From CEMS to EY

Elsa Saarela, UK

Consultant, Performance Improvement, UK

Recently we have partnered up with CEMS, a global alliance in management education program. This program gives management students the opportunity to travel and study in different countries around the globe. We sat down with Elsa to discuss her experience with CEMS and how it helped her to get to where she is today.

Tell me more about yourself, your background and your EY journey.

I am from Finland and came to the UK about six years ago to do my undergraduate course at Lancaster University. After that, I moved on to do a Master’s in Management at the London School of Economics (LSE), which was a two-year double Master’s program that included the CEMS (a global alliance in management education program) Master’s in International Management.

I joined EY about a year ago. Since joining, I’ve been on an innovative health care engagement, developing and launching an app into the UK health sector. It’s been a great experience and I’ve enjoyed doing something a bit different from a traditional consultant job.              

Tell me about your time with CEMS. What did they help you achieve?

I did CEMS in 2015, which was during the second year of my Master’s at the LSE. CEMS is essentially a one-year long Master’s in International Management degree. During your CEMS year, you go abroad for one semester and then you do your second semester in your home school.

I did my exchange program at Ivey Business School in Canada. It was a really memorable and enjoyable experience. It was very different from LSE because Ivey Business School is a business school, whereas LSE is a social sciences university. The teaching methods at LSE were very theoretical, whereas my experience at Ivey was much more practical and case study-based. The really exciting thing about CEMS was the other exchange students whom you meet from around the world doing the same program with you. Your classes are very international and you get the opportunity to meet a great variety of people. So, although the learning experience is great, what makes it even more exciting is the people you get to share the experience with.

My second semester back at the LSE was also just as fun. You still have CEMS students doing their exchange programs from other CEMS schools around the world. The whole year is about meeting new people, making new friends, learning new things and creating such a diverse experience for yourself. CEMS gives you the experience of working in diverse teams and learning how to work with different types of people.

Why do you think the CEMS program is unique? 

It is a very unusual exchange program. Every university around the world has some sort of exchange program these days. However, because CEMS is such a worldwide global program, there is more of a community feel (students doing CEMS and alumni are known as CEMSies). CEMS really makes you feel like you aren’t alone, even though you may be quite far away from home.

During and after your CEMS experience, you have access to such an amazing group of people and network. The CEMS corporate partners and all the CEMS events that you can partake in, during and after your CEMS degree, also open up a lot of career opportunities for you. Once you do the CEMS program, you are a CEMSie for life. Even as an alumni, you are always a part of the CEMS group and you stay in touch with the network of people you’ve met throughout your CEMS journey. Doing CEMS opens so many doors for you, which I feel is a very unique opportunity.

What advice would you give to students thinking of applying for a job at EY?

I would definitely encourage them to apply for a job at EY, because of all the global opportunities that EY provides. Coming from a CEMS background and having a Master’s in International Management degree that includes work experience, you are a good fit for a global organization, such as EY. It’s about leveraging this experience throughout your application process. EY looks for people who can be themselves in the workplace and who naturally fit in. So another top tip for a student applying for a job at EY is to be yourself throughout the application process. If you can be your authentic self, then that’s a good start.