Núria Gstems: "Experience + Training: The Perfect Combination"

Interview with Núria Gustems, former student of the Master's degree programme in Food Company Management

Q- Why did you decide to do a Master's degree?
A- I graduated in Business Administration and Management, specialised in finance and accounting, but I had no specific training in the food sector. Then one day I saw the leaflet advertising the Master's degree and I signed up.

Q- And what is your evaluation of the experience?
A- Very positive! Doing the Master's degree enabled me to get to know professors in fields such as marketing, purchasing, logistics, consumer affairs, quality, and so on who specialised in the food field, along with professionals from other sectors.

Q- From which other sectors?
A- In my year there were professionals from the meat and bread sector and the hotel trade and so on and it was a highly enriching experience! You spend so many hours in Mercabarna that sometimes you think you're the centre of the universe, that you are unique and are the only one who has to cope with certain problems. But doing the Master's degree makes you realise it isn't like that at all: that there are other professionals from other fields who also have the same difficulties as you. It's the perfect place to share experiences and solutions and, furthermore, to establish new contacts.

Q- At an academic level, what did the Master's degree give you?
A- It gave me specific training in areas such as logistics, purchasing, marketing, production, etc. It's not overly technical training. Instead, it helps you understand concepts. It's a combination of everything that an area or department manager needs to know in order to run a company.

Q- Did you learn anything new?
A- Yes, lots of things! For example, I discovered the concept of quality and the strategies available to give added value to a product. And as they present you specific examples from the food sector, you can see it even more clearly, more closely. That's one of the strong points of the Master's degree, that it's really specific.

Q- In what way has doing this Master's degree been useful to you?
A- It's enabled me to broaden my horizons but above all, it's given me more confidence to start up new lines of business. I understood that traditional business allowed us to cover certain demands, but I saw that there were others we hadn't even considered and which the company could embark upon.

Q- Lack of time, laziness, fear… What do you think stops people from beginning a Master's degree?
A- I think it's a little of everything. On the one hand, we're all really busy and the easiest thing is to continually postpone it. On the other, it's the trepidation of going back to studying. However once you get going it's not so bad. And in the case of fish professionals, we also have the timetable handicap. If you work in the early morning, it's a bit more of a pain having to go and study in the evening…

Q- There may also be some who say, "I've got lots of experience and a Master's degree won't teach me anything new!"
A- Well they're wrong! This Master's degree is really useful for people with experience in the sector. Of course, it won't sort out your life, but it makes you grow as a professional. Training plus experience is a perfect combination.

Q- How would you encourage people to do this Master's degree?
A- I'd say to them that doing this Master's degree gives you the chance to get to know incredibly interesting professors and professionals from other food sectors, and it enables you to learn more and gives you a greater understanding of certain areas. Yet above all, it makes you a better all-rounder, and gives you the tools to solve problems and face up to difficult situations. Today it's the economic recession, but tomorrow it'll be something else.