Unlike most Mexicans who head to the US for business school, international tax negotiator Levi Alvarado chose Manchester Business School in the UK to learn from a very different culture.
Levi, 30, is currently on the 18-month full-time MBA at Manchester Business School (MBS), and is due to graduate in 2012.
He graduated in Economics from Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico in 2003. After graduating he worked in the public sector for nearly ten years, ending up in charge of all negotiations with foreign governments for Mexico’s tax authority, the Mexican Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT).
He negotiated mainly with the USA, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland, every time a company felt that it was being taxed improperly in two countries.
Levi wanted to do an MBA to deepen his business knowledge and gain some international exposure: “Given my government background, I wanted something that pushed me into the business environment, and the MBA seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that”.
“I wanted to improve my skills in leadership, and gain competence in product management, and marketing”, he says.
Levi only applied to Manchester Business School. “I knew I wanted a European university, but unfortunately many European MBAs are often one-year programs, and I wanted something a little longer. MBS has an eighteen-month course, so I opted for that”.
He wanted to go to a European school because “many Mexicans go to American schools” and he wanted something completely different. “The US and Mexico are also culturally more similar than people think and I wanted a different cultural experience”, he adds.
He started looking at different programs: “I obviously looked at the rankings and noticed that MBS was always in the 30 or 40 best schools, and in many rankings even in the top five. I realized that it was recognized as one of the best business schools in the UK and decided to apply”.
Levi won the Funed Postgraduate Scholarship from the Fundacion Mexicana which covers 25 per cent of the program’s tuition fee.
The highlight of the MBA so far for Levi has been the MBA Tournament (MBAT) that took place in Paris in May. Levi participated in the rock climbing competition and was placed third: “The experience was really exciting, probably the most similar thing to the Olympic Games I’ll ever experience in my life!
“And it was fun meeting people from all around the world doing the same thing [the MBA] and finding out that they went through the same type of problems.”
Born and brought up in Mexico City, the fifth largest city in the world, he enjoys living in Manchester, comparatively speaking a “small and quiet town”. He has set up a photography society at MBS because, “All the clubs were focused on what you’re going to do after your MBA, but we wanted to do something for when we’re doing the program.”
They organized a contest of the best pictures representing the MBAT experience. The winner received books (always welcomed by MBA students!) and his pictures are going to be hanged in one of the business school’s classrooms.
After the first year, students can choose between an internship, further electives or working on a small project during the summer vacation.
Levi is currently doing an internship at IntelliQ, a London-based software company that has just developed complex software to detect employee theft in the retail sector.
“Right now they want to launch a new project, which is going to mix that software with CCTV and the company wants to know if customers are interested in this new product. I’m doing the research to see what clients would want from such a product, what the market says, and what it would cost. I’m also developing a strategy to penetrate the market”.
Levi wants to spend the next few years outside Mexico because he wants to understand how things are done in other countries. “This was the main purpose of doing an MBA in the UK, in the first place. I wanted to study in a different environment”.
In the next ten years, however, he hopes to go back to Mexico and help the development of his country.
Levi recommends Manchester Business School to people who want international exposure, are open minded and willing to get new challenges, and want to take some time out of a very big city.
Read more about the reasons people head to business school in the Why MBA section