For Stefan, his MBA opens doors all over the world

"The curriculum draws on business expertise from around the globe – and you can apply what you learn anywhere in the world."

Stefan Furtado (Brazil)

After four years as a project manager at one of Brazil’s largest department store chains, economist-turned-marketer Stefan Furtado decided it was time to take a step back. He wanted to think about where his career was heading – and discover what he was passionate about.

For a man looking to move towards a more international role, an MBA was the logical next step. And when it came to choosing where to study, Vlerick was the clear choice – as he was already an alumnus of the school.

Stefan gained his Masters in Marketing Management at Vlerick in 2009 – and his experience propelled him towards the full-time MBA in Brussels in 2015.

He says: “Completing my Masters at Vlerick was such a rewarding experience. I loved the open, entrepreneurial nature of the school, and knew exactly what I could expect from the full-time MBA programme. As a travel lover, the location in Brussels was perfect – in the heart of Europe and just hours away from some amazing places. And it’s such a cosmopolitan city – you get all the opportunities and services of a big city, with the intimate feel of a smaller one. The best of both worlds.”

Stefan is the definition of well travelled. He’s visited more than 32 countries, lived in six of them and speaks four languages. So he was keen to take advantage of the international elements of the Vlerick MBA. And from the start, he gained real insight into what it means to do business anywhere in the world.

He says: “The curriculum draws on business expertise from around the globe – and you can apply what you learn anywhere in the world. You share experiences with professors and course colleagues from a number of nationalities. Everyone brings something different to the table – which is so valuable when you’re studying international business.”

Vlerick’s unique approach to learning – combining lectures and seminars with hands-on projects and study trips – took his international experience even further. He says: “One of my most fulfilling experiences was my in-company project. We addressed two challenges for an international company – how they could add value for customers, but also analysing the value of their customers. A highlight was interviewing stakeholders around the world about the services and experiences they wanted from the organisation.”

“Another special experience was a study trip to Beijing, where we had lectures on doing business in China combined with ample networking opportunities on company visits.”  

Having reached the end of his full-time MBA programme, Stefan has seen his skills and confidence grow exponentially. He says: “You get to apply what you learn in the classroom straight away – it’s not just professors teaching theory. This really does give you a great deal of self-confidence in your abilities – you’re actually doing it, not just learning about it.

“I now understand how each department in an organisation operates – and how it affects the company as a whole. Even though I specialise in marketing, I can have productive discussions with a CFO. It’s not just having the right language, it’s having confidence in what you’re talking about – understanding exactly how what you’re proposing will impact on the business.

“Some business schools are all about the hard skills. But they don’t teach you to be a better leader – or a better person. At Vlerick you get personal development skills alongside robust business knowledge. It’s quite something to have had experience trying to make it as a leader. I feel more confident in these skills, thanks to Vlerick.”

Now he’s graduated, Stefan plans to secure a role with an international company – with opportunities to explore new cultures and put his hard-earned skills into practice. But he’s still reflecting on his next step. He says: “It’s not every year you can take time to think about your career and where you want to go in life. It’s yet another plus to doing an MBA – it’s a chance to think and grow.

“An MBA is a huge challenge. But it’s an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life. I couldn’t recommend Vlerick highly enough – I’m really going to miss it.”

& Rankings

Equis Association of MBAs AACSB Financial Times