If everything goes according to plan, this is the year Paula de Diego will complete her Dual Degree in Business Administration and Marketing, and she’ll also finish another official qualification: the European Business Programme from the University of Münster in Germany. As if that weren’t enough, the pandemic hasn’t stopped her from starting her own consultancy company with a fellow student. Things are looking good – so, we interviewed her so that she could tell us more.
Paula with teammates at Markstrat, celebrating their great work in the biggest international business simulation competition.
So, you’ve getting a Dual Degree from CEU UCH and the European Business Program BA from FH Münster. Why did you choose take up this educational opportunity at CEU?
I’d always wanted to study abroad and in English, but for family and educational reasons that wasn’t possible when I left school. So, when I found out that I could spend an Erasmus period at another university where they spoke English and that there’d be no problems with credit recognition, I jumped at the chance.
Right from our first year, our lecturers were always saying that taking part in the Erasmus scheme was the best thing we could do for our futures, because it would open up so many possibilities. And I saw it as a networking opportunity and a chance for us all to move out of our comfort zones.
You spent a whole year in Germany. What did this international experience do for you?
It was one of the best years of my life. Education-wise, I loved it, because the approach taken at the university is a completely practical one. I got the chance to work with local companies and to see how all the processes worked at first hand.
My favourite classes were all about international entrepreneurship, and at one of them we even got the chance to present our projects to the directors of a multinational company!
‘My time in Münster was one of the best years of my life. We even got the chance to present our projects to the directors of a multinational company.’
Was it difficult to adjust to day-to-day life there?
It was a big change, because I went from living with my family in a place with a really great climate to living alone in a studio flat, in a town where, if it wasn’t raining, it was snowing.
The great thing about Münster is that you can get to wherever you need in fifteen minutes, either on foot or by bike (you almost have to have a bike to live there) and, of course, that makes it much easier to get to a friend’s place or to meet up somewhere. I miss that quite a bit [laughs].
Paula, how important is it for students to make sure they’re ready for today’s globalized world?
It’s essential, because our professional horizons are no longer limited to a particular city or even country. There are no borders or frontiers for us anymore. I think that a lot of people are afraid of moving out of their comfort zone, afraid of the unknown. They don’t realize that we all feel a little anxious when we move away from what we’re used to, but, in the end, I think that, if you don’t do it, you’ll look back and regret not taking that step forward.
We can see that you’re glad you did. Tell us why you’d recommend doing the programme at FH Münster.
I’d definitely recommend it, 100%. It’s one of the best universities and the classes there are fantastic.
But it’s not just that: because it’s such an international university, there are people from all over the world, from Colombia to China.
Whenever people ask me whether it’s worth going there for a year, I always say that maybe a year isn’t long enough [laughs].
‘Many people are afraid of moving out of their comfort zone, but I think that, if you don’t do it, when you look back, you’ll regret not taking that step forward.’
You’ve studied for two degrees, gained an extra qualification in another country and yet you’ve also participated in other learning opportunities, such as the Markstrat competition and a COIL programme with students at Tecnológico de Monterrey. Is it important to take all the internationalization opportunities that the University offers?
Of course. It all helps you to learn how people from other cultures and in other countries work. And that prepares you for the future, because you might be in a situation where you need to do business with someone from China, say, and, if you don’t know about their way of doing things or their way of negotiating, you might end up losing that customer.
As well as the international opportunities you’ve mentioned, I’ve also took part in other interesting activities at the University, such as CEU Emprende. It’s a great opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship – and that’s what I’m doing right now.
With Andrea Maldonado, her Land it. partner. Andrea was also in the news at CEU for taking part in a charity rally. Read all about it here
The perfect segue! Despite your focus on your studies, you’ve also set up Land it., a consultancy company. How did that happen?
Well, it all started when I met Andrea, my Land it. co-founder. We became great friends, because we both love marketing and, after studying on the “brand policies” course, we realized that we were both passionately interested in brands and what lies behind them.
After the whole coronavirus thing began, we were constantly sending each other links to courses, webinars, and brand profiles, and then we decided to help our families and friends with their companies, just to try out the experience, really. It turned out that we loved it, so we continued with it and then decided to bring our ideas together and set up a company.
We’ve been working now for almost five months non-stop and we keep adding new accounts.
‘Learning how people from other cultures and other countries work prepares you for the future.’
What do you do at Land it. exactly? Because it looks like it’s going well.
We’re brand and social media consultants who use creative solutions to ensure that the ideas of entrepreneurs and small businesses land on fertile ground.
As we work 100% online, the pandemic hasn’t been a problem for us. In fact, as we work completely online, we’ve been able to work with clients and partners in different countries, such as Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador and Spain itself.
For us, to have a community of followers on Instagram and TikTok is a great achievement. Obviously, we want to get many more, but the fact that almost 800 people follow us and even like what we post is incredible.
Paula with her Markstrat team, preparing for the final presentation.
Goals for the future?
The major goals in the short term are to get more followers on social media, to get at least two brand consultations per month and to start to create products that can help our clients.
Go for it. Do you think entrepreneurship is the key to career success?
It depends on the person – not everyone has that entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve always wanted to have at least one company and I’m incredibly proud of having taken that step now.
The truth is that being an entrepreneur makes for a very difficult life and at the beginning you may have to work very long days, but it’s worth it.
‘We’re brand and social media consultants who use creativity to ensure that the ideas of entrepreneurs and small businesses land on fertile ground.’
Paula, there’s a question we have to ask. Are you satisfied with the CEU experience?
Very much so. That’s how I’ve met people who are now extremely important in my life, giving me the chance to do what I’m doing right now.
But, above all, it’s given me the opportunity to discover that I love branding and everything connected with the creation of a brand, thanks to my classes with José Amiguet.
Aasee, Münster’s artificial lake, the ideal place to meet up with friends
He’ll be glad to hear that. To finish, do have any advice for the rest of the university community?
Wow, you’ve put me on the spot [laughs]. To other students, I’d say don’t let things get on top of you. If you feel exhausted, then have a rest, because your mind can’t be on the go 24/7.
The pandemic’s really messed up our lives in so many ways, and one of the things it’s affected is our mental health. We’ve had more work to do, more pressure, and yet we’re much more disconnected from each other too.
So my advice would be: don’t feel bad about spending a few hours a day looking at TikToks, or on the PlayStation, or video-calling your friends, or doing whatever you do to unwind, because we all need to switch off and certainly you shouldn’t let anyone judge you for doing that.
‘CEU has enabled me to meet people who are now extremely important in my life, giving me the chance to do what I’m doing right now.’
Thank you so much, Paula. Congratulations on your recent achievements and keep going so that there are many more.