Master’s student portrait: Lucia Montenegro in real estate

February 27, 2024 •

4 min reading

Student profiles: Lucia Montenegro in real estate and beyond

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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 Lucia Montenegro. After graduating from EHL in 2015, Lucia began a career in investment and asset management in the hospitality real estate sector, before later doing an MBA at INSEAD in Fontainebleau. She is currently Head of Asset Management Germany & Austria for hotel investor and operator AccorInvest.


Investing in herself

Lucia Montenegro has always had a clear career plan. At high school, she already knew she wanted to work in investment, and this aim, combined with her passion for travel, languages and hospitality, led her to take her bachelor’s at EHL. Whilst there, an internship in the hotels team at real estate investment advisor JLL reinforced her desire to go into that sector, and she returned to the company after EHL. She stayed there for six years, working first in London and then Madrid, building a career that took her into a leadership position. Despite this success, Lucia decided to stick to her long-held goal to undertake an MBA.


Why did you want to do an MBA?

“I believe that one should always continue to develop academically and also in terms of personal growth. Obviously, you learn a lot of skills at work and you develop professionally, but there's something that is missing where you can basically invest in yourself, right?


Also, when I was benchmarking C-level positions or board members, you'll rarely see anybody that only has a bachelor’s, they usually have some other degree. It was always quite clear for me that an MBA was the way to go.”


Why was INSEAD the school for you?

“First, it's a 10-month program, so you're not as long away from work. Furthermore, INSEAD is very similar to EHL, very international. There's no more than 15 people per nationality. So you're a minority within INSEAD, which is very cool. And then the last point was that the alumni, regardless where they came from in the world, they usually stay in Europe after. I do see myself in the short to mid-term definitely staying in Europe. That was one of the key factors as well, that I said, ‘Okay, I do want to have my network around me’.”


The electives on INSEAD’s MBA allow you to tailor the course to your needs – how did you approach this?

What I was looking into is, where do I see myself next? What are the roles I'm inclining into?

"Obviously, those are roles where I lead a team, where I have a big portfolio under me where I need to strategize and build on personal relations. So the electives that I choose, I want them to help me and give me some tools that I can apply after on how to become an even better leader and a great manager. But, for example, other students have more a path of, hey, I want to change industries, I only have 10 months to make it, I need these and these skills. It's good that you have a plan before you start INSEAD on what the electives are, because it goes really, really fast.”


Did the course meet your expectations?

“I think it exceeded them, to be honest. I went there for mostly the academic part of it. I came back with a lot of friends. You get inspired from many people because they come from all sorts of backgrounds. At EHL it's very hospitality-focused, you have a lot in common with the students and the alumni there. But after a few years, it's nice also to open up the horizon and meet other people from other industries. That was very exciting.”

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After INSEAD, you joined AccorInvest. Did your MBA help you win that role?

“The entire interview process came through my own network that I had built before INSEAD. However, I do believe that the MBA definitely gave me that extra edge and that extra understanding of what it would take to excel in this role. So I think the MBA definitely was a major contributor in terms of getting the job.”


Doing an MBA is a big financial investment as well. To you, was it worth it?

“You'll have to ask me in eight years when I pay off my loan for the MBA! But no, honestly speaking, I think you have to see an MBA as not only an investment in your career, but also in terms of personal growth. It's a long-term investment. It is a big commitment, financially speaking. However, for INSEAD specifically, the moment you get accepted, the school will help you get the financing you need.”


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I've always seen myself doing an MBA because I believe it's a good amount of academic skills, but you also train in ‘yourself’ skills: how to be a leader, how does organizational behaviour work, how does the strategy within a bigger company work.
Lucia Montenegro, Head of Asset Management Germany & Austria at AccorInvest