Interview: Claudia Bock-Valotta
Currently, Claudia Bock-Valotta He works as General Manager of the Human Resources Department of the Inter-American Development Bank. She is a lawyer by profession, has a broad and distinguished professional career, which includes a position in the Development Aid area at the UN, as an international consultant on strategy and organizational change projects, and in the budget area at the European Central Bank.
He had a lot of practical experience, but he wanted more preparation, so he decided to study an MBA at the University of Basel, Switzerland. In this interview conducted by Andrea Isaza-Roquebert, an INCAE 2018 MBA graduate, she tells us about her experience studying a postgraduate degree and advises future students and graduates.
What was the most important lesson the MBA taught you?
Especially since I took the MBA already in the middle of my career, the master's degree was a tool for me to organize my knowledge and put everything in the appropriate box. Throughout your professional life you will acquire tools and as you take positions of greater relevance and with greater decision-making power, you will learn and train professionally. The MBA helped me catalog and name what I already knew.
So the most important lessons that the MBA left me were: first, you know more than you think you know, the MBA was a lesson in self-confidence. And second, an MBA gives you tools to know where to look for what you don't know. In good universities they teach you to think, to question, to know your limitations of what you know and where to go to look for what you do not know. They also teach you the need for continuous improvement, how important it is to be up to date and alert, they whet your appetite to know more.
Some of my colleagues, before coming to study at INCAE, did not have careers related to business and felt that the MBA was going to be what would help them change careers. Some are lawyers, like you, others are architects or designers. They feel that when they return to work they do not have the necessary experience to get jobs in administrative areas, for example. What advice would you give them?
What you say is interesting because it is true that there is a gap between what the market sometimes asks for and the preparation that students who seek a career change bring with them and who study a second career for that. The market and the people who are in recruiting positions are paying much attention to experience; When in fact, and I tell you as a human resources manager, what you have to look for is competence, never experience.
Since this is still not understood by most people, then you need your CV to tell a story. The CV should explain what you have done and how what you have done relates to what you want to do. It should show how what you have learned in your second career gives you the tools to take the step forward. In other words, you should emphasize transferable skills between your first career and your second. For example, if you are an architect studying an MBA because you want to pursue a career in business, your CV should tell what you have done as an architect that would help you in the field of business. Have you worked as a team? Have you met your delivery dates? Have you worked on a project? When managing projects you manage teams, budgets, objectives, deliverables. That is what needs to be noted.
You have to fascinate recruiters with your story and show that your first career gives you something different. The one who already worked in a bank does what everyone does, but with a second career you bring a different perspective. Also, you have an artistic sensibility, a human competence, you have emotional intelligence, etc. You have to highlight in your story what is relevant in the business world. You have to present yourself with the key competencies for the position you are looking for.
What would you say are the competencies a person needs to have to become a successful manager?
You have to have excellent soft skills, be an excellent communicator, be inspirational, and have leadership skills. There is a difference between being a manager and being a leader. You can be a very good manager because you give results, you plan well, you manage budgets, you deliver within the established deadlines, you have the ability to evaluate and make decisions. That is managing. A good manager has to be able to manage human resources, technology and financial resources. But to be a little more, leadership conditions come and there comes the ability to inspire a team, give it objectives and make them have more vision, more ambition, more aspirations. Taking care of your people, looking at the equipment you have and understanding their skills and abilities to try to feed them and make them grow. That is also for me a condition of an ideal manager, to be a leader and not only to manage.
This is an excerpt from the interview conducted by Andrea Isaza (MBA 2018), which was originally published in Issue # 12 of the incatraz magazine.