from social media to new modes of doing business and we often see them commenting on business news in the media.
I found the Organisational Behaviour classes to be a huge eye-opener. I learnt a lot about human interactions and how much more effective you can become by gaining a better understanding of yourself, others and organisations.
I am also impressed by the quality of the electives and the variety of perspectives chosen for the international ones. I am looking forward to the constancy week in Iceland and the Dubai international elective.
What are your thoughts on living and studying in London and does Cass’ location bring any added benefit?
When deciding between business schools, I was attracted not only by Cass’ reputation, particularly in Finance and Actuarial Science, but also by its proximity to the City. I was convinced that Cass was right for me because it is one of the leading business schools with a good balance of academia and the opportunity to network with City professionals.
Attending conferences and events, in addition to company presentations held by Cass Business School, are part of the most enriching experiences I undergo. My classmates and I are taking advantage of Cass’ central London location and joining lots of off-campus networking events and fairs. Cass Business School is a universal and prestigious brand identity with deep business connections and the Cass MBA is not just a simple MBA, it is an experience for life.
What advice would you give to a prospective student thinking of doing an MBA at Cass?
Just to be really ready for this amazing challenge. The more prepared you are, the more options you will have to succeed, not only in the MBA, but also in your career.
The MBA is an excellent opportunity to develop your skills and knowledge, while also preparing you to manage challenging responsibilities and situations. Try to work hard from the first day and enjoy this adventure. Don’t be afraid to fail and recognise that there may be setbacks or delays, but stay focused on where you want to go. Be persistent, positive and patient.