How I Got My Dream Job Thanks to IE

Written on January 27, 2015 by MRCB Staff & Students in Careers in Market Research & Consumer Behavior, News

Speaking with Svetlana Aristarkhova, you can’t help noticing the shine in her eyes when she is talking about her job at Gazprom Neft and her studies at IE. She says that she found her dream job and is doing exactly what she was always dreaming about. She also adds that the Master in Market Research and Consumer Behaviour from IE Business School was the stepping stone to her current position and prepared her well for her everyday work.
svetlana aristarkhova

Svetlana, would you tell us more about your job at Gazprom Neft and your responsibilities?

I am leading specialist in Advertising and Promotion department of Gazprom Neft, the fourth largest oil producer in Russia. More specifically, I support corporate sales in the B2B sector.

My position formally belongs to the marketing department, but since our division is still quite young, I was the very first person joining the marketing department and thus have very broad responsibilities. And I love it! Apart from my direct responsibilities, such as developing and implementing advertising strategy, placing adverts, etc., I am directly involved in the strategy and product development. Additionally, I have nine geographical divisions under my supervision, and it makes my job very diverse and never boring! Of course, being the only one in the department means having to deal with the whole workload all by my own, but it is also extremely interesting and makes my brain work non stop.


That sounds great! How did you land this job and what other career paths did you consider after the graduation?

In April this year, while still studying at IE, I sent my CV to Gazprom Neft, had three interviews in total, and when I came back to Saint Petersburg in July, I received a call from the HR manager who invited me to join their team.

Apart from Gazprom Neft, I had several interviews with a leading marketing agency in Moscow, a Swiss luxury brand, a large multinational company and was even considering joining a Spanish startup. But I decided to accept the Gazpom’s offer and never regretted it!

I must say that I began searching for a job very early on – two months after the program’s start. Now, looking back, I think it was too early, and the best time to start sending out resume is approximately two months before the end of the program.


During your communication with Gazprom Neft and other companies, did you have a feeling that IE’s name has a special value? 

Definitely!  For instance, during my interview with the general director, we were talking extensively about the projects I was doing at IE, especially in the B2B sector, and he was quite impressed. He also appreciated the European experience and outlook that I would bring with into the company. Gazpom Neft was built using the best European practices, and so they appreciate having people who share the same values. Also, thanks to my experience and knowledge I gained at IE, I was offered a higher position than initially searched for. So, IE played a very important role in my job search and consecutive employment.


And you yourself, how do you evaluate the knowledge and skills that you gained at IE? Did they prove useful for your day-to-day work?

More than that! Our program was very practice-oriented and well-rounded. It was split into three trimesters, each covering a particular area of market research and consumer behaviour.  During the first trimester, we learned about psychology, in general terms as well as the market and consumer psychology. This trimester was particularly focused on qualitative research.
Then, during the second trimester, we looked at the quantitative research tools and had many statistics classes. And finally, during the third trimester, we had classes that dealt with marketing, management and branding. In total, we had more than 30 disciplines that covered everything around market research and consumer behaviour, which allowed us to get a great insight into our area of expertise.

In addition, at IE I gained invaluable communication experience and exposure to many different cultures. In my class alone, we had people from 37 different countries. It was such an incredible experience! Already in the morning, you received the latest updates from the all over the world just by saying “Hi” to people. If you wanted to better understand some happenings in other parts of the world, you simply had to come up to a person from that country and speak with him or her.

Also, we had an enormous workload at IE and were working on many different projects simultaneously, which required stress resistance and time management. And these are exactly the skills that help me succeed in my everyday work. With so many responsibilities and tight deadlines to manage, I am able to cope it only thanks to my experience at IE.


We haven’t yet discussed why you chose IE in the first place. What brought you to the school?

During my fourth year at the university, I went to France for one academic year, and there I had many Spanish friends. I enjoyed being around them, listening to their language and getting infected with their cheerfulness and positive attitude to life. Funny that while in France I fell in love with Spain and decided that I definitely had to explore that country one day.

As I was approaching the graduation at my university in Russia, I knew I wanted to do a master degree in marketing, and it should be in Spain. So I went to a fair featuring leading universities, noticed the IE booth, talked with the school representative, undertook my research on the program, liked it a lot and applied!


And now that you are almost half a year away from IE, what are you missing most?

I am especially missing diversity that the school is so famous for. Talking to people of different backgrounds is so enriching! Also, I am very much missing that unstoppable flow of information that we were exposed to at IE. I basically had no free second, the brain was working all the time. It was difficult but at the same time so incredibly interesting! And of course I am missing my former classmates. They made the year at IE unforgettable!


