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5 Top Soft Skills You Develop Studying an MBA Abroad

Categories: Education,Latest News

Last year I finished my MBA in the Netherlands, at Maastricht School of Management. The courses were comprehensive and the curriculum was extremely accurate for the current needs in the business field and the class is highly international. This time I would like to highlight other learnings that are very valuable for our life and career and probably we were not aware we would develop, to be more specific five soft skills: Critical thinking, emotional intelligence understanding cultural diversity, collaboration, persistence, and self-awareness.

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1. With my thesis, I learned critical thinking and process.

My thesis was a consultancy project for an industry that I love: classical music. I was excited about helping this music school due to my strong thoughts that the more we support music education our society will thrive in all aspects. At the same time, I was nervous about this challenge since I felt that I did not have enough work experience in this field.

I learned that all new challenges are solved with the correct process and thinking critically about why things are like that. Achieving a triathlon, a marathon, or a consultancy project have something in common: process. Once you have tried, learning during the process will give you more and more confidence.

Let’s dare to do different things. Accept new challenges. All will be solved with a process that you discover during the journey. Ask for guidance in your faculty and with mentors. The result is extremely rewarding.

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2. Emotional intelligence understanding cultural diversity

During the courses, you will review how to calculate the value of a company, analyze annual reports to understand a company much better, economics, supply chain, marketing in the global context, decision-making tools, corporate responsibility, strategy, and digital transformation, that give you tools to have broader visibility of the business, understand how companies can follow best practices from others or even trying to imitate a lot of things: products, services, technology, processes, but there is something impossible to copy or match: the culture. It starts with the top management and leaders’ behavior and beliefs. It drives and motivates all the people in the organization, partners, and clients.

We should take time to meditate about the core values of the company, to be conscious that everything we do has an impact, understand how people feel, and walk the talk.

3. Collaboration. We always need to do something for others, that is what our talents are for.

We had challenges in common, for example, all of us coming from different nationalities did not have a network in the new country, therefore, we needed to find our way to demonstrate our talent, to find a consultancy project, or a job. I decided to organize an event of leadership bringing leaders to share insights with students. Connecting the school with the industry benefits everyone and it had a positive impact on our class. The speakers, as well, were more than happy to contribute.

What a company requires from you is not the highest academic score, or having all the answers, it is to find answers. And you most likely will achieve that with collaboration.

In the graduation ceremony, I got the “The Student of the Year Award”. It was a nice surprise, I did not know before about this recognition and that it considers going beyond doing something for the class and for the society.

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4. Persistence and enthusiasm are the clues to learn and win

I had the opportunity to participate with a team in a contest of business cases to scale up a start-up with a sustainable purpose. (TSH). After a couple of months researching, interviewing potential customers, we finally presented our pitch that won the competition.

When I asked the other participants how was their journey, they told me that most of the team members quitted due to other personal priorities, and they managed to do all the presentation at the last minute, by just one or two people. I believe that our main differentiator was that we loved the project and that is why we were committed, we persisted, we sustained working on the project besides our other duties. We did it because we were eager to see this project growing.

5. At least, and the most important may be: Who are you?

I read before that studying abroad gives you self-awareness, and I always saw this as a cliché, understanding that of course, I know me. But I realized that back home, in your country, in your comfort zone, you don’t need to explain who are you. You have been working with a lot of people, different jobs, similar fields, and you have a network that supports you and recommends you. Then it makes a bit more sense the quote “your network is your net worth”. In a new country, no one knows you, you will need to articulate who you are.

Everything started with an exercise in a recruitment company at our school. We all prepared our pitch and we repeated exactly what our resume says, which is wrong, that does not define us. We are not a professional diploma, job achievement, or the international awards that we got.

So, how to figure out who you are? I learned from best practices on interviews to dig into our childhood if you tell a short story you will notice how people smile and engage with your conversation. One of the examples that I saw tells something like this “When I was a child I liked to assemble things. I used to have a mess on the floor with my lego pieces, my Mom had to deal with it. that’s why I studied mechanical engineering…”.

Think about your childhood, find what you love to do, and the drivers that led you to this point, step by step.

I will tell you who I am, it’s a better version than reading my resume, it is not perfect, it is always in process, as Michelle Obama says in the book Becoming:

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” ― Michelle Obama, Becoming

I am Claudia Jannine Martinez, I am from Mexico, eCommerce professional, classical music lover, and triathlete. I have been all my life curious and excited about learning and sharing what I know with others. I remember, when I was a child, I loved it when teachers asked me to research and present a topic. I gathered all the books to understand it better and enjoyed so much sharing it with others. That curiosity led me to eCommerce and consultancy, I love to dive deep into data analysis and to explore new solutions. I am the person who talks to all the people to learn more, understand different perspectives, build connections, training teams, and execute new challenges. Now I am in the Netherlands because I wanted to learn from sharing ideas and perspectives with professionals from all over the world.

Enjoy the journey!


This article first appeared by Claudia via Medium.