"During my time at IE Business School, I gained so much energy by learning to understand and consider my classmates’ points of view, and this became a big part of the learning experience for me."
Kevin Heyse, Germany
Project Manager in digital-first projects at GSK
- Program studied
That sounds like an exciting and challenging position. What are the most critical elements of such a role?
My big question is, “How can I bring value to the company and get the right people to make it happen?” With that in mind, the three most important things that have proven useful in all of my roles in expanding the capabilities of my team are; formal learning, master classes, and inspiration sessions. These bring everyone up to speed, demystify the tech and digital concepts, and provide examples of how they apply to our business. Subsequently, I want everyone to apply these new skills in practice by proposing and exploring new ideas together in cross-functional teams, which we achieve by working closely with big tech companies and consultancies. Finally, we break each project into smaller chunks, outline the successes, and celebrate each win. This motivates everyone and gets them on board for the journey. The third goal is my biggest challenge, and has proved fundamental, as digital innovation does not happen if you are alone; you need motivated people to support you.
What are the main cornerstones of such a program, and how have they helped you achieve your goals?
Diversity is a flagship of the IE Business School experience, and this leads to people bringing many different nationalities and backgrounds to the program and into the classroom. During my time at IE Business School, I gained so much energy by learning to understand and consider my classmates’ points of view, and this became a big part of the learning experience for me.
In what ways do you think the International MBA has helped you launch your digital-first career?
There was a specific point at which I understood that I wanted to change professions and work in the digital market. I realized that I would need some kind of jump-start to make that happen, which is why I chose the MBA. I applied to IE Business School because of the program’s focus on entrepreneurship and technology, and so you could say I went into the program with that purpose. One of the great things about the IMBA at IE Business School is that it is highly customizable, allowing me to choose electives and work on start-up ideas as well as company collaboration projects focused on the digital area. On top of that, even in the core curriculum of the program, professors discuss digital innovation and entrepreneurship from the outset. Although I did not have tech or digital experience before my International MBA at IE Business School, the program allowed me to learn skills and gain experiences relevant to digital roles in the market.
Which practical skills did you learn during the program that you apply now?
There are three that stand out for me. One is empathy, the second is literacy in business and technology, and the third is creativity.
Empathy is not something people would usually associate with an International MBA program. How do you apply that within a corporate culture?
GSK is a big company with a wide variety of people. As a manager, it’s essential to have developed empathy so that I can put myself in other people’s shoes, understand where they’re coming from, and then begin to lead them effectively. Working with my classmates, who came from all around the world and had very diverse backgrounds and cultures, helped me to strengthen this capacity for empathy.
So how about becoming technically bilingual? Where does that make a difference to the role and its responsibilities?
The IMBA increased both my technological vocabulary and understanding. Through the different projects at IE Business School, I could dig deeper into new technologies and begin to understand their business applications. All the group work also gave me the confidence to lead digital projects—and this was essential because speaking tech and business language is necessary to make progress in my current job.
In early education, we often see that creativity takes a back seat to academic prowess. Why is it so essential to unlock our creative potential for data science, AI, and other digital technology positions?
You need to be creative to work in digital, and that is something that I learned during the IMBA program. IE Business School helped me find ways of thinking that enable me to discover innovative solutions for the company and inspire and challenge the people in the organization to bring those ideas to life.
What is the role of networking in the International MBA?
Networking opportunities during the IMBA are infinite, and I would almost go so far as to say that they are as essential as the classes. Networking starts with your colleagues and continues with your professors and the social events organized by clubs at IE Business School. The professors helped me a lot with my career decisions by giving me great advice and showing me different perspectives. On top of that, Madrid is a beautiful city that puts everyone in the right mood to be open-minded and build connections.nd build connections.
Have creativity and tapping into those skills ultimately aided you in your career at GSK?
In the past, all my jobs have included creating something new, and that’s something that I have enjoyed because I prefer variety over routine on a daily basis. I also like to challenge myself and learn new things. This job has felt like a continuation of my IMBA journey because I am always learning and looking for new and innovative ideas.
As a Project Manager in digital-first projects, what leadership style have you adopted?
This role principally involves digital transformation, requiring collaboration across the business. One of my goals is to establish a common purpose and joint ownership within the teams I lead. While I may be heading up the initiative, I am not its sole owner. I try to transmit the excitement of trying something new, connect each role to the common goal, and create an atmosphere of fun, challenge and support. It is also evident that my leadership style is defined by creating purpose, showing empathy, and good communication. In digital, management of both people and development are key. If people do not understand the why, they will not commit to the how or what.
What do you think the next five years hold for the digital world?
IIn health care specifically, we are seeing a trend in self-care, which aims to empower patients or consumers with information, so that they understand more about themselves and can identify individual ways to improve their health. Through technologies like AI, further analyzing emotions and sentiments is also going to be a big trend. Lastly, with regards to privacy and regulation, technology has advanced quicker than governments and policies, but it will be interesting to see if newer business models are more sustainable and comply with the new regulations.