Interview with Manuel Gil Ferreira, Communications External Consultant at European Commission

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Manuel has lived in 9 different countries so far, all made possible through CEMS! Currently working in Brussels as Communications External Consultant at the European Commission, he now fulfills his dream of contributing to the European project!

The Cems Club asked him…

Manuel, where do you currently live?

In Brussels!

How is this city like?

I like to say that Brussels is horrible for tourists but amazing for its inhabitants. There's not a lot to see in terms of landmarks and historic places, but there is an overwhelming amount to do in terms of activities, events and its cultural scene. I have really warmed up to what is one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in Europe. I am a bit biased since I am half-Belgian and I have family here, but it is a friendly place for foreigners and also quite soft on your wallet when compared to all the surrounding European capitals!

So, what do you do in Brussels?

I work at the European Commission as Communications Consultant for the COSME Programme.

And how is it like to work in the public sector?

Working in the public sector might be slow-paced for a CEMSie, but for me I at least wake up with a clear clarity of the why I'm doing what I'm doing. Helping build the European project has been a dream of mine for quite a while so I'm happy to be contributing, especially in these trying times for the EU. The job conditions are great and I am working in an executive agency of the Commission, meaning that I work closely with grant beneficiaries and contractors, therefore the results of our investments as EU taxpayers. It really is a fascinating line of work where you get to improve your negotiation and project management skills but of course it also requires a lot of patience!

If you would have to describe CEMS in one sentence, what would it be?

A network for life.

What was your best experience at NOVA?

The day-to-day life. NOVA is for me one of the top universities in the world in terms of the lifestyle you can have as a student. This has to do of course with the weather conditions and Lisbon as the trendy, cosmopolitan city that it is, but also with the general environment of NOVA that tries to emulate a more American-style, practical approach whilst still challenging you.

And where did you go on exchange?

Tokyo! In terms of the cultural experience, for sure I had one of the most intense experiences possible and Japan as a country has a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing, food and experiences. Our consortium was one of the smallest, if not the smallest, of the whole CEMS network, which was a good change from Nova where I feel I didn't really meet and engage with everyone in my class since we were so many. The university itself was really not demanding and I have to say I was a bit disappointed since I wasn't challenged at all (perhaps Nova prepared us so well) - but this of course has the upside that I was able to travel stress-free within and out of Japan and fully immerse myself in my exchange country. Doing the business project abroad was one of the coolest experiences of my life and that I will cherish forever. Working in a more traditional, Japanese company was really something straight out of a movie and I have to say I had the best possible time there, I'm even having deep Portuguese saudades and chills just by thinking about it!

What would you recommend every CEMSie?

The greatest thing about CEMS is not the coursework, the diploma you get at the end or even the exchange in itself - it's really the people you meet! You will soon realize that you were placed in a microcosmos of like-minded individuals and I have to say that the members of our network are always there for each other. This is so true that I even got my next job because of the CEMS Worldwide Facebook group and all the support and connections I was able to get through there! So my recommendation is to not always have your head in a PPT presentation, go for CEMS social events and meet all the amazing people around here - not only will you earn yourself friends for life, but you will create connections as resources that you can leverage for your professional career. Another recommendation is to be thankful for Vera and Carolina and not to complain about NOVA all the time - be proud of your home school, you will realize how much you miss it when you go on exchange!

What is your greatest achievement?

At the end of TUI's international graduate leadership programme, which I just got accepted in, so by age 29, I will have lived in 9 different countries - I realize this privilege is only possible because of CEMS!

Interview with Yannick van Ballaer, Global Business Processes Graduate at Novo Nordisk

Yannik graduated only a year ago, but he already has big plans ahead. Currently living and working in Copenhagen as Global Business Processes Graduate at Novo Nordisk, he now moves to Princeton in May for 8 months.

 The Cems Club ask him….

Yannik, how is Copenhagen like?

Copenhagen is a very young and dynamic city that constantly invests in making itself more livable, green, and attractive to internationals. Everybody speaks perfect English and the city offers a great combination between nightlife and cultural sites. 

How is this the company like? Do you like your job?

Amazing company in an industry that is constantly changing and where you need to be able to change your mindset at a moment's notice. Work-life balance is priority 1 and allows you to combine work with hobbies and self-development. 

