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Sebastian-Alexander Demel

Alumni Story

Even before IEU, Sebastian enjoyed a very international upbringing and education. Growing up in South America and several European countries, he is fluent in 5 languages and brings with him a wealth of experiences after having completed several internships in the consulting sector and start-ups. After completing his Bachelor in Business Administration at IE, six months ahead of schedule, he decided to follow one of his long-held passions and completed a Chef Diploma at Le Cordon Bleu London. At Lavazza Group, he has now been able to combine his passion for gourmet products with the business sphere, currently working as a Product Manager at the company’s new specialty coffee brand 1895 in their headquarters in Italy.
POSITION

Product Manager 1895, Lavazza Group

Nationality

German

Program studied

BBA 2019

Current Location

Turin, Italy

Q&A WITH SEBASTIAN

Could you tell us about the application process and your role at Lavazza?
I applied to the Lavazza Group during my Master studies in International Food and Beverage Management at ESCP, Torino, Italy. The application process consisted of three rounds of interviews, both virtually and in person with the HR team, management, and C-Level executives, where my critical thinking ability, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills were tested.

For me personally, a key contributor to work for Lavazza was the hands-on practical approach and entrepreneurial, international mind set required for this position. At my current role, I can now leverage my inherent interpersonal and strong language skills in the internationalisation of the 1895 brand, interacting with coffee farmers, traders, and suppliers predominantly located in South America.

Tell us about your day-to-day.
The great thing about my day-to-day is that there is no day-to-day. 1895 Coffee Designers by Lavazza can be considered a company within a company, a brand to be used as an innovation hub to test group-wide initiatives. As such, 1895 can truly be regarded a start-up with a backbone of one of the biggest coffee roasters worldwide. While job-titles may exist, responsibilities extend far beyond them. In the recent weeks working towards the official 1895 brand launch, the team rotated between the headquarters and the physical roasting facility specifically developed for 1895: coffee samples were tasted, brand accessories finalized, the consumer experience optimized.

How did your experience at IEU prepare you for your professional career and what was the competitive advantage studying at IEU provided?
IE is highly international, technologically completely up-to-date, and has an outstanding set of professors who combine academic excellence with practical professional experience that all of them have gathered in the industry they are teaching us about.

It is in this rigorous academic environment that also life-long friendships and relationships – both amongst students and professors – are established. IE has successfully managed to create a diverse community of individuals who have completely different backgrounds, upbringings, and interests, yet somehow remain like-minded and inherently connected for their entire life.

If I was to choose again, I would always make the same choice: IE.

Do you have any advice for IEU students and alumni who are looking to pursue a career in your field and what skills do you consider are needed to succeed in your field?
Passion is everything.

I have found that, unlike in other business sectors, the Food & Beverage industry doesn’t actively seek streamlined characters with ‘one-size-fits-all’ CVs – but rather encourages those who are passionate, different, and go above and beyond.

From the feedback I received during interviews, I have learned that my practical, hands-on experience with high-end products at Le Cordon Bleu London truly made me stand out from the pool of applicants. I strongly believe that this, combined with my genuine interest in the strategic/managerial part and the whole product from the farming stage to the final cup – was a true game changer for me.

Tell us about the IEU alumni community and the impact they have had in your life and/or career.
With much love and enthusiasm, I am thinking back to my time in Madrid – I continue to have a strong connection with the country, the university, and the people.

Part of what makes IE so attractive is its location – the centre of Madrid. It is a vibrant city, a city with an intrinsic charm that has taught me to learn and love the Spanish language and way of life.

The friendships and connections I have established at IE are the ones that shaped me the most – and I know that I will keep for a lifetime.

Why do you think it’s important to engage with the IEU alumni community?
Your alumni act as a reference point as to what people of your age and educational background have reached.

They thus can be two things: 1) A Motivation and 2) An Inspiration

A Motivation – to achieve more, aim higher, do better.
An Inspiration – professionally and personally – a point of contact you can always reach out to, ask for guidance and advice.

What skills would you recommend job seekers develop in order to make them more competitive in today’s workforce?

  1. Languages, languages, languages: In today’s fast-paced and international business world, an international mindset, language proficiency, and intercultural competence have become skills that render you an asset at companies. I am currently working on becoming fully fluent in Italian to add another language to my personal portfolio.
  2. Study, study, study: Academic excellence always pays off.
  3. Network, network, network: IE provides you with all means to build and grow your personal and professional network. Embrace it.

What’s the best career advice you have ever been given?
It is not one that I have been given, but one that I would like to give. Don’t always follow pre-formed paths – Dare to be different and make your own.

If someone was considering going to IEU, what would you tell them?
Just do it.

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