It has been more than eight (8) years since I graduated from the university in the United States. I attended the University of Michigan and attained a Masters in Business Administration and a Master of Engineering in Manufacturing. Since graduating, I have spent these past years working in Operations Consulting and in financial institutions in Mexico. Although a long way from Ann Arbor, Michigan, I personally believe that here in Mexico is where I can contribute the most and where I can best leverage by educational experience.
My perspective is that graduate studies abroad greatly expand one’s skill set and business perspective, but it is best to bring and apply that knowledge back in one’s home country. There are three key questions that I believe surround this topic, which I briefly explore below.
Why graduate studies?
Although making a strong case for graduate studies may not be necessary, it is a reality that our demanding global economy requires highly trained professionals to keep pushing the (business) world forward. Most transnational companies have roles specifically designed for PhDs, MBAs and graduates from other Masters degrees. Over time, medium and small companies have also started to search for this talent, given the value of advanced technical knowledge or that within business functions. To the individual, the potential professional opportunities offer more challenging and rewarding roles.
In my case, since receiving my undergraduate degree, I had the objective of pursuing graduate studies to further my career. My dual degree from the Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan enabled me to deepen my knowledge in both disciplines. Coursework provided me with specific tools, structure and problem solving abilities in multiple functions: Strategy, Finance, Marketing, Operations, Organizational Behavior and Environmental Technologies, among others. Furthermore, case work exposed me to best practices across industries around the globe. My studies included practical “hands-on” class projects along with an exciting summer internship.
Why study abroad?
Beyond the learning advantages of a solid academic program, studying abroad provides tremendous value through the international experience itself. I met people from many countries and from all walks of life. This diversity of backgrounds and experience provided as much, if not more, value than the coursework itself. Personally, I also gained much from the experience of living abroad: a different culture, society and business world opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and living. This prepared me for future professional opportunities both inside and outside of Mexico.
Why return to Mexico?
During my professional journey, I found three reasons for coming back to my home country of Mexico, and I have seen them positively evolve over time. First, I wanted to give back to my home country. This is a challenging task and my focus has been on quality work and development of my teams. In addition to having the opportunity of participating in challenging projects, I have been fortunate enough to work with great people and contribute to their development. There is much more to be done, as I have yet to contribute directly to new ventures or social welfare in Mexico. Second, being back in Mexico allows me to communicate the University of Michigan value proposition; I am active within our alumni community as well as promoting the University’s programs to new candidates. The final reason is personal, as I wanted to be close to my culture, family and friends. As I see my children and parents interact, I confirm my decision and see the value of this interaction across generations.
The journey through life begins every day, and I have never regretted the steps I’ve taken along the way. My peers and I have benefitted professionally and personally from making the decisions mentions above. Today, we live challenging moments in Mexico and there are many temptations not to return, however, I would strongly recommend striving for one’s best and giving back, as we are the only ones that can steer the way forward to a positive future.
About the Author
Hugo M. Breton is Senior Manager of Consumer Banking Operations with Banamex (Citi), Mexico City, Mexico. He previously worked for McKinsey & Company in the Mexico City, Chicago, and Johannesburg offices. He holds an MBA and an M. Eng. in Manufacturing from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Electromechanical Engineering from the Universidad Panamericana.