If you would have to describe CEMS in one sentence, what would it be?

The CEMS program acts as the perfect springboard vaulting you into incredible experiences, interesting learnings, and a lifelong group of internationally-minded friends. 

What was your best experience at NOVA?

NOVA isn't always #1 on people's university list, yet I think it should be. With the many group assignments and with its new campus, the university promotes activities outside of the traditional classroom setting, resulting in much more well-rounded graduates. NOVA graduates are typically very well equipped to handle anything that school, society or jobs will throw at you.

Where did you go in exchange?

WU (Vienna School of Economics and Business)

What would you recommend every CEMSie?

Invest time into building and maintaining your CEMSie network! We don't often think about it but CEMSies are spread out in so many companies all over the world. Effectively leveraging these allows you to meet so many new people and often gets you a foot in the door when looking for jobs after the program. One of my colleagues told me on day 1 "Networking is one of the core value-adding activities that employees can bring. As soon as you stop networking, I believe the company should fire you". As rough as that may sound, I completely agree with that statement. Just purely knowledge-sharing with people from other companies and industries brings so much knowledge with which you can solve problems and prove yourself. As CEMSies most of us love to talk about ourselves and what we do, so if there is one thing I would recommend it is to just be bold and reach out to interesting people and ask how they got to do what they do.

What is your greatest achievement? 

Tough question and as a recent graduate I don't feel like I have reached that one big achievement yet. However, I do feel proud about my ability to constantly adapt and be able to move around to new destinations and jobs. We are young and not yet bound to one career or one city, so I am really trying to exploit on that and take on as many different activities and challenges as I can. 

What would be the last thing you would like to tell us?

Don't just limit yourself to the traditional companies that we get pushed to through CEMS [think of consulting ;)] but really look around. There are so many companies and positions out there that we never think about but that allow you to take on much more responsibility from the get-go. Again, using your network to explore what is out there is key in this.



Interview with Kristin Wölfer: Customer Success Manager at

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Our first girl, our first German.
Born and raised in Düsseldorf, Kristin left the city to receive new stimuli from the world and then came back kickstarting her career as Customer Success Manager into the Success Graduate Program at Salesforce.

The Cems Club asked her…

How is it at, do you like it?
Do you like your job?

Salesforce is the most modern company I have ever worked for. I think, most outstanding is, that the company does not only care about profit but encourages its employees to step up and take over responsibility for society. As employees we receive 54 hours of extra time-off if we dedicate this time to a social project. Apart from their social engagement, Salesforce gives everyone a high flexibility on how and where they want to work and offers various other benefits to employees. As my Job Title says, my job is to make our customers successful with our products. Depending on the customers' situation this includes various things, from helping them overcome technical barriers or supporting their internal change management efforts to just clarifying their adoption concept. Hence, the most important thing for me is a steady communication and relationship with the client to ensure that he or she sees me as a trusted advisor and adresses his or her challenges to me. I cannot solve all the problems myself, but I act as an intermediate and single point of contact between the customer and Salesforce's internal resources.

If you would have to describe CEMS in one sentence, what would it be? 

CEMS is an incredible network of highly skilled and open-minded young professionals who are eager to have an impact on today's business world and society.

What was your best experience at NOVA? 

Meeting all these diverse people with various backgrounds and nationalities. I learnt so much by working and hanging out with these people as they all had different experiences and aspirations to share. Being a Nova Student immediately felt like being part of a community that went together through stressful academic times but also jointly met after them to party that it was all over.

Where did you go in exchange? How was it? 

I did my exchange semester in Denmark at Copenhagen Business School. My experience there was positive yet completely different from my Nova semesters. Copenhagen is a beautiful city and the university is super modern and has a lot to offer. As I went in my first CEMS Semester, it was the first time I really felt like being part of the program as the courses there were mostly CEMS only. As the weather wasn't as nice as Lisbon weather (what a surprise), I got to know the Danish "hygge" way, meeting up with friends and my fellow CEMS people in cozy coffee shops or just at someone's place. I must say, unfortunately I didn't have many local friends as I found it quite hard to become close with them quickly ( and I am German- that's what they say about us right?). However, they say once you have a Danish friend, he/she will be there forever.

