Interviewing Susana Pérez Badal
Susana Pérez Badal is one of the students of MIA Online II Edition. She has been combining her studies with her profession, as she is an industrial engineer and Warehouse & Materials Project Manager, Scrum Master, and STEM coordinator at BP. In addition, she has recently become the first female member of the board of directors of the Irrigation Union of Castellón (Spain).
1. Now that you have finished your master's degree, how would you define your experience?
As Nelson Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said, education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. That’s why over a year ago I decided to start this master’s degree. It has been an adventure of 12 months that ended recently and that I have combined with my work and family life. During this time I must admit that it has been twelve months of hard study, group work, individual work, cases, tests… but it has been worth it.
In addition, here I have been able to establish relations with other professionals in the sector from all over the world, even if it is virtually.
2. Did you find online group work difficult?
Personally, I was surprised by the diversity among my classmates, something that undoubtedly enriches the group.
Working with five colleagues across the Atlantic has been very enriching and we have learned to manage time in order to meet and solve cases. Now, I’m even an expert on time differences between Argentina, the Dominican Republic or Ecuador compared to Spain.
In fact, in the Finance Module, doing a project for Femago, I was already placed with my later Thesis group members and for me, it was an incredible experience.
3. Which modules would you highlight?
I think each one has given me something good. First, we had the Leadership and Development Skills Module, then the Finance module, which for many of us who come from the Operations area is a bit far away from our previous scope. At first, it seemed easy but then it was a big challenge.
We then underwent the Challenges and Solutions module, where we learned about sustainability, value chain, environmental footprint, etc. And then Strategy, where we learned what is the first thing to start any project or company, internal and external analysis, Pestel, Dafo, Porter, etc…
Before moving on to the Operations module, we made a tour around the different areas of the agricultural sector: horticulture, fishing, and livestock. It was very interesting to know how other areas work and to learn more about the incredible Almeria model that inspires us so much.
At the beginning of the summer, we started the Operations module, which is where some of my colleagues and I were specialists. We felt a bit more relaxed, in our comfort zone. I was happy in that module until I had to get out of my comfort zone and study Marketing.
Then, with the smart agro module, we managed a case study on Cooperativa la Palma and Primaflor, where we saw how important technology and data are in the new type of agribusiness. As a good friend of mine used to say, “if you are not going to digitalize your company in 5 years, sell it today”. This statement may seem very blunt, but if we think about it, digitalization must be part of our strategy. Otherwise, we will already be obsolete.
And finally, we also learned super innovative concepts in the agricultural sector such as Design Thinking, New Product Development, and Open Innovation.
4. Which module was the biggest challenge for you?
No doubts, Marketing! Marketing plans, social media, digital marketing, communication… We are all marketers now, was the title of one of the articles I had to write. Attracting customers today is not only the job of salespeople, that is no longer the case. Attracting customers is the responsibility of the entire organization in every position and department.
5. How was your experience with the Final Thesis?
Enriching. The projects I mentioned above were already giving us ideas for the development of the Final Thesis, which was the icing on the cake of the learning process of the master’s degree. We dedicated many hours and meetings via Teams, Zoom, or Google meet, everything online!
People from different regions and even countries were able to work in unison and we were able to put together the strategic, operational, marketing, and financial direction of a company. Reaching the end of the Master’s after Christmas and presenting the Final Thesis was like planting a tree, having a child, or writing a book, something that you need at least once in your life.
6. What did you think of the teachers?
We have learned a lot thanks to a group of teachers of the highest level that we recognize and admire for all that they gave us. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the professors and, of course, the ISAM team for helping us every day in the organization of the classes and solving doubts.
7. What is your message for the future leaders of agriculture?
In a world where we are living the worst moments since World War II, I go back to Nelson Mandela’s quote. With education, with learning, we can and must make a better, fairer, more sustainable world, where we bring food, and water to the places it is scarce, where trees bloom again where there was fire, and food where there is hunger.
We must join forces and energy to contribute with what we have learned to improve something, even if it is just a little, but always united, for a better world that makes us believe again that this reality is possible.