As part of the Alumni career follow up program, IUM ensures it stays up to date with the careers of its alumni students.
To this end, IUM recently met with Nazanine Matin, a Canadian/American IUM MBA alumna, who is now working with Total Impact Capital as Managing Director Europe.
Nazanine has had an impressively diverse career. A graduate in mechanical engineering from UC, Berkeley, she worked in financial planning and analysis for General Electric, as a business consultant at a software startup, in research and development designing coronary stents and now, via an International University of Monaco MBA, as the European MD of a social impact merchant bank.
As an engineer, she worked in R&D designing coronary stents. This, she says, “was an eight-to-five job and I was really young and just got a bit bored and wanted to learn about the IT bubble” so she made the jump to a software startup (which was later bought by Oracle) and spent the next three years “learning a ton” about business processes, supply chain management and logistics. “In the software world and also in a startup, you wear many hats,” she says, “it was a great learning experience.”
Scaling the heights
At General Electric she quickly worked her way up. She started in logistics and then worked in supply chain in the healthcare division and then finance. The reason she moved, she says, “was that I remember reading in Jack Welch’s [the former CEO of GE] book that they spent more than a billion on training employees. And I thought, ‘I want some of that!’ I looked up leadership programs and the one that fitted me most was the corporate audit staff leadership program.” She then made the jump from operations to finance, on the basis that were she ever to meet the chair or CEO at dinner, they would rather hear about numbers than operations.
Back to school for the MBA Alumna
Thirteen years on the corporate treadmill were, she says, exhausting, so she took a sabbatical to determine what she really wanted to do with her life. Taking time off to come to Monaco to visit family, she eventually enrolled on the MBA in luxury management at the International University of Monaco in June 2013, focusing on marketing, brand management, venture capital and entrepreneurship. “It was the right place at the right time.”
What are the main positive impacts of the International University of Monaco professionally?
“After being at a big name school and at big name companies I was tired of the competition,” she explains, “it’s well-balanced here. Students aren’t competing against each other. Everybody was looking for a life change. We were here to learn the foundation of business, entrepreneurship and luxury. In addition, the student-teacher ratio is really good and there’s a real one-on-one approach. There was also a lot of hands-on experience, inside and outside the classroom (mentorship program, networking, LinkedIn profile tips) as well as case studies and simulations.
Finally, the visiting professors at the university, says Nazanine, were all real business people in the real world with their own businesses, “when they are coming to teach you, they are using real life examples, in today’s business area, so we were really getting the latest and greatest information on how to be successful.”
The MBA for Nazanine was, “a way to step back from 13 years of hard work and re-evaluate what was important to me.”
“I have always loved luxury and I liked the idea of living here,” she adds, we get 300 days of sunshine here. We’re really spoiled.”
We were a very small class and all from quite diverse backgrounds so I made some great friends too.”
Last but not least, it is one of the most affordable MBAs in Europe: “I knew I wouldn’t leave with a huge debt so that was very important.”
What has been a benefit of having an IUM MBA and having that learning in term of looking for a job afterwards?
Of course, with an MBA it’s all about what you do with it. “The benefits of the MBA is really the amount of people that you meet or you network with during your MBA. It is really in the student’s hands” she explains. Nazanine says, “Many people confuse an MBA with a school having to find you a job. We all own our own brand and careers and it’s up to us to get out there, network and meet people. If you do a good job, the brand you portray is one they’re interested in and they will open their door.” One of her finance professors did open the door and asked her to work for him in Monaco.
MBA Alumna Nazanine now works for Total Impact Advisors, intermediaries between investors and social entrepreneurs. “We are a financial company looking to become the biggest merchant bank in the social sector,” she explains. “We find people to invest in companies that will have a social impact in the world.” These could be anything from providing clean water and a higher level of education to connecting people with doctors or recycling used tyres.” Nazanine is the European MD, charged with helping to build a European growth strategy. The thing that unites the companies is that they are scalable businesses; commercial companies that have a social impact. Though every single deal is different, says Nazanine, “One of our criteria is that we’re helping to improve the standard of living of someone, somewhere’s . Can we help them in the way they want us to help them and be successful? Is it really scalable and is it a business that’s going to impact?”
People need people
Nazanine took the job primarily because of her boss and, she says, “one thing I learned is who you work for and who you work with is really important. I really believed in his values and how he treats people and how much I could learn from him. It’s an investment in his company and someone I would like to have as a mentor.” She adds, “When you meet people that inspire you and you believe in their vision and what they’ve done, you are pretty lucky to have them ask you to work for them.”
Favourite business book
“When I was doing my MBA I was constantly comparing everything to Jim Collins’ Good To Great, which I read it almost ten years ago. He used 40 years of data and thousands of companies to identify trends. Being an engineer I find data very powerful and convincing. I believed in what he said about what makes a good CEO. Of course, I challenged it a lot with new principles I learned at school but I still love it.”
Favourite motivational quotes
“You can have your dream job and hate coming to work every day or you can have a so-so job and a great boss and love coming to work every day.” Former president of the Guidant Corporation, Ginger Graham.
“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Madeleine Albright.
“If today was the last day of your life would you want to do what you are about to do today?” Steve Jobs.
Favourite productivity tools
“I would say the one thing I can’t live without is my calendar. I have to make sure everything is updated. If it’s not on there then I will miss it. I rely on it completely.”
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