MBA alumnus working in Sao Paulo’s Citibank Offices

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Nicolas GBIOriginally from the Philippines, Nicolas Pinga earned an MBA in 2016 from the McDonough School of Business. After graduation, he joined Citibank in New York as a global engagement management associate under the company’s global leadership program, which aims to develop high-potential candidates for future leadership roles. He currently is assigned to Citibank’s office in São Paulo, Brazil.

Why did you want to pursue an MBA? What area did you focus on and why?
I decided to pursue an MBA to develop a more holistic skill set, cultivate my international network, and gain access to opportunities that otherwise would not have been available to me. I knew I wanted to work in different countries and develop an international career. I focused on the financial services industry, and with the help of Georgetown’s strong network, I was able to find a job that suits my career goals and interests.
 
What motivated you to take on a job opportunity in São Paulo?
In the second year of my MBA, I did my Global Business Experience consulting project in São Paulo and found the city to be vibrant and exciting. I knew I wanted to come back to live here at some point, but never expected it to happen so soon. Equally exciting to me was the opportunity to learn a new side of the financial services industry..

What is your current role at Citibank in Brazil? What excites you the most about this new work opportunity?
I am part of Citibank’s global management associate development program, which provides me with cross-business and cross-geography assignments.

I currently have two roles. First, I analyze and assess various Latin American power and utility companies under the credit and portfolio risk analytics team. Second, I assist my manager, who is the global head covering the other risk analytics teams, in coordination with the offices in Buenos Aires, Buffalo, Manila, Mexico City, and Mumbai, in addition to the team in Brazil.

What excites me the most is the opportunity to learn a different side of the financial services industry (credit and risk), while being completely immersed in a new language and culture.

What are your impressions after living in this city?

Despite the challenges that the city and the country are currently facing, it’s easy to love São Paulo. The people are very warm, the culture is immensely rich, and there is opportunity for significant professional growth, as the market here is quite large.

What advice do you have for MBA students who would like to pursue a similar international career path?
1. Develop competencies or a professional profile that is hard to replicate and is transferrable across geographies. In my case, my experience prior to business school was in capital raising in the developing markets and financial analysis. At the same time, I’ve always enjoyed studying languages. I speak Portuguese and Filipino fluently and had previously studied Latin for six years. Your local counterparts will have a better understanding and knowledge of the markets they are in, so you will have to find a way to add value, which can come in the form of having a global perspective, knowledge of international best practices, languages skills, etc.

2. Take genuine interest in people who are different from you – where they are from, their culture, etc. The learning from such meaningful relationships is immeasurable.

3. Be comfortable with the unknown. An international career is unpredictable and may take a toll on your personal life. However, it is manageable and incredibly rewarding.

What classes did you enjoy the most at Georgetown McDonough and why?
Two classes come to mind: Critical Conversations and Negotiations. What I learned was applicable both in my professional and personal life.

What do you miss the most of Georgetown University?
I miss the friendships I made, as we are all now scattered all over the world. I also miss the ability to explore subject matters out of pure interest.