How the MBA program strengthens my digital transformation "mission"

Aldo Jesus Silva Toledo is originally from Mexico City and an eCommerce Manager at an international company for global spare parts business in the automotive industry. Before he embarked on his GBS journey and joined the GBS Digital MBA in 2020 amidst the pandemic, Aldo had already traveled the world while studying in Canada and living in the US, before moving to Germany in early 2019.

As a GBS Thought Leader 2020 and student of the Digital Transformation MBA program, what is your mission and how do you want to make a difference?

I want to help people to understand the impact of digital transformation to their businesses and give them the tools to remain globally competitive for their communities. This is also why I chose to apply for the Digital Transformation MBA: I wanted to discover the fundamentals on digital transformation and deepen my understanding with strategies and methods that drive my workplace. I see this program as an opportunity to discover tools to validate personal product and services ideas in the market.

You started the program despite the current pandemic. Looking back, what was your motivation to do so and how do you judge your decision today?

When coming to Frankfurt, I wanted to grow my network in Germany and gain new friends who live in the Frankfurt area. On the positive side, with the pandemic, existing friendships did not suffer a lot because there was not much to do for anyone anyway. Moreover, due to the remote-work regulations that companies rolled-out since then time management was simpler. I remember that if I wanted to start working on university tasks, it was necessary to turn off my work computer and turn on my private one. On the other side, it was all related to the impact of the pandemic on our everyday lives, and consequently the university life. Ideally, I would of course have wanted to experience lectures and discussions with my peers in one classroom rather than in front of a computer. But I understood that in a time, where face to face interaction is limited, we need to turn to digital means to interact with each other. Therefore, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Zoom and Microsoft Teams had become the tools to expand my network and connect closer to my cohort and new friendships.

What was your favorite experience during your GBS learning journey?

A great experience was the specialization module “Design Sprint” that takes place at TLGG Consulting in Berlin. In the training facilities of TLGG we learned hands-on about an effective and efficient way to develop as well as prototype new product- and service ideas in a short amount of time and test them with real users. We learned the frameworks of Design Sprint and I was marveled on how our team was able to transform an idea into a tangible prototype, which was validated with potential customers in only four days. Overall, it was a spectacular event, where besides learning we had a great time and bonded more as a cohort. Through the knowledge we gained during the MBA program and the introduction of available tools, I was able to work more on my idea to found a startup in Frankfurt. So, you can say the learning journey for me was all in all unique.

As an eCommerce Manager, digital transformation is not a new change process for you, Aldo. What are the three major learning highlights from MBA program you were able to implement into your professional practice?

I would say that the first highlight for me was the ability to derive the “why” out of digital transformation in the automotive aftermarket: I feel much more convinced and confident now on driving it with our customers and my co-workers. The second highlight are agile skills, which prompted a paradigm shift for my personal and work-life: For example, in the current quarter I would not have reached my objectives because before knowing them I would have favored a ‘customer contract’ over ‘customer collaboration’. The last highlight are storytelling skills. I recall that before starting the program, I struggled on defining a ‘red thread’ for my presentations and making them entertaining. However, thanks to the tools learned and the group projects we worked on during the MBA, most of my presentations now end with a positive impact towards the goals defined.

You mentioned building your own start-up in Frankfurt - could you tell us more about it? What motivated you to pursue this idea?

At this stage, the start-up is more like a wish. However, my plan is to explore and validate the business idea through my master thesis. However, what motivated me to pursue this idea and work it into my thesis is a memory of my father’s company. Many great small- and medium-sized companies out there are struggling to undergo a digital transformation for their business. The way I see it, though, is unless they get support to do it, they will cease to exist soon. For example, the company of my father realized their main revenues from print advertisements. However, as Google and Facebook stepped into the market his customers reduced their investment in his company. I am sure that if my father had caught the wave of digitalization instead of fighting it, his company would have soared, and the community would have continued to benefit from the jobs the company was creating. Therefore, the main purpose of my future endeavor is to, on one hand, help people understand why they need to digitally transform their businesses. And on the other, deliver them a product to let them remain globally competitive for our communities.

So how has the MBA program supported this wish of yours?

The MBA program has opened three main gates to me to reach my dreams:

  1. First, the program has allowed me to bring the idea into paper. On one side, during the “Digital Business Models and Architectures” Module, I was able to describe the business idea to my team. They all liked it and together we developed and pitched the business model to our professor and our cohort. It was a great experience to bring an idea to paper, develop it further with my teammates and get feedback on how to improve if further.
  2. Second, it has introduced me frameworks, methods, and tools to develop further the business idea and validate it in the market.
  3. And last, it has given me access to potential mentors for its implementation. During the MBA, we frequently had founders as guests during our lectures or even founders like Sebastian Schaefer or Thomas Funke were our professors.

We wish you all the best for your future endeavors and good luck with your master thesis! We’re looking forward to hearing from your success story after you’ve graduated!