Q&A with Mikhail Gusev 18MEMBA

Working professionals talk ins and outs of getting an MBA and how Goizueta has helped them professionally.


Mikhail Gusev 18MEMBA
Global Finance Manager
The Coca-Cola Company 

Q: Why did you decide to pursue an MBA program? What skills were you hoping to gain or changes were you hoping to make professionally?

After more than a decade at The Coca-Cola Company, I have determined that my professional interests and career goals lie in the company’s Mergers and Acquisitions or Strategy function. I wanted to try something new, to negotiate for the betterment of the company and strategize for future success. Before joining GBS, I have developed and refined my professional skills through cross-functional projects with marketing, bottling operations, international assignments and financial management.

However, the position in Mergers and Acquisitions or Strategy required a broader sense of business acumen with a focus on acquisitions strategies, negotiation and understanding of financial markets. Therefore, I decided to join Emory’s Executive MBA program to not only equip myself with the knowledge and tools to become a contributing member of the team but to challenge my way of thinking, open my mind to new ideas and introduce a diverse class of future business leaders. 


Q: Talk about your experiences at Goizueta. How did the program meet or exceed your expectations?

Before joining GBS, I have never studied in the U.S. So, I could only compare my experience with my undergraduate years in Russia. First of all, I found teaching style in the U.S. more inspirational, insightful and flexible in comparison with my home country. In addition, GBS has vast educational resources that are available for students: huge business library, many business databases, access to academic research, and support of school staff and faculty who are always happy to meet and provide guidance. These resources are extremely helpful if one is doing research or simply wants to learn something new. 


Q: How have you been able to take what you learned at Goizueta and apply it to your current position? Please give examples.

There were many instances where I was able to apply knowledge that I learned at Goizueta. I wanted to share one example. As a finance manager at The Coca-Cola Company, I oversee a number of global initiatives in international markets. For instance, one of the projects that I was working on was EKOCENTER initiative. Coca-Cola is partnering with public and private sector organizations to bring basic necessities to millions of people through EKOCENTER initiative, with a vision to empower community well-being through social enterprise.

In a nutshell, EKOCENTER is a modular community market that is run by a local entrepreneur and also provides safe water, solar power, internet access and sells Coca-Cola Company products, small groceries and more. Part of my job was to assess the value and profitability of the EKOCENTER business. Thanks to the knowledge I obtained during capital management, I was able to quickly build a financial model to assess the profitability of the project and its intrinsic value using the Discounted Cash Flow method. I discussed the valuation with our Merging and Acquisition department and received a great feedback. I presented my analysis to the company’s senior management, as a result, the project was approved and moved to the execution phase.


Q: What advice or recommendation would you give to someone thinking about pursuing an MBA at Goizueta?

I did not join the MBA with the objective to change my industry or career. Like most MBA candidates, my goal was to excel in a corporate world, acquire new skills and get to a next career level. While I did achieve some of my goals and discover new ones, I would not say that the MBA is for everyone. Success in your career will depend on many things: what kind of people you are connected to; your ability to change yourself and learn something new every day; your risk tolerance; your ability to learn from your mistakes; your resilience and the list goes on and on. While MBA is not a must, getting back to school will force you to dedicate time, energy and resources to absorb new knowledge quickly. For me, MBA became a truthfully transformational experience.

Here are a few recommendations that I can share: 

  1. Be open to new knowledge and embrace that your initial goals are likely to change during the program. You only get out what you put in. So don’t expect more until you do more.
  2. If you are married like me or in a serious relationship, an MBA is likely to have an impact on your family life. Keep in mind that you won’t be mentally and physically available as you used to. Life will go on and you need to keep up with it. Therefore, be sure to explain to your partner what challenges you are going through and try to set aside some time to spend it with your loved ones. It seems obvious but it might be hard to do.
  3. Be ready that an MBA will have an impact on your current job. From an employer perspective, it’s often seen as a threat. They anticipate that you are going to leave or start requesting to change the way work is being done. Your everyday approach to work is likely to change and your boss may no longer recognize the person he/she had hired. If your organization doesn’t have a culture around career growth or career planning, it might be hard. Therefore, you should put in extra effort to explain to your boss what benefits you would be able to provide to the organization while emphasizing the short-term impact on your performance. Getting your boss on the same page is extremely important.
  4. An MBA will provide you the network and will also teach you how to manage and expand it but only if you are ready to invest your time and effort to connect with your class, professors and alumni. Be sure to allocate time to engage with people around you. If you have networking event or some guest coming to present to the class, take your time to introduce yourself and connect with this person. Later you may realize that it is one of the best things that happened to you at school.

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