Eva Hubsman (MBA 2009) likes to make big decisions, sometimes with little security, confident that she will figure out how to cope with challenges that arise. Change is normal; disruption is an opportunity. Her family moved to Israel from Romania when she was 13, she speaks four languages and has studied and worked in many nations across different continents.
When her partner, later her husband, was offered a post in Switzerland, her reaction was: “We’re going to move to Switzerland. I’ll find a job.” He advised her that there was a highly regarded business school in Lausanne, and she applied for the MBA at IMD.
“I visited the campus and once I visited the campus, I was like: ‘Yes. That is what I want to do’.”
When she graduated in 2009 following the global financial crisis, she received two job offers: for a finance post in Switzerland, and a role at the Global Strategy Group at Samsung in South Korea. She opted for the latter because it was so far removed from anything she had known before. She became the principal earner for the household, and her husband became primary carer for their two daughters, born in Korea.
When a senior colleague, on a two-person market study trip for Samsung in Europe and North America, suggested she begin to take the lead in business meetings, she did so.
“The next day, I prepared. I remember sitting down, preparing my questions … it wasn’t very comfortable, but I did it and then the next day, it goes a little bit easier.”
Her year at IMD was transformational in not only equipping her with analytical ability, knowledge and confidence, but overturning some limiting beliefs:
“Being in the finance department, and especially in a tech environment, you are looked upon as not value generators. It’s rather an administrative position, something that needs to be done … [I felt] that I really needed to leave finance otherwise I couldn’t really move ahead as a business professional. And when I came to IMD, it really dawned on me that that’s not necessarily the truth. Finance can be a major driver to the business.”
In the highest performing organizations, all functions combine to add value as a synchronized whole. To contribute fully, however, a finance professional needs to develop a rounded understanding of business operations and strategy.
At the global strategy role at Samsung, she and her colleagues were tasked with projects such as researching new markets, planning product launches, preparations for mergers and acquisitions.
“For me, IMD was one prolonged ‘Aha!’ moment”
She was with the strategy group for two years, before being moved to the Green Energy Business Unit, a role that involved mostly external party management. As the only foreigner on the team, and often this being her only relevant credential for the assignment, she was tasked with negotiating with European Union legislators over planned changes to legislation in Romania on renewable technologies, setting up local PR strategies or assisting the project management team in their negotiations with the local electricity companies. She even had a chance to use her long forgotten Romanian…
The challenge and rigor of the IMD modules and cases prepared her well, she found: “What IMD provides is this, I would say, mentality of: ‘I can do that. Why wouldn’t I be able to do that?’”
Much of this confidence, she says, stems from the group case work, which involves challenging scenarios such as product development or crisis management. “They put you in a group and they give you a case and then you need to work out how you’re going to manage this crisis.
Asked to recall some vivid learning moments during her year in Lausanne, she replies: “For me, IMD was one prolonged ‘Aha!’ moment.
”After being based in South Korea for four years, she returned to Israel, in part to be nearer extended family as her daughters were growing up. She has taken on CFO roles within the venture capital industry, respectively at Triventures and the Israel Secondary Fund, where additionally she is partner. As she describes it, her roles have been closer to a COO role. She was described by colleagues at Triventures as “probably the only person other than the managing partner who has the full picture.”
She encourages junior colleagues to develop a rounded comprehension of the business – not to lock themselves in any one role. The more they branch out, the more valuable they become for an organization.
“What IMD provides is this, I would say, mentality of: ‘I can do that. Why wouldn’t I be able to do that?’”
“If you’re an investment professional you need to be involved on the contractual part of the transaction. You can’t just say ‘This is a good investment.’ You really need to see the legal and financial considerations. For me that’s so instinctual today but it was not always the case. The shift happened at IMD and in Samsung.”Eva Hubsman fizzes with energy, and most certainly provides inspiration as well as guidance to newer recruits.
She devotes most of her considerable energy to her family and her career but hopes that in the future she will have time for more volunteer work. Whether in a finance role, or strategy, or a combination, she will always be adding value.