Looking through kaleidoscope of optimism: life at IE

Written on September 5, 2014 by MRCB Staff & Students in Student Life

While I write this blog, it is raining heavily in New Delhi. With each drop of rain, and its tip-top voice falling into my ears, all I am getting reminded of is how with each drop of water, a sea transforms into an ocean. I know I should be thinking of something very fragile and nice. But as my mind wanders a little further, it takes me to a question, or more so a situation, that what if it keeps raining continuously for the next sixty days orRachit so?!

Of course, a very obvious situation would be that of a flood like situation, that water level would rise and it would be a difficult scenario to live routine life. But that is obvious! And given this situation in reality, a lot of people would simply swing into awry. But my question is not what would happen; it is rather: what could we do to live in such a situation.

Would we go snorkeling, just swimming, or sailing to live? My idea is whatever way, you got to live and live with hopes of better things to happen in future. I would go sailing although! That is what metamorphosis is: a transformation into something really different of a particular procedure. As a drop of water gets metamorphose into a sea and a gigantic ocean one day, life lived with hope and attitude of rising from setbacks metamorphose into a life led successfully with grandeur.

Now as I reverse my mind’s gear to come to reality, I have come to realize why I am thinking about transformations and why each drop of rain is reminding of seas and oceans and not a cup of coffee or something really crispy to eat!

Actually all this is just like the journey, and I am sure for many too, of getting into IE. Each drop of rain getting transformed into sea is like each moment of life getting together to put forth a strong candidature to get in, and then the conversion into a gigantic ocean is like getting transformed from a rational human-being into a person full of apt knowledge and set to succeed and create difference in business world after graduating.

As I get my kaleidoscope of optimism out, I am really looking forward towards my life at IE with a lot of hope, knowledge, friends, fun, and explore the beautiful city of Madrid.

Written by: Rachit Kapoor, India, MRCB ’15


I consider myself extremely fortunate having been selected by IE, and ESOMAR, a worldwide association for market researchers, to attend the Qualitative 2013 conference in the beautiful city of Valencia, Spain. The two-day event centered upon the theme of “Brilliant Transformations,” and brought a number of the brightest minds across the industry together, in a forum to share innovative projects and ideas. I participateESOMAR IE Studentsd in the conference as a Networking Facilitator through ESOMAR’s Future Talent Meets the Industry initiative, which aims to educate and expose future market researchers to the current talent.

Before the conference started, a fellow MRCB’er, chosen by ESOMAR, and I traveled to Valencia a couple days early to explore the city. This was one of the best decisions I made that week! Our hotel stood right on the foot of the breathtaking Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, a linear architectural complex based in a former riverbed. This series of modern structures provides a fascinating contrast to the much more historic city center. After exploring both of these areas (during the day and night), we ventured to La Malvarrosa Beach, and enjoyed some Valencian beer, made surprisingly enough, with seawater. Although it sounds strange, it was delicious, and offered the perfect compliment to the seafood paella we enjoyed overlooking the water.

When the conference began with a networking session of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres I learned my position technically entailed helping with logistical matters; but the ESOMAR staff was so incredibly well prepared, that I spent the majority of my time mingling with others. It was unduly refreshing that the staff’s main priority was to allow the five Facilitators (three from IE, and two from other Spanish Universities) to network and learn from the exceptionally diverse attendees. I must admit, as a student with no prior experience in the field of Market Research, approaching some of the participants was quite intimidating. However, I quickly found out that qualitative researchers are some of the most open and welcoming professionals, which seems obvious as their job usually entails these traits. This stereotype apESOMAR presentationplied to both the participants who ESOMAR selected to share their research papers, and those who were simply present to hear their peer’s thoughts. Many levels of management were present, but there seemed to be a great deal of participants who assumed leadership roles in their companies, whether by ascension or creation. During the first session I was privileged to meet the CEO of the Advertising Research Foundation, Gayle Fuguitt; Stacy Graiko, Director at Firefly Millward Brown; Ray Poynter, Director at Vision Critical University; Jack Ramsey, Social Strategist for VisionsLive, and also reconnected with IE Professor Andrew Vincent, founder of Waves Research UK. Thirty-five countries and seventy-five companies were present, yet regardless of an individual’s background, everyone seemed happy to share insights about navigating the industry.

