by Olivia Sleet, Career Centre Researcher
Brazil, Luxembourg and Australia – via LBS: Gabriel Occhiutto’s career journey already spans thousands of miles. Now based in Sydney, MiF full-time 2017 alumnus Gabriel currently works for Amazon’s Operations Finance division. Here, he tells us his international career story.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Brazil originally, born and raised in Sao Paulo.
Did you always want to move to a different country to work?
In my original long term plan, I always knew that I’d like to be in a position to move around; the location wasn’t specific yet but I thought I’d go and do my Masters, maybe find a job in Europe but ultimately I’d go back to Brazil. What you don’t know when you’re applying for a School like LBS, especially when you come from outside of Europe, is what opportunities will become open to you. I had many colleagues who had quite a well-defined plan, and in the end it almost worked against them. Going in with an open mind can work in your favour, because you end up knowing a lot more around what different companies do. In the end, the job that I ended up being with a company that had offices all around the world, and were seeking people that were from different locales.
I wanted to keep the door open to go back to Brazil if I needed to, so a company with an international presence was really important to me. Even though it was a European programme at Amazon, the possibilities of where next were unlimited. Once inside a company, it’s a lot easier to move around. It was quite a rigorous process to get in, but because I’d had a corporate finance background at similar companies, I had a certain advantage. When applying to Amazon, being from LBS was also a big advantage as Amazon recruits from few European Schools, and a lot of the interview process was done on campus.
When did you start searching for roles at LBS? How did you focus your search, did you pick one location or were you open?
I worked for similar companies in Brazil and that helped my movement. That’s something I recommend to my colleagues; many come to Business School to change career and that’s an admirable and valid option, but it’s very important to consider continuing in your own path, even if you’re not a sponsored by a company. To get ahead of the competition, having the industry background and the School both behind you puts you in a good spot to compete for very selective positions. For me, continuing on a similar path worked well.
What was different about job searching in other countries in comparison with the UK?
There are definitely differences. The recruitment process for graduate positions in Europe – including London – is quite different from what you’d experience for any Latin American position. That’s something I recommend students and graduates spend some time on; use the resources of the School, ask for advice on how recruitment processes work for that particular company – hundreds of students went through the same path over the years and the Career Centre gathered all that knowledge, they’re ready to share that with you. In Latin America, just from my experience, you’re treated as a full-time professional employee from the day you start and the interviewer will drive the conversation with that in mind, focusing on technical skills, language and behaviour. The expectations were different for the graduate positions I applied for in Europe – they gave more attention to ‘soft skills’, values and problem solving and it’s focused on developing people. It does change your approach, you can highlight where you hope to develop. You can show how you’re aligned to the company’s values and this is what they’re ultimately interested in. I found them to be really important in recruiting in Europe.
What methods or resources worked or gained the most traction?
What I’d strongly recommend is to get into a conversation with the Career Centre, particularly with the sector specialist for the industry you’re interested in, before recruitment season starts – which isn’t long after the School year begins. It’s good to know how to approach companies especially. It’s so important to have a strategy about how to tackle your interviews; how to make the most of recruiters’ presentations. It’s so worth preparing with the Career Centre, who have lots of information available and can help develop a strategy – which companies you want to apply to and properly preparing for them. For me, it was knowing I had to align with the 14 Amazon leadership principles, which required some thought to be precise and give good examples.
How did you leverage the value of having an overseas degree from LBS?
The way I positioned it to Amazon was that I already had the practical experience, I’d come to LBS to master the technique, and there’s no other place that could have taught me better for my role. And now I have the combination of the firsthand experience and the technique.
What challenges did you face in job searching internationally?
First of all – was I planning to move to Luxembourg? Nobody plans to move to Luxembourg! It’s a very small country. But people aren’t as open as they should be – companies know about the School reputation, all around Europe. In any process you have to select the locations where you’re applying to. I’d recommend that you leave those fields blank as much as possible, because then if you miss out on your chosen location you won’t miss out on all the other possibilities too.
In my case, that was one of the reasons that I got my position. More than one hundred in that year applied to Amazon Finance Graduate Programme, and only me and two others got positions (that I know of!), and I think that was because I was willing to move abroad. Luxembourg is actually where Amazon’s headquartered and all but one of the Finance positions are based there. People had the idea that all the positions would be based in London but that’s not true. So just be open-minded – apply for things and if you’re offered them, you can then decide whether or not to take them, but don’t close the door.
What do you wish you had done earlier?
There’s nothing I would have done earlier but what I would have done more of is attend events organised by the Careers Centre. Even if you’re not sure if they’ll be useful to you – the workshops and the company presentations – you don’t know anything about a company until you actually speak to people. By being open and telling people what your goals are, the only thing that can happen in that situation is that the company might keep you in mind for other positions you weren’t aware of. So go to everything you can, and sometimes you’ll be surprised.
What can students expect from working in Australia? Is there anything they need to do/have?
For anyone wanting to work in a market like Australia (while not being an Australian or New Zealander), you need to have some things in mind. First, look at the companies coming to campus and see if they have operations in the places that you would like to be. They don’t need to have graduate opportunities in those offices, just check that they have offices in the markets you’re interested in to start with. It’s unlikely that a company will recruit you in London for a marketplace outside the EU (except the US in some cases) so don’t go with that expectation. Then, apply for graduate positions in Europe. After working in Europe for a while, the internal transfer isn’t normally that hard. Unless you have language constraints, visa implications or family considerations, internal movement is usually much easier in general than that first step. So just make sure the company has operations where you’d like to be eventually, if not right now.
In my case, I had a personal reason to move to Australia and Amazon was just launching their business there. So working for the headquarters in Europe gave me a massive advantage to then apply for this job. The move from Luxembourg to Australia was actually much easier than the move from LBS to Luxembourg. So just go one step at a time. Find a good position in Europe first with the scope and connections to move. If I’d stuck with my original plan to move back to Brazil straight away, I wouldn’t have had half the opportunities I’ve had since.
Advice for those looking to emulate your international career journey:
It’s going to be a very tense year for sure, but don’t let the recruitment pressure drain your energy and enthusiasm. Failure in recruitment is the most common thing you can imagine. Don’t let yourself be consumed by those failures – it can bring you down, affecting your performance in future interviews and even academically. Just keep on going with your strategy.
Also, a lot of Latin American or Asian applicants think, ‘I won’t be able to work in Europe, so I’ll just apply back to my home country’ because they think companies won’t prioritise overseas applicants. I would say don’t have that anxiety, companies have their ways to grant work visas, so don’t let that dishearten you. I almost only applied to roles in my home country with that in mind and feel lucky I didn’t – don’t let that constrain you.