Master’s student portrait European journey

January 30, 2024 •

4 min reading

Master’s student portrait: Jonathan Serrano’s pan-European journey

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In an exciting new series of our Alumni Network Podcast we chat to EHL graduates who embarked on a bachelor’s adventure at EHL and then pursued master’s degrees across the globe.

Here’s a taster of the latest episode with Jonathan Serrano. After graduating from EHL in 2016, Jonathan pursued a Master’s in Management as a double degree programme at emlyon Business School in France and EBS Business School in Germany. He then went to Spain to take a Master’s in Business Analytics and Big Data at IE University in Madrid. He currently works at Google in London as a Product Marketing Manager in Global Ads.

 

Going beyond hospitality

With his parents owning a restaurant, it would have been natural for Jonathan Serrano to go into the hospitality industry. When he started his bachelor’s at EHL, he thought that was exactly what he’d do, but an internship in his first year opened his eyes to other industries and made him wonder

“how would it feel to be outside my comfort zone?”

By the end of his second year, he knew he wanted to pursue these new interests, at least for a while. “I was quite clear: I’m going to start my career outside the hospitality industry.”

 

What did your parents think of you veering away from hospitality?

Whichever decision I'd make, they would be supportive of it. I could sense that they had mixed feelings. On one side, they'd be happy that someone could carry on the family business. But on the other hand, they were happy about having someone in the family exploring a different path. It was very mixed feelings, but I made the call and I don't regret it.

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You chose to do a double master’s degree – How did that work in a practical sense?

You complete your first year in Germany in EBS Business School, and you then get a chance to complete an extra year in Lyon, at emlyon, and you get a degree from both schools. Both programs are quite different. In Germany, it was very much focused on theory, so you had to write the thesis and it was a lot less practical. Whereas at emlyon, it was very practical and I had 500 electives to choose from. Therefore, the coursework between the two universities wouldn't overlap.

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What were you looking for in a master’s?

I knew that by choosing a master’s in management, the content of the course itself wouldn't be significantly different from what we study at EHL. It was mainly about the case studies to which these courses are applied. I was looking for a course where the case studies would be applied to all other industries besides hospitality. This is what I found in Germany. For instance, most of our case studies were focused on the automotive industry, the airline industry, and then at emlyon there was a strong focus on having case studies around consulting.

Why did you then choose to do a Master’s in Business Analytics at IE in Madrid?

When I was at EHL, my favorite class was Excel because I liked the idea of manipulating numbers. At emlyon, I took an elective about big data.

While I was highly interested in manipulating data, I knew that I didn't have the tools to analyze all types of data, and that I probably should. I decided to spend an extra year studying because I knew that this would in the end pay off, because there was a gap in the job market where we are collecting an increasing amount of data and not enough people have the skills to process this data.

What appealed about IE University?

One, because they offered that specialist course, but also because there are a lot of similarities between EHL and IE. During the interview process with IE, I realized that the culture was quite similar. I understood that there was a strong focus on the student life, the connection between the students and the professors and practical courses, which is not something that you get everywhere. I knew that this was a point of difference versus my master’s at EBS and emlyon, where I had a lot of focus on academics but less so on the student life.

 

How did IE help you get your current role at Google?

First of all, there is a huge amount of alumni from IE University working at Google. That's how you can get the referral. Once I had the referral, I reached out to the career support department from IE, who helped me by providing me with a former Google recruiter that gave me 2-3 individual one-to-one coaching sessions where we went through mock-up interview questions that Google actually delivered. That was extremely helpful because I felt super prepared during the interview process.

 

What’s your biggest wish for your career now?

I wish I continue to have the chance to

A/ work in a job that gets me excited to wake up every Monday, because I want to be a Monday person, not a Friday person, and

B/ continue to work in a team I consider

friends.

 

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