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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

CDC Hosts International C-Suite Alumni Career Sharing Session

May 20, 2020. Shanghai – As part of CEIBS’ ongoing series of C-Suite Alumni Career Sharing Sessions, two international alumni were recently invited to share their thought and insights with the students on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thorsten Seeger (MBA2007), CEO of October.eu (Germany), and Jitesh Jaipuriyar (MBA2010), Founder and CEO of Navozyme, shared their insights into their respective industries and offered suggestions and advice on how to find career opportunities during a crisis.


Thorsten started his career at Accenture in Frankfurt, acting as a management consultant in financial services. He then spent 10 years in the conventional banking sector at Barclays and Lloyds in the UK. Thorsten was the Managing Director of Funding Circle in Germany before joining October.eu, a leading alternative lending platform in continental Europe with operations in 5 countries. In his sharing, Thorsten put forward three key points for his job search:

  1. Stay calm and don’t panic;
  2. There is always opportunity somewhere; and,
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.

Upon graduation from university in 2001, Thorsten got a job offer from Accenture with the on-board date in November. However, due to the impact of the 9/11 incident, his on-board date was postponed until May of the following year. The sudden change left him with a half year without employment. Luckily, he secured a 4-month internship opportunity with DaimlerChrysler – one which turned out to be an interesting experience that developed his knowledge on marketing strategies, especially on buses and trucks in Africa and South-East Asia.

“The 6-month gap seemed unacceptable at the time, but nobody really cares whether you joined Accenture in November 2001 or a half year later, so there was no need to freak out,” Thorsten said. He further stated that crises such as 9/11, the global financial crisis from 2008 to 2010, and various regional crises (e.g., the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, which caused major travel disruptions in Europe in 2010) do occur, but how you manage to get through these crises will help you better prepare for the next one.

“It’s important to figure out what your real calling in career and life is,” he said, adding that while quite a few MBA students look for a ‘typical transition’ (e.g., from consulting to investment banking), when they realise their dream, they discover it is far from what they had expected. From Thorsten’s perspective, setting up career goals with a concrete plan is important, but what is crucial is to understand the inner desire which will drive you to a happy career and life.

Thorsten recommended that students also take those ‘less sexy’ industries into consideration. Since opportunities can still be found in a down-market, it is increasingly necessary for MBA students to be flexible. Even if the job is not your dream job, he said, as long as you can learn from it, seize the opportunity by taking it, because as time goes by, it will bring more opportunities in the future.

Speaking about requesting help, Thorsten said it is important to fully prepare before reaching out to alumni. He used an example of sending out a “request for help” email to showcase his point. Thorsten believes that most alumni are willing to support if they receive an email with specific requirements.

Jitesh, on the other hand, joined CEIBS after having commanded large ships, then worked for large MNCs in leadership roles post-MBA. He has created his own ventures which he has been running for the last nine years and currently spearheads digital transformation through his venture Navozyme, which is targeted at the shipping industry through blockchain technology.

In Jitesh’s view, those who held a pessimistic view last year have gained money and those who said the “glass was half full” lost a lot of money. Statistics are great tools, but statistics can be white lies and be overwhelming, he said. As of now, the global GDP has fallen sharply compared with the same period last year, yet there are some specific industries and companies which are doing well and may continue to do so, such as healthcare. Jitesh believes that compared with the global financial crisis over 10 years ago, parallels can’t really be drawn. In his view, once consumption kicks in, a renaissance will follow. In particular, Jitesh stressed three pieces of advice:

  1. Think and plan for the short term;
  2. Focus on entrepreneurship and job creation; and,
  3. Avoid clutter that bothers you.

Jitesh said he encourages graduates to reflect empathy when they meet possible recruiters and conduct enough research to assess how they can contribute in firm’s pain points.

“Many MBA graduates have high expectations for their salary after graduation, but this is not the time to have salary discussions in an interview. Instead, prepare yourself to see what one can bring to the table in terms of competencies and skills,” he said.

During the sharing session, Jitesh also mentioned the importance of establishing interpersonal relationships through networking. For him, he got an opportunity with IBM for internship when he met a senior IBM professional at a restaurant close to CEIBS campus. “Acquaintances can be useful,” he said.

In addition to the above two International C-Suite Alumni Career Sharing Sessions, the CEIBS Career Development Centre (CDC) has also initiated the Vault Sharing Session to help more students make better planning and preparations to search for job opportunities in the global market. The sharing webinar not only presented students with practical points on how to enhance their global job search strategies, but also emphasised the importance of balancing their immediate post-MBA aims and long-standing life goals, with the latter requiring deeper thinking with more time and effort for reflection.

Loewe Wang
Michael Donald Thede