An interview by Viet Ha Tran, Senior Associate Director of Admissions, IE Business School (See original article on Linkedin)

Martina Chen from China graduated from the Master in Advanced Finance at IE Business School in December 2014 after completing a Bachelor in Engineering at Dalian University of Technology, China. Martina has 4 years of work experience in Finance and Entrepreneurship both in China and Spain. Before IE, she worked for The Academy of Macroeconomic Research for the Chinese Center Government, and D&M Co. Ltd, which is the startup she co-founded with her husband to promote import/export business opportunities between China and Europe. Right after finishing the Master program at IE, Martina got a job offer at Ernst & Young Spain for the position of Cross-border M&A Associate. Currently, she is also a member of Beta, Gamma, Sigma Honor Society.

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Viet Ha: Hi Martina, I greatly appreciate your time for this interview despite your hectic daily schedule, I’ve learned that you have recently joined Ernst &Young Spain as a cross-border M&A associate. Can you tell us why you’ve chosen this job?

Martina: Thanks for having me here. I have always been passionate about enhancing investment opportunities between China and Europe, so an M&A-related position is the most relevant role for me in order to develop my field of interest. I’ve chosen Ernst& Young Spain because of its friendly company culture, track records of advising transactions between China and Spain and the challenges that the job brings. I am the only Chinese person in the company now, so I will be involved in building the China Desk for it. I feel like it is somehow like running your own business within a big organization. The entrepreneurial atmosphere in my position really attracts me a lot.

Viet Ha: And what do you do on a daily basis at your job? Martina: As the financial advisor of cross-border transactions at China Desk, I usually represent sellers, European companies; match their needs with Chinese investors who could achieve synergies by acquiring this European company and with all the steps necessary through the entire M&A process. EY has a very strong network and client base in China; also it is a trust-worthy firm owns global reputation. So we have the capacity and expertise to handle cross-border transactions and we are the few advisors could provide turnkey M&A services, including lead advisory, due diligence, valuation, legal and labor advisory, and restructuring.

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Viet Ha: It sounds interesting. Can you share your experience of how IE helped you to find this job?

Martina: Actually, I want to say that without my studies at IE I would have never gotten this job. First of all, the prestige that IE has gained in Europe first sets us apart from other candidates. I have several classmates who have gotten great offers from tier-1 investment banks in London and Switzerland. These investment banks are almost impossible to get in if you are not from their target schools. Second, the knowledge gained from my program really helped me with my interview. All the questions that I was asked during the interview were covered within the program and I did not have any difficulties in answering them. My other classmates told me they had the same feeling during their interviews. Third, the strong network that IE has is essential. You can find IE alumni working in almost all of the top financial institutions in Europe. Usually, IE alumni are very willing to help fresh graduates. You can get first-hand recruitment and business performance information from our alumni easily. Sometimes, they can even pass your resumes directly to the recruiters. Finally, but the most important is the professional attitude of all the professors. I feel really grateful to all my professors. Whenever I have a question regarding the academy or my professional path, I drop them an e-mail and they reply really quickly and they share their valuable work experience with us very honestly. They have always encouraged me when I’ve lost my confidence in achieving my goals. Most professors in my program are practitioners, such as top investment bankers, CEOs and CFOs. But they will always take their time for their students. They are extremely patient in answering our doubts. I am totally impressed and moved by their attitudes. Without their advice, probably now I would still be working in China for a tier-one investment bank but in an operating role. They always emphasize that the company’s name is not as important as your role. You should always start in the position of your interest and from there develop really fast and be a topper in the future.     

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Viet Ha: You have been selected as the IE Woman of the Month for this April, could you share your experience with our alumni as to what challenges women could be facing in their career and how to conquer them?

Martina: The first issue I could think about is that everyone knows how the long working hours in finance make it hard for people in this industry to find a balance between their family and professional life, especially for women. It looks like we have to sacrifice one side. But actually, in financial institutions, usually the higher position you get, the less working hours you will have (even though at that time you will take more responsibilities). My suggestion is to fully focus on career at the initial stage of your professional life. The harder efforts you put, the more time you may gain in the future for your personal life. The second issue I want to mention is the leadership style. Some women may find it very difficult to express their opinions honestly when they think differently than most of their colleagues. Other types of women may also perform too aggressively in a company so as to gain an equal position as men. We know neither type of women could be the ideal candidates for future top leaders. So I always encourage myself to be brave and confident enough to express my opinions in front of people when it may bring value to the business. On the other hand, I always remind myself to build a happy working environment for my colleagues and show respect to everyone, because in the end we are all going to benefit from it.

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