ESADE Alumni Hamburg Chapter
The Hamburg Chapter was launched in January with the objective of promoting activities to help project ESADE’s image as a leading international business school and to expand the alumni community in Hamburg. We had the chance to talk with its president, Cristina Manchado (MDMC 06).
-The Hamburg Chapter was launched in January this year. How did the idea come about to create a new Chapter in Germany?
I had just arrived in Hamburg for the first time and, after discovering there was a 70-person strong alumni community in the city, we thought there was no time to lose. We tried to contact everyone individually and sent out an email suggesting a date and location for the inauguration event. We wanted as many alumni as possible to be able to take part. I have been very fortunate because we have Vicente Vento (Lic&MBA 04), the vice-president of the Chapter and a key partner in terms of the Chapter’s success, on the board.
-What are your medium-term goals? How do you organise the Chapter?
We haven’t been up and running for long. However, we believe it is important to consolidate the Chapter and focus on sharing the entrepreneurship and talent of our members. Some members are involved in innovative projects, while others hold key positions in large organisations. We can learn a great deal from these experiences. Also, promoting ourselves internally is inspiring and increases synergies.
On the one hand, we want to offer interesting activities so that alumni can invite and involve their closest contacts. On the other hand, we aim to forge relations with industry, universities and business schools in Hamburg. This approach will improve our visibility and allow us to promote the Chapter and those in it. We have already taken the first step this year by sharing an afterwork session, organised by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. I firmly believe that we need to focus our efforts in this direction.
Regarding how we work, we plan activities for the current year to encourage networking opportunities, with innovation as the central theme.
-What has been the response of the alumni? What feedback have you received following the events? What do you think they expect from the Chapter?
The alumni’s response has been magnificent. The big surprise has been seeing more than 100 people passing through our Chapter in the last year alone. What’s more, our events have attracted a diverse range of participants from Hanover, Bremen and Berlin, thanks to the types of activities we offer. It’s all very encouraging.
In terms of what the alumni expect from the Chapter, I think they value three main aspects: the informal and welcoming style of our events, staying “connected”, and innovative sessions to keep up to date with those driving the business world of the future.
-What does this experience mean for you professionally and personally?
Both professionally and personally, being part of an ESADE Alumni Chapter enables me to meet people and connect quickly with the business environment of the city. In fact, Cargonexx, a German company where I am now embarking on a new stage in my career, contacted me thanks to one of our ESADE events. I think it is a very positive sign that the logistics and transport sector’s most innovative start-up in Hamburg has people from ESADE.
-What is it like to live and work in Hamburg? What advice would you give to alumni who are thinking of working in Germany?
Hamburg is the wonderful and largely unknown city of northern Germany. It doesn’t promote itself a lot and has little tourism as it has the second largest port in Europe and the highest GDP in Germany. Therefore, it is a very active city with lots of resources. It is a beautiful city with large parks and a network of canals through which the River Elbe flows.
What advice do I have for alumni thinking of working in Germany? Of course, it is true that the language is quite difficult for those of us whose mother tongue is a Romance language, there are fewer hours of sunlight, and we don’t have the Mediterranean climate here. What’s more, it’s a good idea to find some sort of activity or routine, otherwise, the bad weather can start to get you down. However, despite all this, if you have the chance and would like to spend time in Germany, you shouldn’t think twice. Don’t put it off for another day. Stop thinking about it and take the plunge. After all, Germany is one of our neighbours, and we can learn a lot from this country. Likewise, we can also contribute and teach Germany many things. And no matter how hard it may be initially, the personal experience you come away with is invaluable.
-How did your international experience begin? How important is it for you to have a support network?
My work experience began over 20 years ago at the Italian pharmaceutical group Angelini. I started by coordinating communication projects with Italy and, after specialising in marketing, I was put in charge of healthcare products. Later, during my ten years at Esteve, I also broadened my international experience as the product manager for Portugal and the head of medications with international licenses. Working in companies with a global outlook significantly enhances how you approach your work and personal interactions. But none of this compares to moving to a new city, as I have done this year. Here, I would like to emphasise the fantastic support of the ESADE Alumni International Network. When you arrive in a city like Hamburg, and you don’t know a soul, you have no references to follow, and you encounter numerous cultural differences, the support of ESADE Alumni International is a huge benefit. It is a comforting home from home, a meeting point where you can continue to learn, and, most importantly, a group of professionally-connected people, which is extremely useful when looking for a new professional venture.
Forming part of ESADE Alumni International offers lots of advantages and is a gift that I would recommend to all alumni thinking about spending time abroad.
– What does ESADE alumni mean to you?
For me, ESADE is a professional catalyst, a meeting place with leadership values at its core, which inspires, connects, drives ideas, and boosts initiatives. This is a valuable asset for the future in the current business world. Ultimately, I am very proud to be involved and want to promote ESADE alumni so that many others can benefit from it too.