Hello! I am Maria Navalikhina and I graduated from the GSOM twice: as a bachelor of public administration in 2012 and as a master in international business in 2014. Currently I am working in Moscow at the Unilever Company – one of the leading FMCG players producing foods and home & personal care goods – as a management trainee at Unilever Future Leaders Program. Within this program I am being rotated for 3 – 6 months in different departments in order to get the helicopter view about Unilever’s business, but my “home” and prior function is marketing.
Selection process for this program is rather tough: only 15 candidates out of ~2 500 applicants get the job. Our work is project-based and assumes your full responsibility for the end result. Often it requires to coordinate the actions of a big cross-functional team (e.g. to launch a new product on time it’s necessary to regulate the actions of marketing, supply chain, R&D, fabric planning, design agencies, raw materials suppliers and of a global brand team). We should be always ready to jump out of our comfort zone to solve new uncommon problems under time pressure or to be rotated to another city (and sometimes – to another country). We constantly learn and develop here at Unilever both during various trainings and during the work process itself.
Honestly, approximately till my 3rd bachelor year I had no exact idea what I wanted to do in my life. But what helped me to make this choice and to be where I am now was studying at the GSOM and those opportunities the School provides its students with. Exchange semesters taught me how to cope with difficulties and troubles and not to be afraid of life changes. Constantly high expectations of the School from its students taught me how to cope with serious workload and to make priorities. And perfectly developed partnership network of the GSOM with the leading companies from various industries gave me access to different master-classes of business representatives and student business cases championships. Being a GSOM student I successfully participated in business games provided by L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble и McKinsey & Co and completed a 3 months internship in one of those companies. All this helped me a lot to understand where I would like to work after graduation.
But do not think that the GSOM diploma opens all the doors automatically for you – it absolutely doesn’t. Use those unique opportunities the School gives you, grab them and take the utmost of it because they are your key to success. Don’t be afraid to try something new and never stand still. And what’s the most important, never spare yourself and work, work hard: you never know what you are really capable of until you try!