Alum of the Month

Mihaela Breg

Mihaela Breg

April 2015

New York Program

August 2013 Intake

What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
I have a Master’s degree of Banking and Capital Markets and Bachelor in Economics (specialisation Finance and Banking) from Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Babes-Bolyai University in Romania.

What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
I learned about the MBA programme offered by Mountbatten via an e-mail newsletter received from at the end of 2012. At that point, I was working at the European Commission in Brussels (Belgium) as a financial and external auditor doing financial examinations/ audits on spot or partnering with the European Court of Auditors; a good public sector job that offered me security, flexibility, benefits and business travels in Europe. However, I always liked to take a little bit of risk in life, being driven by an incredible desire to experience new chapters and live outside my comfort zone, and I just couldn’t picture myself making a career and eventually retiring from a position in the public sector. I constantly had in the back of my mind an image of myself working and living in New York. That image, combined with my decision to return and work in the private sector (especially banking industry), my desire to pursue an MBA and my interest to learn more about Southeast Asia, were the factors that led me towards the MBA programme offered by Mountbatten in New York and Bangkok. After doing my research for business schools and based on my career aspirations, this really felt like the right next move for me in 2013.

Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I got a placement at JP Morgan in their Midtown office in New York on 277 Park Avenue, just opposite the JP Morgan headquarters. Being a member of the Firmwide Oversight & Control team I got the chance to work on several projects balancing multiple assignments simultaneously. My role as Risk Analyst in Corporate Banking included constant interaction with various Functions throughout the firm (e.g., Compliance, Finance, Legal, Risk etc.) and all Lines of Business (e.g., Asset Management, Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Bank etc.). Furthermore, I directly supported and assisted the Asia-Pacific Regional Manager based in Hong Kong in regulatory, oversight, operational and compliance related activities. Based on my previous work experience and my desire to take ownership of initiatives, I also had the chance to be a key member of an internal review program, partnering with several Lines of Business, I was involved in the development of a program quality testing methodology and towards the end of my year, I provided insight and advice to an independent quality testing team.
More importantly, this role was a great learning experience. The very first idea of my MBA dissertation (completed and presented at the end of Mountbatten programme in Bangkok) came from the desire to learn more about the global regulatory environment in the banking industry after being involved in the Oversight & Control department in JP Morgan, New York.

What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
I’m not sure I could pinpoint just a single experience, but more the general opportunity to interact with various departments throughout the firm and colleagues that were based in 4 different regions. Getting to attend and participate in teleconferences with people from New York, Hong Kong, London and Brazil, on a daily basis, really established that international factor that I loved about working in such a prestigious corporation like JP Morgan. When I arrived in NY I already had professional experience in various countries in Europe but working in an international setting like JP Morgan can be overwhelming. The lessons I learned over the course of the year were extremely valuable and helped me gain further confidence and an ablility to form and express my ideas and opinions in a professional manner.

What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
For me personally, all the amazing people I met and also the unforgettable memories I created with them during my time in New York and Bangkok represented the most memorable aspect of my Mountbatten Programme. Starting with Mr. Dennis Garritan (Dean of the academic programme at that time), I considered him from the very beginning my mentor and always appreciated his advice, support and encouragement offered during the MBA programme in New York. Furthermore, my roommate and friend Camilla and actually all my special flat-mates contributed to a remarkable experience. I will always cherish our memories, laughs, times when we shared our thoughts and views and trips we did together (especially the one to Miami on 4th of July). Generally, I have a huge appreciation for the unconditional support received along the way, either at work from my colleagues and managers, from my fellow MBA students during the MBA classes and projects or from people I met outside the programme. I had also the opportunity to meet other international students from all over the world, during a Foreign Affairs Conference at the US Navel Academy, Maryland (I got to see and listen to the former US president Mr. Bill Clinton in person) or to be overwhelmed by the generosity of the American families that accommodated us during a United Nations weekend organized by One to World in Mountain Lakes, Jersey. Some of these experiences were really life changing or character building and I made some great friends who I am in touch with to this day.

Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship.
Decide what you are expecting from yourself! Make a choice! Decide what you want and go after it with everything you have got. In this crazy and modern busy life that we all live, just take some time for yourself and really decide what you want to be or do, even if that decision means how you would like to spend your year in New York/ London or your time in Bangkok, what do you really want to accomplish at the end of your programme or what exactly can you do next after completion of your programme. Don’t just follow the crowd, make your own personalized story and live your dreams. In life everything comes from a decision you are committed to. Whatever it is that you want to do, just take action and make it happen.

If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
In some parts it was truly an eye-opening experience and now looking back I can’t think of any specific aspect I would like to change. Oh yes, actually there is one. I would have liked for the day to be longer than just 24 hours. With all the MBA projects, classes, work, travels, social events in The City and generally everything you get to be exposed to once you work and live in the busy Big Apple, 24 hours were never enough.

What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
After New York I moved to Bangkok in order to complete my MBA studies and research project (“Framing the Asian Banking Architecture”). The MBA programme, including the writing process of the final dissertation, has been a very fulfilling and rewarding challenge. I couldn’t have succeeded without the help of some amazing people who generously gave up their time and helped my research thesis by sharing their thoughts and views.

Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
After the MBA completion in Bangkok, at the end of December 2014, I returned to Europe and after spending some quality time with my family in Romania, I decided to move to London and continue to build upon my career in banking industry. I was very fortunate to be recommended and supported internally by some of my directors in New York, thus I managed to secure a position that I wanted in JP Morgan, this time in London office. It’s a role in Corporate and Investment Banking, same Oversight & Control environment, interconnected to financial regulation, supervisory overview and emerging risks (themes studied and researched also in my final MBA thesis). It’s perceived to be a subject matter expert role with the responsibility to cover EMEA and Latin America regulatory and control areas, but hopefully in time I’ll manage to find my way and extend my area of interest to Asia-Pacific as well.

Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
Having now developed a “big picture” approach to business via my MBA degree, I ultimately want to build, own and operate my own business. By establishing a business I would like to create jobs for other people and help others (most probably in my country). No matter where my career takes me from here, I also want to continue a strong work-life balance with traveling and maybe moving to other foreign countries outside of the Europe. I know for sure I’ll continue to be curious, invest in myself and live up my dreams.

Connect with Mihaela on LinkedIn.