Alexandre López graduated from Instituto de Educación Secundaria (IES) Alfonso X “El Sabio” in Murcia, Spain. He currently works in the consulting department at IMS Health, an American multinational company that provides information, consulting and technology services in the health field.
Why did you originally decide to pursue an IB diploma? What appealed to you about the programme?
I remember that what initially stood out to me most was that I would be able to link subjects that were very different from each other, such as Latin and environmental systems and societies.
This is not only important for acquiring a wide range of knowledge but is also key for analyzing problems from different points of view. In my case it also helped me decide on the direction in which I wanted to take my studies, since I had the opportunity to take a lot of courses and develop a better idea about what I might like to study at university.
Tell us about your current work: was there a moment when you knew you wanted to pursue this career?
I currently work in the consulting department at IMS Health, an American multinational company that provides information, consulting and technology services in the health field. Our clients seek consulting services to solve different problems related to marketing and selling pharmaceutical products, such as launching a new cancer treatment.
It took me a while to discover that consulting could be an interesting career option. It wasn’t until the 3rdyear of my degree, during an internship in the professional careers department at the business school, that I discovered that working in consulting meant solving complex problems, working on a team and conveying information in a clear and concise way, and that seemed incredibly interesting to me.
During the final year of my degree, I started working in a small Corporate Finance office where I was able to work on small consulting projects for SMEs and startups in Barcelona. A few months later, I ended up starting a consulting firm with a friend to help students from my university find work and internships at companies. Although the project did not go as well as I had hoped, it was incredibly interesting, and I learned how to manage a small business.
Right after closing my business, I got my first job at a management consulting firm, working first in the airline industry. One year later this opportunity to work in the pharmaceutical sector at IMS Health came up.
Which of your IB teachers inspired you most? Did you have a mentor or teacher that left a strong positive impression?
I remember the theory of knowledge classes with Prudencio Jiménez fondly. There were open discussions that the entire class participated in and during which we learned from our classmates and the teacher.
Generally speaking, it was the experience as a whole, and not just one person that left an impression on me. The readings in the Spanish course, the history essays, Latin translations, labs and trips for the environmental systems and societies course: a myriad of experiences that have had an impact on how I think and act.
Did the extended essay, TOK and CAS prepare you for university? Are there skills that you developed that you still use today?
The extended essay, TOK and CAS have all been valuable for me, not just at university, but also later on in my professional career and personal life. They were all great preparation for the type of work you encounter at university. They all require a coherent structure, development of relevant conclusions and knowledge of how to communicate them. All of this helps you during university, and not just in the academic area.
In addition, thanks to CAS I learned that I was also interested in being involved in helping wider society. I understood the contemporary role of associations, and for most of my time at university I was a member of the AIESEC student association, which is dedicated to fostering leadership experiences with students from around the world.
Did you face any obstacles during your education, studies or career? How did you overcome them?
Having to close the company that I had founded was a turning point in my professional career. When you start a project from scratch, with enthusiasm and hope, and it doesn’t take off, it’s always hard to accept. However, it was a great learning experience, and though I wasn’t able to move it forward at that time, it gave me incredibly useful knowledge and skills.
What advice do you have for current IB students that are thinking about a career like yours?
I would suggest that they try to find what motivates them, what that they feel passionate about and what interests them. Having a goal in mind always helps make the journey easier later on. However, you also have to be flexible and accept that sometimes we can get it wrong (it is guaranteed that we’ll get it wrong at some point). We should learn from our mistakes and constantly improve.