Go back

Nicolás Fernández

Alumni Story

Nicolas Fernández always had one thing clear: he wanted to become a salesman. Nicolas began his journey by studying the BBA at IE where he armed himself with valuable knowledge and hard skills, and continued building on his soft skills through practical experiences through internships at Mediaset, DDB, Axel Springer, and Nike before landing a management position at P&G. He's looking forward to sharing more about the journey of becoming a salesman in the FMCG industry.
POSITION

Sales Account Manager at Procter & Gamble

Nationality

Spanish

Program studied

BBA 2019

Current Location

Madrid, Spain

Q&A WITH NICOLAS

Could you tell us about the application process and how you got your current role?
I was interested in Procter and Gamble from the start, so I went into their website and found an open position as a Sales Account Manager. I had recently finished my internship at Nike and although a position as a Sales Account Manager wasn’t precisely an entry-level job, I decided to go for it and give it a shot.

The first round consisted of a test and it wasn’t an easy test. I decided to only focus on this application and devoted all my time to prepare for the test. I took it and the hard work payed off.

HR called me for a 30-minute phone interview to get a first glance of my motivations, why I wanted to work at Procter, and what I liked the most about the industry and role.

Afterwards, I got sent to the Madrid office to do an assessment on mathematical and analytical skills.

Then, I had three back-to-back interviews in-person with senior sales managers and directors in which they tested my behavioural skills with real-life examples of challenging situations in sales in order to see how I would respond to them. They would also shoot random math questions throughout the interview to test your response capacity. They also tested my English abilities, ethics with real life examples, and teamwork abilities.

One week later I received the offer.

How did your experience at IEU prepare you for your professional career?
I believe IE prepared me for my professional career in three main ways:

Multicultural teamwork: At IE, you work in teams with people from all over the world. This teaches you collaboration, adaptability, and learning to listen and participate. To constantly be working on team projects, gives you the necessary skills to be a valuable team player at the company you decide to work for.

Presentation skills: At IE you’re constantly exposed to presenting your work to an audience. By doing this repeatedly, you build solid presentation skills and feel comfortable with public speaking. This very much comes in handy when you are at a company and have to present your work as you already feel confident in your abilities to do so.

Entrepreneurship: The entrepreneurial spirit at IE is certainly contagious. In our courses, we were constantly challenged to come up with new ideas, re-think businesses, and identify opportunities. This is very useful, not only if you want to become an entrepreneur, but it you want to come into a company and be an intrapreneur. Someone who comes up with new ideas and challenges processes to improve the company’s performance.

What is the competitive advantage that studying at IEU provides or has provided you?
Certainly, the entrepreneurial spirit. When you take this mindset into a company, you dare to ask questions most of the people are afraid to ask. You constantly seek ways to bring innovation into what you do and do not settle for what is. This attitude has enabled me to propose new solutions at the companies I’ve worked for and bring improvements.

Do you have any advice for IEU students and alumni who are looking to pursue a career in sales in the consumer goods industry?
I think it is a smart choice. Not only is it a dynamic and fast industry, but it is also quite resilient in times of crisis. Keep in mind that the FMCG industry is quite vast and always on the move, so it is a great place to learn, grow, and have an impact. I don’t think people are aware of how large the industry is and how much money and products it moves. This allows you to have a lot of responsibility from day one. Moreover, if you are interested in sales, FMCG is the best place to learn. The sales network of companies like Procter and Gamble is huge and you learn sales from the best.

What skills do you consider are needed to succeed in sales?
First and most importantly, you need to develop a solid emotional intelligence. At the end of the day, in sales, you are working with people. You are selling to people and managing people’s expectations. You need to be able to anticipate their needs and communicate your wants effectively. Earning people’s trust is also crucial as deals are based on this.

Secondly, in FMCG you are not there to sell. You are there to negotiate. These products are basic staples in every household, so in a sense, they practically sell themselves. Which is why having solid negotiation skills is key in order to make the most of the sales and look for opportunities.

Sales is a data-heavy role. You need to have strong analytical skills (dominate excel too) that allow you to interpret results and draw important conclusions.

Tell us about the IEU alumni community and the impact they have had in your life and/or career.
Once you are IE, you’ll always be IE. As you and your class graduates and goes on to start their professional careers, you realize the value of the connections you’ve made. Having contacts in the best companies around the world is fascinating, as you can reach out and learn from different industries. You often come across other IE alumni at your workplace and instantly have a point of connection. You are lucky to be part of such a well-connected network of students.

Why do you think it’s important to engage with the IEU alumni community?
Because IEU Alumni are always open to help. If you find an interesting alumnus, reach out! And while you are still studying at IE, work on your connections and meet as many people as you can. You never know what opportunities it could bring.

What skills would you recommend job seekers develop in order to make them more competitive in today’s workforce?
First, I would say, if you want to be a competitive candidate, start by getting clear on what you want to do professionally. What role interests you and why, what industry, and what company/companies. Recruiters can tell the difference between someone that is applying because they are a true fit for the company from someone who is just applying to everything they see.

Focus on building skills that match with the job you want to get. Prepare a kick-ass application that is tailored to the role, company, and industry you want to go into. Quality over quantity when it comes to applications. This is what will truly make your profile stand out from the rest.

What’s the best career advice you have ever been given?
Act like a manager: This was something that my boss at Nike told me while I was doing my internship. He always encouraged me to take ownership and responsibility as if I was a manager, even if I was just an intern. I took his advice and still apply it at my work today. I realized how important it is to seek to contribute at the highest-level no matter what your job title is. This is what will set you apart and take you to interesting places.

What is one thing you wished you knew when you were a student?
I wish I knew how important it was to practice leadership skills while being a student. Take the lead in projects, be responsible, professional, and attentive to detail in what you do. The sooner you start working on these skills, the better prepared you will be to come into a company and be professional.

If someone was considering going to IEU, what would you tell them?
Go for it, you won’t regret it. You’ll meet amazing people from all over the world, learn from inspiring professionals, and gain practical knowledge that will prepare you for a successful career. I think what really sets IE apart is the focus on hands-on projects, case studies, and teamwork. These are all things that you will encounter in your professional life and IE does a great job at preparing you for them.

TO CONTACT NICOLAS, CLICK HERE