In this discussion, we talk with Leonardo Laconi, an incoming MBA student at IESE in Barcelona. After getting a degree in business economics from DiTella, located in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Leo has spent his first five years out of school at Cohen Aliados Financieros in Buenos Aires trading bonds, equities, and other securities. He has a passion for finance, and is going to use his time in business school to think about what career path he is going to take next while getting a chance to live abroad. Read our discussion below to learn more about Leo and how an MBA fits into a career in finance!
What kind of challenges did you face while taking the GMAT and applying to business school?
The GMAT is the GMAT, that is the biggest challenge of all. Then when you are going through the applications, everybody tells you you have to speak with a lot of people from different business schools and get insight, but then in the end everyone tells you the same – that they love the school, they are very happy, and it gets boring. Then you feel the pressure of talking to more people and going to more events, and I found that exhausting. It’s stuff you have to do not because you want to but because you have to. I think you really only have to talk to 2 or 3 people from each school. I found that the essays are really important, but you don’t always know how to write a good essay that makes an impact for each school, because you don’t know exactly what each school wants.
How did you ultimately decide on IESE?
The ranking does matter for me. IESE is one of the top in Europe and 15 in the world according to Financial Times. So the ranking of course matters. What I really liked about IESE was the people. They have really good people, they were always willing to help me, they have a huge community. The other thing I care about is the Argentina alumni, which is really big for me. I know that when you go to business school you want to meet new people and be friends with everyone from all over. But then, if you are going to live in Argentina you are going to do business with Argentinian people. So it was important to me to go somewhere with a strong Argentinian presence. Two years ago it was 15, a year ago it was 10, and this year it was 8.
What drove you to apply to business school?
As you saw I’ve been working in finance and trading for the past 5 years and I wanted to stop for 1 or 2 years and think about what I really wanted to do. Once you start working, in trading especially, life goes by. You keep working and working and it’s a very unhealthy environment. I didn’t want that for the rest of my life. I wanted to live abroad, so starting a masters in business was the best idea. My family owns several businesses here in Salta, so maybe one day I will take over these businesses here.
Once you start working, in trading especially, life goes by. You keep working and working and it’s a very unhealthy environment. I didn’t want that for the rest of my life. I wanted to live abroad, so starting a masters in business was the best idea.
Why do you say trading is an unhealthy profession?
Unhealthy in the way that you are always rushing, you eat in front of your computer, you’re always stressed out. The work is unhealthy, the environment is really nice. So I wanted to stop for a couple years, live abroad, and specialize in something other than trading.
You’re working in banking now, and you acknowledge the rigor in the industry – do you think you want to remain in banking in the future?
I’m not quite sure. I know that I’d like to do private banking once I’m in Spain. But I’m also really interested in starting my own business. Once I’m in Barcelona there are several factors to keep in mind, like paying for loans, so it’s not easy to start a business right after school. So i might start in private banking, then come back to Argentina and keep working in private banking on my own.
So you’d definitely like to come back to Argentina at some point in the future?
I don’t know, I know I want to come back to Argentina. But i don’t know how things are going to be here. That’s an issue – the economy factor is something you always have to keep in mind, but yeah I’d like to come back to Argentina, especially here in my hometown of Salta
What is your life like in Argentina currently?
The economy isn’t great, but I have my family, I have a good life here. It’s not like I’m starving or homeless yet. My father works in real estate. He makes buildings for students in Cordoba. He also owns a private primary and secondary school. I’ve always been interested in education, and that’s another reason I chose IESE, because they really care about the social impact that you make after your MBA. Maybe in the future I come back here and help run my family businesses.
That’s another reason I chose IESE, because they really care about the social impact that you make after your MBA.
How are you feeling about the move to Barcelona, and how might it be affected by COVID?
Spain is opening up now, so I don’t think COVID will be a problem. But here in Argentina we are still in quarantine and the Spanish embassy isn’t open so they aren’t giving visas, so maybe I’ll have an issue with my visa, but we have time until September so hopefully we’ll be fine. I think the US will be more complicated for Latin and Asian students.