Magdalena Radziewska, Polish IE International MBA 2016 graduate, joined Booking.com as Senior Operational Excellence Specialist in Credit Control EMEA this January in their Amsterdam HQ. Prior to the MBA, she worked in financial services for over 5 years. In her last job, she was a Compliance Examiner at the National Futures Association, a US derivatives market regulator. She was based in Chicago, but traveled extensively across the US on audits. She explains “although I enjoyed my work, I couldn’t see a clear path of where I was going, I needed a change and I acted on it. The MBA allowed me to make a significant change in terms of function, industry and location, a triple jump which is known to be the most difficult thing for an MBA to achieve.”
“The MBA allowed me to make a significant change in terms of function, industry and location, a triple jump which is known to be the most difficult thing for an MBA to achieve.”
Q: Can you please tell us briefly about your new job?
A: I am a part of 4-person Operational Excellence team within Credit Control EMEA. We are responsible for innovations around collection processes, tooling and partner communications. It’s a very relationships driven role as on one hand, I need to involve multiple stakeholders in our projects and on the other, I need to get people’s buy in as it’s all about change management. It’s also interesting because there are 15 regions within EMEA, each very different in terms of cultural behaviors, language and market specifications, and the challenge we are faced with is how to find globally scalable but locally relevant solutions for our partners.
Q: Has your personal career strategy always been focused on this job?
A: No, not at all. I was one of those people who came into MBA as “soul searchers.” What I didn’t realize, was how hard it is to find things that you’re truly passionate about, or in some cases, how to narrow your passions to focus on one career path. I challenged myself throughout the year by attending all sorts of events, listening to people speak about their career experiences, networking and mentoring. I was scared of tough questions but I knew I couldn’t achieve what I achieved without digging deep down into myself. It wasn’t easy. I cried sometimes thinking I couldn’t do it. I’m not saying I got it all figured out now. I think we discover new things about ourselves every day and because of that, I won’t stop challenging myself professionally and personally.
“I was scared of tough questions but I knew I couldn’t achieve what I achieved without digging deep down into myself. It wasn’t easy.”
Q: How did you find out about this job opportunity? How was the recruiting process?
A: It’s a funny story. I found a completely different position within the same team at Booking’s career website. When I applied online, I was automatically rejected but I knew I was qualified. There is a Polish saying, that when someone shuts the door in front of you, you need to get in through the window to get what you want. So I searched through LinkedIn, and sent my cover letter directly to a few people from the department. Two days later I was invited for the first interview with HR. After that, I had a video interview with two managers and at the end, I was invited to come to Amsterdam for the last round. All interviews focused on past experiences related to people’s management (behavioral questions), and scenario questions. They also looked deeply into my motivation as to why Booking.
Long story short, after the last interview, the managers thought I would be a much better fit for an operational position (my current position) that was just being drafted. I had to go through one more round of interviews for which I had to prepare two business cases and present for 45 minutes. I couldn’t have been able to do so well, if not for the business case cracking and presentation skills I learned at IE.
Q: How did Talent and Careers and your IE experience help you during the recruiting process? Did you use specific career resources or did you come across useful information via an advisor or alumni?
A: As I mentioned before, IE gave me the tools and support to develop my career strategy. As a Section Career Representative, I was involved in various events and company presentations which helped me expand my alumni network and learn about different industries. But nothing was handed to me on a silver platter. My job search involved a lot of self discipline and motivation to research and network, it took countless revisions of CV and cover letters. It was hard work but it definitely paid off.
“My job search involved a lot of self discipline and motivation to research and network, it took countless revisions of CV and cover letters. It was hard work but it definitely paid off.”
Q: Would you want to share any tips or advice with student interested in applying to Booking.com?
A: Absolutely. I am happy to talk to and share my experience with anyone who is interested in Booking.com, so feel free to find me on LinkedIn.
In general, I’d say get to know the company very well and make sure you fit the culture. Booking is very focused on hiring the right personalities and even if you don’t fit the job description perfectly, but you’re down to earth, humble, and motivated to roll up your sleeves, you’re more than good to go. Personality shines in an interview.
I didn’t tick many boxes in my current role’s description, I didn’t even have the industry experience, but they saw something in me -maybe drive, maybe skills, or charisma- and they gave me a chance. Don’t sell yourself short!