Our former student, Tatiana Vacaru is currently living and working in San Francisco at General Electric.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Moldova where I lived until the age of 15. While I have lived abroad for the last 13 years of my life, Moldova is still what I call home and I go back as often as I can to see my family.
How did you choose to study at IBS? What brought you to Hungary?
Studying abroad has been on my mind since I was very young. There was something about traveling and getting to know new places that attracted me a lot. This is the reason why I decided to attend high school in Bucharest, Romania, as my first studying abroad experience. By my last high school year, I learned that Europe was bigger and had so much more to offer in terms of academic opportunities. Through research, I narrowed down my list to a few options in France and Hungary. During the spring of 2007, I happened to be in Budapest with a volunteering event and so I took the opportunity to visit not only the city, but also the IBS campus. What attracted me the most was the way the curriculum was structured (common year to get my head around which direction I wanted to pursue and placement year to get experience before even graduating), and the fact that students could earn a dual degree (British and Hungarian) in the program taught in English. Living in a beautiful Central European city came as a bonus …. So I signed up.
What was your major interest in IBS? Do you remember a professor who was very important for you and helped you?
Joining IBS, my interest was more towards International Relations, as I wanted a career that would allow me to travel and discover the world. After the 1st year though, having taken classes in accounting, finance and business management, my interest shifted to the business side and decided to join the Finance and Accounting bachelors. I have to admit, the decision came after thoroughly discussing options with my mom. As years go by, I realize she was right in pointing me towards a career that allowed me to not only grow professionally, but also travel the world (it turned out, you can actually do that as a finance professional!).
The programme was not necessarily an easy ride, it required continuous preparation and dedication and obviously an important role was played by the faculty members who taught the classes in a very practical way so we can take those learnings and apply them during the placement year, and also beyond that.
What did you do right after IBS? Where did you spend your placement? What studies, jobs did you take?
After graduating from IBS, I was looking for graduate programs, I knew that big companies have those and they are focused on young professionals who wanted to continue their learning in an actual business environment. Finding out about the Financial Management Program (FMP) at GE, I applied, got selected and started working for the company in August 2011. FMP is a mix of working and studying type of program that lasts 2 years. It consists of 4 rotations in different GE businesses in Europe (I was in Budapest, Florence and Paris) and on top of the job, each rotation has a curriculum assigned that you need to pass in order to maintain program participation. The 4 jobs I did during the 2 years were a mix of accounting, commercial finance and financial planning and analysis, which are core skills for a career in finance in GE.
After successfully completing the two years, GE offers young finance professional the option to either take a regular job in one of the business or apply for another leadership development program called Corporate Audit Staff (CAS). I started CAS in September 2013 and did mainly consulting projects, and also a few financial audits for the GE industrial businesses and also a start up in Colombia. During these 2 years I learned how to solve business problems, no matter how big or small they are and I also got to travel and live around the world (US, Europe, Russia, Colombia, Iceland to name just a few).
What is your present job? How did you get to your present position?
The CAS experience was amazing that also helped me determine where I wanted to take my career next. One of the projects I had worked on was helping a start up in Colombia launch a new product on the market. For 4 months, I worked with a team of engineers, sales representatives and the CEO of the start up to get the product ready to launch. It was such a memorable experience, that I decided to join GE Ventures, a division in GE that is focused on investing and supporting start ups to grow and disrupt the market with new products and new technology. 6 months ago I moved to San Francisco, California where I have been helping the business take technologies available in GE’s research labs to global markets.
Tell a bit about the company where you work, what is it dealing with? Who are the people working there, how do you feel in the team?
California work environment has a different feel to it, due to the Silicon Valley and all major tech companies being present. People come to work here believing what they do can change the world: whether by inventing a new technology, setting up new companies or investing in promising start ups, everyone is at the fore front of change at global scale. Then there are all the companies and the entrepreneurs who made it really far (Mark Zuckerberg Founder and CEO of Facebook, Elizabeth Holmes Founder and CEO of Theranos, Travis Kalanick Co-founder and CEO of Uber, etc.), who add an extra layer of enthusiasm, especially to young professionals looking for inspirational role models.
Who are your friends in San Francisco? How do you spend your free time?
Due to the business dynamic in the Bay Area, there is also a great diversity of young professionals who come from all over the world. Making friends is not difficult, there are many meet up opportunities such as conferences and events where people can network. San Francisco is a very lively city, with lots of opportunities to do outdoor activities (Californians are known for their healthy and fit life style), and also to go out with friends to restaurants and bars. During the weekend I also try to do short distance trips in the Bay Area, whether it’s the Pacific ocean beach, or national parks there are enough options to explore and have fun.