Perhaps the most salient portion of the conference occurred when the 250 participants split up into roughly twelve groups to discuss topics pertinent to the current market researcher. Our group depressingly received, “What are the biggest threats to qualitative research, and how do you see this affecting the industry?” Initially, I watched, fascinated, as such a diverse group of individuals attempted to communicate, and then related their strategies to my own group work at IE. Age does not change the fact that working with others is, at times, difficult! However, my group eventually agreed that the biggest threat to their industry is convincing upper level management and C-suite individuals of the significance of qualitative research. This was not exactly an encouraging development, but as one fellow member told me, “It’s your job to overcome this perception.”

Her words resonated with me, and I think summarized the broader implications of this conference. I was there to learn about the industry, both the good and the bad. Consequently, it is now my responsibility to utilize the knowledge gained in conjunction with my own ideas to situate myself within this exciting profession.

Skylar Elisberg, MRCB ’14, USA 

Skylar in Valencia


Imagen1Seven months ago I was about to begin the third (and final) semester of my master’s in Market Research & Consumer Behavior. I was full of anticipation. Not only for what this last semester would bring, but about what would happen after the master’s. Where will I go? Who I will be working for? What will I be doing? Will I be happy? At times, I had so many questions bouncing around in my head it was hard to stay focused.

Being new to this industry and using the master’s as a first step in shifting my career, I found it challenging to demonstrate I had the right skills and knowledge to perform the jobs I was applying for. Many companies probably overlooked my resume as I did not have that one thing they look for, experience. Of course I had 4+ years of great work experience, but not in the areas I was currently applying for. I kept thinking if I could get a hiring manager on the phone or send her an email, she would understand how well the MRCB master’s had prepared me to go from the classroom to the office. On those occasions, I took every opportunity to share ample examples of working through business challenges with real clients from research phase to results presentation phase, applying learnings to critically evaluate research, developing research proposals, and learning from amazing professors that came from companies, such as Kantar Media, P&G, Millward Brown, Nielsen, and Google.

One day as I was discussing my plans to return to Boston with my professor, he mentioned that his company, Kantar Media, owns a market research agency in Boston. He offered to put me in touch. I immediately started preparing for the phone call with Human Resources that I hoped would come, and it did. For some reason this interview felt different. If I could demonstrate to this woman through my experiences during the MRCB program that it was worth putting me in contact with the hiring manager, I was that much closer to landing a job. What resulted was a great conversation about MRCB and many of the courses I had taken over the past months. Needless to say, she was quite impressed with the level of depth and quality of the courses that I had received. As we finished up the call, she was already talking about next steps…an interview with the hiring manager!

A couple days later I was on a Skype call with the hiring manager learning all about Millward Brown Digital and laughing about search marketing acronyms. I had to pause after that call and reflect on when I started my master’s I would never have been able to speak to that level about topics, like search marketing and consumer psychology. This only served to reassure me that the master’s had truly prepared me for life after MRCB. To be a professional who can go into the working world and start contributing immediately. The next step in the hiring process was to meet the rest of the team and deliver a presentation based on client data. Those next few days proved stressful as I poured every free minute I had into perfecting this presentation. I kept reminding myself to be confident and trust in what I was doing. The minute the interview/presentation started (again on Skype) I could see the faces of my soon-to-be co-workers smiling and nodding. When we began to chat more, they asked me in detail about my experience with the MRCB master’s. As I was talking through the different courses and real-life business challenges we had gone through, they were fascinated. I still remember one co-worker who mentioned, “Outside of this interview, I would make sure you list ALL of that experience on your resume. I never would have known the extensiveness of your master’s – sounds like a great program.” I thought to myself, finally, I was able to transmit what I had learned and how well equipped I was to become a professional in market research. The day of graduation, I received the exciting news; Millward Brown Digital was offering me a job in Boston!

On my first day of work, just three months ago, I expected to feel nervous. I was going to an office, meeting my boss and co-workers in-person, and was now “on my own.” However, I found myself more excited to be in this new environment and see what I would be able to accomplish. During those first few weeks, I met with many people to learn about client relationships, our online consumer panel, how we manage our data, and what the goals and strategy of the company are. At each meeting, I felt things clicking together. I kept hearing familiar words and phrases, as I was encouraged to dig deeper into areas I had questions. It is hard to put into words, but I could clearly see direct correlations between my master’s and what I was now learning in this company.

Today, I continue to learn. Every day I discover something new about search marketing and spend time on a wealth of sites devoted to the topic (one of our main performance goals is to educate ourselves on the industry). Who knew that search marketing had so many nuances? I continue to have moments where I think: I took a class in SPSS and I am comfortable with this output or I can apply what I learned about survey writing to help with this or looking at our data I know what the sample size must be to be reportable. At times, I find myself saying numerous times a day “oh I learned that in my master’s.”

