With a passion for people, Becca Smith was eager to explore the impact of human resources on an organization and IE University provided the perfect springboard for her next career move.

3 min read

Having gone through school in the United States, Becca would be the first to admit she hasn’t followed the most orthodox career path since. Her bachelor’s degree was initially a major in film, which she combined with part-time work as a wedding planner owing to her love of ceremonies and events. An interest in social media saw a pivot to communication studies later in her degree, coupled with a minor in Spanish and a six-month study abroad post in Lima, Peru.

Her time in South America ultimately convinced her to undertake a double major in Spanish and communication studies, as her passions continued to guide her educational journey. Reflecting on the pressure to have her career all figured out from such an early stage, Becca was thankful for her family’s flexible approach, crediting that mindset with her positive choices: “I was able to change and experiment with what I wanted to do when I was an undergraduate and it continued into my career as well.”

Following graduation, she spent a number of years working in Colombia and the United States, where her interest in people began to lead her career down a different path. Becoming aware she would need more formal qualifications in the field, she began seeking master’s degrees that would deepen her understanding of human resources. That’s when she came across IE University’s Master in Talent Development & Human Resources.

I knew that I wanted a program where I could really learn what world-class businesses were doing in terms of their HR departments worldwide.

With her career now well beyond its infancy, Becca wanted to ensure she picked a practical program that would allow her to “immediately rejoin the workforce” upon completing her studies, and the program at IE University seemed to tick all the boxes. She was granted the Fulbright Scholarship to pursue her studies abroad and couldn’t wait to make the move to Madrid.

The opportunity to work with professors who remain leading figures in their industries was a big draw, alongside the chance to implement classroom learning in real-life businesses. Becca’s end-of-year project saw her present a redesigned talent development scheme to international insurance giant MAPFRE. “It really felt like they listened to our ideas. We iterated a couple of solutions for the talent development scheme and they took it away and are hopefully using it or somehow implementing it for themselves.”

It was this tangible industry experience that placed Becca in such an advantageous position to make her next career move. Upon graduation, she spent some time working in academia herself, with a move to the University of Zurich as a research assistant. Ultimately though, she was eager to return to a more hands-on role in the corporate world, leading her to take a job at FIFA as People and Culture Coordinator.

Her main responsibility in her current position is supporting the world football governing body’s with a global mobility project. She took charge of relocating FIFA’s legal and compliance division from Zurich to Miami, while also being heavily involved in the organization’s well-being projects, recruitment and more.

Though a daunting challenge, Becca is thriving in her new role and continues to feel the support of the close-knit IE University community: “I have reached out to different professors who are always willing to chat through any challenges or let me pick their brains on different things.”

It is precisely that community that Becca would encourage any prospective students to take full advantage of: “I tried to make time to build strong relationships with my peers and my professors. Getting an academic degree is always an investment in yourself and the Master in Talent Development & Human Resources was certainly a program where you get out of it what you put in.”