My Journey to the Centre of the Business of Fashion

From Romania, to Spain, to China

I was born in Romania, a country with fewer people than Shanghai (where I live today). As a kid, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up – as if being a grown-up was the finish line and if you just became something that that was the end. Like every child, I had many dreams and hopes, but I never imagined that life would take me to so many places, or that I would experience so many different cultures or meet so many people with such diverse backgrounds.

My journey started when I was a young teenager. My parents and I moved from Romania to Salamanca, Spain, where I learned a new language, adapted to a new culture, and made new friends.

I was always passionate about fashion, and my free time as a teenager was mainly dedicated to reading fashion magazines, hypnotised by the creativity and diversity of fashion pictures.

Once I understood that Barcelona was where most of the Spanish fashion businesses were, I chose a college there for my undergraduate studies. I learned Catalan and started a new life in a city that I loved immediately. I graduated from the University of Barcelona with a degree in Business Administration and Management, and started my professional life as an auditor with Deloitte.

After a few years, following my enthusiasm for fashion, I joined Mango, overseeing the buying strategy team and offering counsel to their biggest wholesale partners around the world. This role gave me the opportunity to travel the world, which is when I realised how the centre of the business of fashion and retail had moved to Shanghai. I noticed that Shanghai had become the new global epicentre of fashion retail and a place where new trends were born and most influential decisions were being made. It is for that very reason that I moved to Shanghai more than four years ago, equipped only with my ambition to live and work “where the action is.” I have never regretted my decision.

Arriving at CEIBS

As I made progress, my goal and the ambitions became clearer. I had always followed my passion for the fashion industry and I was lucky enough to build a path that step-by-step has taken me closer to the centre of the business of fashion – from financial auditing to fashion in Barcelona to international exposure. In China, my objective became even clearer, and with it, the few steps that I had to take to make it happen. In particular, I needed to begin to understand the particularities of the Chinese market, learn the Chinese language and understand the subtleties of the Chinese culture, get exposed to China’s very advanced digital ecosystem and find the right MBA programme.

Unlike most academic degrees, an MBA is rooted in the reality and practicality of the world community, business trends, and economic shifts. It is for these reasons that I think CEIBS’ location is a massive advantage. My understanding is that an MBA’s value depends on how connected it is to the outside world and where its students and faculty come from.

My first four terms at CEIBS have been an intense and rewarding experience. I’m honoured to be part of such a unique, talented, and diverse group of people. Compared to other top business schools, CEIBS’ student body is relatively smaller, which enhances the sense of community and camaraderie amongst classmates. Balancing school work, career search, social events, club activities, and your personal life takes practice; luckily CEIBS’ community of MBAs and EMBAs is really helpful in offering guidance and advice on how to effectively walk this path and fully benefit from the MBA journey.

The CEIBS MBA Class of 2021 is full of students from all walks of life, each with a wealth of experience and talent. Teamwork is ingrained in the CEIBS culture, and student teams are designed by the school to guarantee a great mix of diversity that encompasses geography, education, and professional backgrounds. This ensures that students are always learning from their teammates, provides a safe space to fail and learn from mistakes, and cultivates a collaborative work style (a trait much appreciated by employers).

My term-2 team

We have greatly enjoyed the in-class learnings, as much as we have enjoyed the extra activities – and believe me, there were many. And although the past few months have been particularly challenging, as we could not conduct any regular academic activities on campus, we are still a strong family no matter the distance, leveraging technology to ensure continuity, while staying safe.

Attending class via Zoom

And, while we are waiting for things to get better, we feel grateful for the memories that we are creating together, and for the long-lasting friendships we are making along the way.

Shanghai Night boat party; Halloween Night

One of the countless late night dinners

As we approach the halfway point of our MBA journey, I look back in awe at how fast these months have passed. I get a little emotional, when I think about how most of us will shortly have to choose separate paths, but I feel tremendously grateful for the time we were able to spend together.

INNOVATEChina team

Besides, an MBA is only the starting line of our relationship with our business school. Soon, we will become alumni, and will take on the role of mentors for students in future classes, recruiters for graduates of the future, and will remain members of the CEIBS community, with the opportunity to extend the network of our school as well as leverage it to stay in touch with our classmates and make new friends, in Shanghai, in China, and around the world.

As China continues its path towards becoming the largest economy in the world, I feel so fortunate to have begun this new chapter of my life in Shanghai, and to have had the opportunity to join the CEIBS Class of 2021.