• Peruvian extols the benefits of vigorous networking.
  • ESSEC MBA shifted his focus from Europe to Asia.
  • The leader encourages independent thinking in the evolving work landscape.

Only some undertakings have the life-changing potential of an MBA. And the process was especially seismic for Jorge Rodriguez, whose stint at ESSEC Paris proved to be a boon for love and leadership.

From the exacting academic schedule with its formidable time commitment to the intensive interaction with lecturers and fellow participants worldwide, an MBA is a supreme challenge with myriad benefits.

For Rodriguez, the co-founder and managing director of Influential Brands—one of Asia’s top management consultancies—his specialization in luxury brand management supercharged his future life direction in unexpected ways.

The MBA Experience

For one, it gave him the tools and motivation to advance his professional career. It gave him a significant nudge toward Asia by introducing him to his Singaporean wife, a fellow student in the program.

Following his MBA, he performed leadership roles in Singapore at Nielsen and Brand Alliance Group. His decision to focus his energies on Influential Brands—which he set up in 2012—was realizing a long-held vision to move away from the corporate sphere.

“Having met my wife while pursuing an MBA at ESSEC, I went through a journey of finding my other half and building my career,” he recalls.

“Having a family is important as it also sets the pace for your career development. When my third child was born, I decided to run my own business to better balance my work and life.”

Opening Doors With an Open Mind

Born in Peru and with early leadership experience around Latin America and Europe, Rodriguez was well-versed in interacting with contemporaries from different cultures when he arrived at ESSEC Paris. Nevertheless, he credits the MBA with opening his mind further.

“Having an open mind, being accepting of different cultures and values, and learning the importance of building a good network are some of the key takeaways I still apply today,” he says.

“An MBA is an investment, and you must ensure you get the best ROI. My advice to anyone would be to prioritize networking and building relationships. There is no better time to make connections.”

Networking Makes the Brand Work

A formidable contacts book is critical to the success of Influential Brands. Leveraging Rodriguez’s branding knowledge, know-how, and expertise in Asia, the company seeks to provide knowledge, raise awareness of desirable brands, and celebrate the unique aspects of Asian-based businesses.

The consultancy reports on market trends and advises different B2B and B2C brand owners—including some of Asia’s leading business organizations. Solutions cover business and brand strategy, industry insights, sales and operations management, market research, marketing, and media effectiveness.

“Through our unique methods, Influential Brands hopes to be a platform and champion of brand thought-leadership,” adds Rodriguez.

“As the company grows in terms of reputation, clientele, and services, I can envision diversifying into new business verticals in partnership with established companies.” Rodriguez is proud of how influential brands can effectively evolve to face new challenges.

He cites an instance where the consultancy recently assisted a client in the Artificial Intelligence industry to increase brand awareness and customer engagement. Rodriguez admits that acquiring comprehension of the AI industry was a steep learning curve. However, the successful assimilation of the knowledge highlighted the veracity of the Influential Brands service.

Balancing Success

In a personal sense, Rodriguez relishes the balance he has achieved. Indeed, he urges aspiring MBA participants to adopt independent thinking early to ensure that various career paths remain on the table.

“I will tell anyone that they should think about how to apply the knowledge gained during an MBA to start your own business,” he says. “In an evolving world, I would recommend students to keep in mind both potential tracks in their careers.”