As I have said before, it is truly hard to explain how the learnings in the classroom have so easily translated into my work life. They appear to be seamlessly intertwined. I have found I am less nervous when making decisions at work or trying to analyze something different. I continue every day to push myself to look at things differently, as our professors always encouraged us to do. The MRCB program prepared me for real life, one where you have to deal with ambiguities and not having all the information all the time. The few things that I have learned from my time here at Millward Brown Digital are: understand what your client’s objectives are, explore the best ways to answer those objectives, follow the data, and weave together a meaningful story. I have learned you will never have all the answers, but I do believe I could not have asked for a better program to prepare me for this career.

By: Alison Robart ’13, USA


Why is the question that has been crossing my mind since arriving in Madrid, Spain

Written on October 11, 2013 by MRCB Staff & Students in News

Why is the question that has been crossing my mind since arriving in Madrid, Spain to be a part of the Master in Market Research and Consumer Behavior (MRCB).MCC MVM MRCB OPEN 2013 102

Why didn’t I do this sooner?
Why did it take me so long to get here?

There are so many reasons that I’ve used to talk myself out of this in the past:

1)     It’s expensive. What happens when the exchange rate doesn’t go my way?

2)     I work in finance. How do I apply this to market research?

3)     I have been out of school for a few years. Do I even know how to study anymore?

4)     I don’t have any ties in Europe. Will I be lonely?

5)     It’s a big change. Can I handle it?


I’m sure that if you’re reading this you’re also having some of the same circular frenzy going around in your mind.

Let me be the first to dispel all of your worries one-by-one.

First and foremost, this opportunity is an investment in yourself – your future. As cliché as it sounds, if you set your mind to it, then you will find a way to make this happen. I did a lot of research into other schools with comparable programs. There were a few one-year programs in the United States that would have been around $80,000, including all expenses for the year. Depending on the fluctuation of the dollar/euro conversion, you’re going to end up paying less for an education abroad, even when you include living expenses.

There are also the intangible assets – the things that money cannot buy – that come along with being a part of a program with an international scope. A new language, a new culture and a new way of thinking surround you. I can already feel myself being molded by the experiences that I’ve had in Madrid. You truly have the world at your fingertips. All you have to do is take a look at the people in your classroom, and you can feel that the world becomes a little bit smaller and everyone more interconnected.

Before coming to Madrid, I worked in the financial industry. My role was to create marketing materials – brochures and website content – as well as maintain a rapport with clients. I considered myself a brand manager of sorts. Now, how does all of this relate to market research? It took me a while to see how my piece fit into the puzzle. Once I really broke down the components of my job, I began to see how a lot of what I was doing was actually market research. I was looking for relevant articles for clients to keep them informed on market trends and outlooks. With each event that we held, I was creating follow-up emails with questionnaires to benchmark client engagement and loyalty. It was my job to maintain the customer-centric image of the group and stay two steps ahead of other financial teams. That requires a lot of research on current markets as well as potential markets. I know that with this program, my notion of what a typical market research analyst is was challenged. You’ll come to find that market research professional doesn’t fit into a specific mold – we take on many forms and wear many different hats.

Another major concern of mine was figuring out how to get back into the swing of being a student again. I completed my undergraduate coursework a few years ago and have convinced myself that I have lost the kind of discipline it takes to study and prepare for tests and major projects. However, I have to give myself some credit. I have been in the working world for two years and working odd hours in finance. It’s almost like I never left college – late nights working on prospectus plans and cramming for a presentation the next day. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ve lost your “mojo,” but I don’t think it ever truly disappears, especially if you’ve been working in a position with strict deadlines. Your life hasn’t changed much. You’re actually still operating your life under a similar structure. The transition back into academia will not be easy, but it’s certainly nothing to be afraid of.

Transitioning from work to student is not the only major change that you’ll be going through. You’ll also be leaving friends, family and everything that gives you a sense of home. Just having gone through this transition myself, I can tell you that it was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. However, in being here for the past 2 months, I’ve found that I have a bigger support system than I ever knew. It’s amazing what kind of passion you tap into with other people when you take a chance of this magnitude. You’re not only living out your dreams, but you’re giving others a chance to vicariously live theirs through you as you begin this amazing journey of self-discovery in the MRCB program.

There will be days when you miss home and just need a touch of something familiar. That’s when you find you become closer to your classmates, because we are all in the same boat. Those are the moments when you remember why you’re here and become excited about what the future holds for you.

We are being given the chance to do something that so few people allow themselves the opportunity to experience. We have a chance to pursue a road less traveled and to take our future in our own hands.

By: Cassie Hoz ’14, USA

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