What would you recommend every CEMSie? 

I was a student myself not too long ago, so I don't want to play the wise woman here - but from what I learnt: Get to know yourself and enjoy the ride by being open and trying as many things as you can. I experienced CEMS students as highly driven and ambitious but also know that this includes a little tendancy to compare oneself against others. Try not to do that. For me - the most important thing when looking for a job was, where I would fit the best, in terms of working culture and potential to learn and grow. So far I have not regretted that approach as I love my colleagues and way of working. Knowing that about yourself is essential and you cannot compare or rank that in any way. Another advice - stay connected and have fun with the people that you meet along the way. While being in Uni I didn't quite grasp how huge the CEMS Network actually is. I met so many former CEMS Students so far who then know people I know. It is a small world - with many opportunities.

Interview with Matteo Grosso: Member Solutions Associate at The Gerson Lehrman Group, Dublin

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Matteo was born in Alghero (Sardina, Italy) but has made all the way to Dublin. He used to be Student Board Representative for CEMS at Nova SBE, has been engaged in different other student associations and always wanted to make the world a bit more interconnected.

The Cems Club asked him…

If you would have to describe CEMS in one sentence, what would it be?

CEMS is Deinos. Deinos is a Greek word with a double translation. The first one, is dangerous. The second one, is amazing. Deinos remembers us that at first, a different culture makes us feel uncomfortable but, if we do not stop at the prejudice/stereotype, we will discover an entire new World that we can appreciate and learn from. Being a CEMS Student means valuing the fact that our diversities are not something which divides us, but what makes us special, unique, and stronger when we work together.

What was your best experience at NOVA?
Being the Student Board Representative for my brilliant and esteemed colleagues

What would you recommend every CEMSie?
1. Connect. Rember that together we go further. 2. Ask questions. Be curious and open-minded. Be not only ready to respect and appreciate another culture, but also to embrace it and make it yours. 3. Besides thinking "I want to be the best IN the world", start wondering "Am I the best FOR the world?"

What is your greatest achievement?
I guess having surrounded myself with friends who are a source of inspiration every day. I feel truly blessed to have friends who are smart, fun, humble, and committed to make the world a better place.

Interview with Pedro Moreira de Lemos: Assistant Guest Relation Manager at Jumeirah, Dubai

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Pedro was born in Lisbon but now made his way much further away. He’s an amazing person, can fluently speak 6 languages (or 7… we do not remember ;)!) and is an extremely inspiring person.

The Cems Club asked him…

If you would have to describe CEMS in one sentence, what would it be?

A Master and a Community that make the World look smaller and more connected in a positive way

What was your best experience at NOVA?

The Nova way of life is made of extremes (and I believe that everyone at Nova can relate to that). 5 years of Nova gave me tremendous joyful moments while simultaneously contributing to strengthen my anxiety. However, stimulating curiosity, incentivizing participation in extra-university initiatives and clubs and instigating a great environment where you can meet and collaborate with incredible individuals that I now have the privilege to consider as friends are traits of an outstanding university. The aggregation of those and many more constitute my very positive experience at Nova. And yes, I would do it all over again.

What would you recommend every CEMSie?

I am not exactly the type of person that quotes verses and authors to give life advices, yet Robert Frost was onto something when he claimed: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference". Don't choose your career or don't live your life according to what you think others may perceive as being cool or as being an incredible achievement (or as we may call it alternatively, instagrammable life decisions). From time to time, dedicate a moment for self-reflection and be honest with yourself. See if you are making the most out of life. Take a few risks, do a lot of internships, explore what is out there. Stay different and choose your own road.

What is your greatest achievement?

Difficult to say at this stage in life as we cannot all be Malala Yousafzai and have astounding achievements at this age. However, I believe that numerous sets of small achievements leading towards a happy and balanced life, between a job where you feel that you are listened to and can truly contribute, along with a "besides-work" life in an exciting, futuristic and dynamic city as Dubai may seem like a solid personal achievement. Sometimes it is better to have small victories spread throughout time than just one big concentrated one. It may sound like a boring answer, but never take a balanced and happy life for granted, especially at the beginning of your career.