Category: MBA Graduate Profiles
New Horizons for a Frequent Flier
Airports represent a gateway to adventure for many people. They’ve been that to Alex Bonder Weissbrod (MBA’13), too. He’s traveled throughout Europe, South America, Israel, New Zealand, and Japan. For Bonder, however, airports have also been a workplace and a place of wonder.
Growing up in Mexico City, as the child (and brother) of physicians, Bonder traveled frequently with his family. But as much as he enjoyed their destinations, Bonder found the airports themselves fascinating. He quickly learned which airlines represented which countries and would check to see which nations were in attendance during his airport visits.
As he got older, he was the one who planned the family trips, giving more attention to the nuances of the journey than any travel agent might. He learned about airline hubs, compared loyalty programs, and discovered the quirks of various aircraft types.
It seemed inevitable that Bonder would work for an airline, and after graduating from college with a degree in economics, he did. He began working in revenue management for Aeromexico, eventually becoming the chief of staff for the organization’s CEO.
He believed he had found his dream job. Making a commitment to the airline industry in Mexico, however, meant making a commitment to continuing his education. The executives at Aeromexico, Bonder says, all have impressive graduate degrees, including MBAs and PhDs.
Not surprising for someone interested in hubs, Bonder looked to the city known as The Hub for a graduate school. Bonder had come to Boston as a teenager to study English.
“All the students in the area bring energy to the region,” he says. “I came to Boston because I wanted to change my style of living. Compared to Mexico City, an amazing cosmopolitan city with over 21 million people, Boston is a small town. I like that it is rich in culture, and that I can walk everywhere. I think that being in a different environment enhances your learning experience,” he says.
He was impressed with the School of Management’s (SMG) general management program. When he visited the school, he found the students to be very friendly. Now, after just a few months at SMG, he feels his classmates are “like family.”
Perhaps unexpected for a man who is used to the view at 35,000 feet, he has found that his horizons are opening up as well. Living in a city that is a global leader in health care, Bonder is giving the family business, medicine, a second look.
A class with Associate Professor Melvyn Menezes has given him a new passion for marketing, as well. “Before I came to SMG, I wasn’t interested in the field,” he says. “I never thought of it as being much more than just advertising. But the marketing class has been just amazing. We’ve learned a lot of strategies,” Bonder says.
After receiving his degree, Bonder may return to the airline industry. But because of the new vistas that SMG has opened, he’s considering other possibilities as well. Guided by a career advisor at the Feld Career Center, Bonder has attended multiple panels on the consulting field. He’s intrigued by the industry’s multiple management challenges.
Working for a consulting firm might offer a new adventure while still allowing him to work with the airlines, he says. It might also give him experience in his new interests in health care and marketing. Whatever comes next on Bonder’s journey, it’s clear the flight plan will have multiple destinations.
By Madeline Bodin
Horsfield (MBA’13) Wants to Shape the Future of News
Olivia Horsfield (MBA’13) is passionate about the importance of the media. “Quality news has an important role in society,” she says. “It calls powerful individuals to account, and it has entertainment value.”
However, you won’t find newsprint ink smudging Horsfield’s fingertips. For her, the future of media is digital. She’s eager to help the industry evolve from ink on paper to pixels in cyberspace. Horsfield, a Fulbright scholarship student from London, is finding that the School of Management (SMG) is helping her evolve, too, from a market researcher to a well-rounded business strategist.
Horsfield studied history at Oxford University. She “just sort of fell into market research,” knowing that it played to her strengths. “History is all about understanding people and their actions,” she says, and so is marketing.
After working for a large market research firm in her native Britain, Horsfield began doing market research for the Guardian Media Group (in Britain), which has more online traffic than either USA Today or The Wall Street Journal. Horsfield’s research drove the Guardian newspaper’s successful iPhone app introduction two years ago, and informed the relaunch of its Sunday sister publication The Observer last year.
However, Horsfield would rather guide this electronic media revolution than merely provide data for it, so she decided to continue her studies.
Her Fulbright stipulated that she study in the United States, and among US graduate business schools, she was attracted to SMG’s reputation in technology management and its broad-based curriculum that embraces nonprofit as well as for-profit management.
“The broad business background offered here is what I lacked,” Horsfield says. The diversity in the program offerings also reflected the diversity of her fellow students’ interests, she says. “They’re not all management consultants and bankers. Their interests are broad and they’re socially conscious, which makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable.”
As a first-year MBA, Horsfield feels she has already learned lessons she’ll use for the rest of her career, particularly during the Integrated Project course, which allowed her to work in a team with five other students and apply what she learned in her core classes to a simulated brand acquisition. She’s also looking forward to the technology courses in her second year that will allow her to benefit from SMG’s expertise in technology management.
After graduating, the terms of her Fulbright mean that Horsfield must return to Britain, but she can envision herself working in the United States in the future. She plans to work as a strategic management consultant for the media industry, either for a boutique, or for a larger management-consulting firm. She’s also considering going back to a media firm, like the Guardian or Google, but this time working in strategy rather than market research.
“From an intellectual perspective, the challenges the media industry is facing make it very exciting,” Horsfield says. While some in the newspaper industry see technology and the Internet as its downfall, Horsfield sees them as both the industry’s savior and a perk of being knowledgeable in the field. “With the technology—Facebook, Twitter, smartphones—you feel like you’re always on the cutting edge.”
By Madeline Bodin