Welcome to MBA Voices
In this section, we bring you interesting voices of MBA students from around the globe. Hear their stories and discover exciting aspects of their career and academic experience.
In our first ever series on the “MBA Voices”, Solomon George of GlobalMBAcareer caught up with Afonso of INSEAD to hear his voice. Read the full conversation below.
Afonso – Visualising his way to the Branding World – INSEAD MBA
Name: Afonso Rebelo de Sousa
Nationality: Portuguese / Brazilian
Business School: INSEAD
Year of Graduation: July 2014
Career Specialization: Brand Strategy and Design
Love: Comedy, Modern art, Formula 1, Tennis and Networking
Hate: Insincerity, things that waste my time, leaving for tomorrow what can be done today
Interesting Works: www.iamthisandthat.com & www.helloinsead.com
You have lived, worked and studied in many countries and continents. Tell us about it and what influence have they had on you. How has it shaped you?
I am a Brazilian-Portuguese – born in Brazil to portuguese parents, raised in New york, worked in 5 different countries and now studying at INSEAD.
It has been a privilege to have such an upbringing. It helped me to develop comfort in terms of navigating and communicating with people. I am a visual person from young age. My career has predominantly been in designing and creating and this is due to my childhood influence. Moving countries and continents taught me to be an extrovert and be comfortable in a multi-cultural setting, understand different cultures and fit in all group settings. The most interesting aspect – to grow with a Western European education within an Anglo-Saxon context.
You seem to have had a lot of interesting engagements apart from your mainstream career. Tell us about them
Many of them are related to the branding industry. I have taught at the European Design Institute of Branding, been a judge at the D&AD Branding Awards 2012 etc. These are examples where I felt the need to give back to the community I have been benefiting from. I never expected many of these things to happen at a young age, but they are also due to my recognition in the field. This also helped me to connect with some leading experts in the field and I was able to contribute back and learn much. I feel honored that I was recognized in my field. Recently, I helped an NGO called Ocean Flag before starting my MBA who are in their first steps
Tell us about your experience with TEDxKids
I was invited to speak in Portuguese. That was a challenge since I live, dream, think and work in English. I come from a visual background where it is okay to tell stories and dreams. In 15 minutes, I covered 80 slides and found the sense of delight in their eyes. Interestingly, they seemed to be more technologically advanced than me, so the message I wanted to tell kids is “Start telling stories”.
Tell us about the exceptional / interesting / unique / significant aspects of your professional life prior to MBA
It is not typical that a service person moves from the agency provider to the client side. I believe in people – I have been mentoring 2 people and it has personally been an enriching experience. I had wanted to work in the top 4 branding agencies at the headquarters and I achieved this goal by joining Brand Union at its headquarters in London.
In adidas, it was an awesome experience to lead the official branding for the 2014 world cup with a people and project management responsibility. I was able to have my team’s work delivered in a 7500 people event that included not only my seniors but also famous footballers like Kaka, Zidan, Cafu, Zico and even Beckenbauer – quite an event! It was the crowning moment for 2 years of intense work.
Do you think there is any correlation between an international football team and MBA?
It is about team work and teams like Spain or Brazil are good examples. You need to be more on the middle field, pass the ball and have a team game – not a one man or super star show as some countries do. So it is the little samba and tiki-taka dance that Spain and Brazil do that is quite essential in the real world. You need to connect the many talents and do the dance for people to get to know your talents and with who and how you get things done. So it is important to have the team, song and dance aspect to real life
What has motivated you to do your MBA and why now?
I didn’t want to have closed doors in my career. I was a specialist in branding. I wanted to equip myself more on the people management aspects and understand how a brand translates into value for a client. I felt I had the fair share of branding and felt like a painting has been completed from a design perspective– but when do you call it done? When you decide so.
Why did you chose INSEAD business school? What is special about it?
Since 2006, I had checked several American business schools alongside INSEAD. I chose INSEAD because it is a strong name in the MBA community with high diversity in terms of professors, is the most international business school, offers a one year program and my family and network is based out of Europe.
What’s so special? – INSEAD feels like home. We don’t have an undergrad school. It is 39 minutes from Paris and the countryside around the school is beautiful. Being away from the big city helps you to gravitate towards the school and peers 24/7.
Tell us about your student life at INSEAD
You can’t do it all – options and choices are wide. Apart from the typical course work, I am involved in clubs – I am part of the Global Leadership club where we invite C-suite executives and I also serve in a Leadership capacity in the Marketing Club. We also interact with the next batch where there is an overlap for a short period of time. It is very intensive and time is tight. The group work bar is quiet high and interacting with equally highly ambitious peers is a great learning experience. Read more on his INSEAD MBA experience
What inspires you the most in life? Why?
Humour – it is different in different parts of the world. I spend many hours on YouTube watching comedians and I try writing things myself, though not the best. Humour helps me to take the road less travelled and look at things with a new perspective or spin on it.
What would be your dream career? What do you intend to accomplish through it?
Chief Marketing Officer and all around Branding solutions – communication and strategy. I Love it. Long term – look forward to foster other people’s growth and help them realize their professional dreams.
What’s your most important message to the world?
Work hard and be nice to people.
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