Humans of CEMS: Working hard is key

Today, in our Humans of CEMS series, we meet CEMS Alumna Karine Chihimi. (Home school Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo - FGV , Host school - ESADE Business School )



What do you do?

My career started in marketing while I was still in university. After graduating, I joined the HSBC Bank graduate programme which was an amazing experience.Thanks to holding various roles, I gained a solid financial background and worked directly with senior executives who believed in my potential: at the age of 25, I stepped up to a manager position to build a new team.

Experiencing a phase of professional fulfillment, despite being quite young, I had a desire to explore new horizons. That's when I decided to apply to CEMS, an enriching experience that allowed me to move abroad and meet inspiring people.

After CEMS, I worked for a small consulting firm in Barcelona, specializing in innovation. This opened my mind and taught me a lot about design thinking and agile methodologies. While still living in Barcelona, I transitioned to Zurich Insurance Company (a joint venture with the Bank of Sabadell), where I spent almost five years. My role was focused on creating and developing innovative insurance solutions and implementing projects to expand the business portfolio.

Nearly a year ago, I joined Allianz Commercial as the Regional Multinational Market Practice Leader for Ibero Latam. It's a market-facing role where I am in charge of value proposition and business development related to global insurance programs for large corporate clients.


What are the main challenges of your position?

The main challenge is about stakeholder management. I partner with many stakeholders and I would prefer building a close relationship to better understand their needs and aspirations. However, this is challenging for 2 reasons. 

The first one is distance. I´m based in Madrid and I interact with teams across the globe (Brazil, UK, Germany, etc). Building a relationship online sometimes is not as effective as in person. 

The second is timing. We have different time zones, which can make it difficult to find availability within the proper working hours.


What steps did you take to get to where you are today?

My career journey wasn’t linear. I held roles in various industries (marketing, banking, consulting, insurance), which allowed me to experience different organizational models and cultures and, most importantly, gain a very diverse set of skills and capabilities.

Working hard is key. Sometimes going an extra mile is a condition but it doesn’t always lead to success. I believe preparation, opportunity and the right attitude play a crucial role.  Competences such as proactivity, focus, determination and collaboration certainly helped me to deliver good results, regardless of the role or industry.


How did the CEMS environment and community help you on your professional journey?

CEMS was such an amazing experience, it opened doors to inspiring people and new opportunities. I think it is a very unique program because it blends an exciting curriculum, foreign languages and international experience and these are exactly the reasons why I´ve decided to apply.

While studying in FGV (São Paulo) and in ESADE (Barcelona), I met people from different countries, languages and backgrounds. I gained many interpersonal skills in a very short period of time.

It was a very intense and fulfilling period of my life because, apart from the classes, I had attended several workshops, sessions and activities organized by CEMS corporate partners and CEMS Club.

But CEMS is more than that. CEMS is about a community of talented young individuals with entrepreneur’s mindset and strong values embedded. I´m really proud to be a CEMS Alumni, it made such an impact in my life and my career, broadening my horizons and opening my mindset.


What top 3 things would you advise current CEMS students?

Time flies so live the CEMS experience to the fullest: be active in the community and get involved. Your priorities will change completely after graduation.

Take risks. Don’t be afraid to take on a new challenge, new role or move to another industry. These are the moments when you learn the most and gain valuable skills to tap into throughout your career.

Stay curious and be a life-long learner. The world is changing rapidly, and you need to keep updated and prepared for what's coming next.