Santiago is a student on the CEU UCH Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and on the European Business Programme at FH Münster. He has exactly the right profile to feel at home in a city like Düsseldorf and, a few months ago, he started a placement in the finance industry. From there, the economic heart of Europe, Santiago told us all about the passion he feels for working in the industry, his determination to be successful and, most especially, the importance of an international outlook and of always seeking to learn more and stand out from the rest.
Why did you decide to study the dual degree that the University offers in collaboration with FH Münster? What was it that made your mind up to go for such a specific educational programme?
The truth is I’ve always wanted to work in banking, because I’m really passionate about the financial industry. This dual degree gave me the chance to specialize in this area, a perfect opportunity. I didn’t think twice, because of the prestige that FH Münster has: it’s always at the top of the rankings for applied sciences in Germany. And I can tell you that that prestige is well earned, because of the quality of the lecturers, the tutorials which focus on resolving practical cases and the whole educational programme in which quality and internationalization are part of its very identity.
Your international experience continues today with a placement you’re doing in Germany. What exactly are you doing?
Right now I’m working in the BBVA offices in Düsseldorf. I work in the Global Client Coverage department. Our clients are mainly large insurance companies and banks from across the world. We analyse the financial requirements they have and then offer solutions for what they need. These kind of operations can involve, at times, hundreds of millions of euros.
“Finance is a demanding industry, but you can progress quickly.”
Do you think your move to Germany makes your CV more attractive to employers?
The world of finance is very demanding. Just getting your foot in the door is an achievement, and that already says of something of your ability to overcome that challenge, of having a healthy ambition. Leaving prejudices and stereotypes aside, it is true that there is a “German” way of working and organizing things. The concept of performance is different: you work less hours, but they are more productive. The culture is strict both for working hours and of getting things done by the deadline.
Do you think it’ll make your CV stand out?
As I was saying, opting for an experience like this says something about your attitude. A big part of it is psychological: it says something about your personality, about the kind of professional you can be. Being able to embark on a journey like this shows that you’re adaptable and that you have confidence in yourself and your ideas. You’re a person who doesn’t want to limit personal growth and development. That’s the thing that makes me different, and anyone who wants to make an impact on the international stage.
And what are you gaining from this experience on a personal level?
It’s very rewarding culturally. I’m working with people from all over the world. I’ve got colleagues from Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, etc. It’s not something you think about much at the beginning, but as the months go by and you become closer to all these people whose background is so different, you start to look at it differently.
What are the next steps for you after this experience in Germany finishes?
I plan to stay in Germany for the next few years. I can go back to Spain whenever I want, but I’m 21 years old and I think this is where I need to be and I want to spend the next four or five years meeting more people and growing my professional network.
“You can live your whole life in your own country. But getting an education abroad is something you either do now or maybe never.”
Where do you see yourself in ten years, for example? In what area of the industry and in what role do you see yourself working in?
The financial industry is very tough and demanding. You have to work very hard and put a lot of hours in, but you can advance quickly. At that time, I could be in a managerial position because it’s an industry which allows rapid growth.
Tell us what has been the biggest (pleasant) surprise about Germany, educationally, personally or culturally.
It’s surprising to see how many Germans know about Spanish culture and speak our language. They travel a lot, they go around the world, they can afford to spend several months moving around different countries, and that is something that really enriches their own culture. It’s something that you can see after just a two-minute conversation.
What would you say to your fellow undergraduates, the ones who aren’t sure about whether to take the plunge like you and take on an adventure like this?
I would say that it’s not so hard, that you should know that, while the routine you have now at home is great, you can feel great in other places too. And it’s a nice thing to see the world. You can live the rest of your life in your own country – you can go back whenever you want. But this opportunity to get an international education may not come around again. It’s either now or maybe never.
Thank you, Santiago. We hope to have a chance to chat with you again after you graduate from CEU UCH. The path you’ve taken blazes a trail for other people to follow, people who share your determination and passion for a job well done.