Feb 13, 2024

From Aspirant to VP: The Global MBA Journey

Pooja Gerera, GMP, Batch 5 (2014-15)  

I had a fascination for computers! At the same time, I realised that the IT industry provided a very stable career. I also observed people from good families exploring this field, which is how I wound up pursuing the same. Being good at studies gave me an advantage as I could score well and get into a university of my choice, which is usually a dream for others. I pursued Information Technology and graduated from Thadomal Shahani Engineering College, Mumbai University. Post my graduation, I worked with Infosys in Pune and Australia.

I worked with Infosys for 4 years and developed a keen interest in how business is done. The idea of collaborating with different stakeholders intrigued me. Since I was a programmer, I felt confined working in the IT domain. Working in management, however, provided me the opportunity to explore the business and strategy domains. I dreamt of becoming the CEO one day, and it was working in management that could take me closer to achieving my goal.

And the hunt began…

That is when I began exploring and studying all the top B-schools in India and overseas, like any other management aspirant. I expected a few things from the B-school – 1. It had to be one of the top B-schools, 2. Although I had worked in Australia, I knew the opportunities the world could offer, and hence, I wanted to gain more international exposure as part of the B-school curriculum.

While hunting for the perfect B-school, I began exploring the Global Management Programme offered by S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, one of the top B-schools in India. The GMP programme collaborates with renowned management institutions in Europe, UK, and the USA to provide comprehensive international MBA programmes. Students initiate their studies with a 6-month semester at SPJIMR and subsequently transition to partner schools in Europe, the UK and the US, to complete their Global MBA/MS degrees. GMP provides its graduates with a “Dual Alumni Status” of belonging to SPJIMR, as well as the international partner school alumni network, providing me eligibility to work both in India, as well as overseas. I found these programme highlights extremely attractive!

In the pursuit of International MBA


To my surprise, the admission process for SPJIMR was rather straightforward, being one of the most renowned B-schools in the country. The first 6 months at SPJIMR were exciting and chaotic at the same time. There was a lot to cover in terms of the curriculum. The faculty was focused on preparing for the life of independence and the responsibility that came with it. They made sure that we had a lot on our plate, all the time, which in hindsight, I feel was very wise as it taught us crucial skills such as time management, resource management, and people management, that were helpful when we went overseas.

Germany stood out!

Germany was perfect in terms of job opportunities, had a robust economy, it is one of the biggest European markets where the opportunities were much higher as compared to the other countries. The overall culture, cost of living, and the principles that the Germans lived by drew me to the country!

The “WHY” behind my choice.

I was financing my own education, so the fee was a constraint. There were a few very important factors that influenced my choice – a. ESB Business School offered a great price for the course. B. it is one of the top B-schools in Germany, c. it offered the General Management programme that I was looking for d. Their industry connect is very strong.

It was a great decision!

Exposure led to personality development

Life at ESB was an experience in itself. Sitting in a classroom with 40 different nationalities, and stellar faculty who are renowned consultants in the industry, is quite the experience. The sprawling campus in the lap of nature is breathtaking. I even had the freedom to drive around, and travel to different countries. The support system is terrific, the team helped me secure an internship with Airbus Helicopters, in Bavaria. The experience of visiting this campus was a dream come true! I made great friends there, including one who is my best friend, today. Airbus was one of the remote campuses, which required me to live with an old German couple. They did not speak English, so, since I was young, and a quick learner, I was expected to learn the local language in order to communicate with them properly… That’s obnoxious, I thought, initially, however, now, in retrospect, I am glad they expected me to do it. I made German friends and learnt their language. The pressure got me to develop my language skills faster, which only benefited me, in the long term. I became extremely independent very fast and managed to integrate myself into their society. This gave me a whole new level of confidence, that I could conquer whatever I set my mind to.

I had not even finished my internship when I landed my first job in Germany. In fact, despite the language barrier, all my batchmates found high-paying jobs within 4-6 months, and settled well, which is commendable! And they are all currently in the top 10 percentile of salaries.


I was juggling between my internship, and wrapping up my thesis when I started with my full-time job. I even got married in between this chaos. I met my husband at Infosys, Australia, who moved to Germany when I had just started interning. It was he who got a job at Zooplus, introduced me to the management, and BOOM!! I landed an offer too, in the same company. To date, we both are working for Zooplus, in fact, our dog is also a Zooplus customer!

I have been a part of the transformation, and the executive team. I also very strongly feel that my career serves as a success story to have begun as a professional, grew into roles, and eventually became a very important member of the top management team. I am currently the Vice President Strategic Pricing and Central Sales at Zooplus! I get to work with some of the smartest people in the world in private equity, I get to be on the board for one of the largest companies in Europe, and I get to witness the board meetings – a privilege not very many people of my age get.

The cultural difference – India, Australia & Germany


I have studied in India and Germany. The approach to education is very different.

You are mollycoddled a lot in India, in every way. The teachers and professors are the driving force. Parents and teachers both are chasing you and feeding you with information and knowledge, hoping you make something good out of it. Teachers in India are constantly reminding you about the pending assignments, their deadlines, and attendance issues. There is a lot of handholding, and spoon feeding in the way education is delivered.

In Germany on the other hand, you are on your own. You are responsible for yourself. No one will chase you to complete your assignments, or sit and attend lectures, seminars, and webinars. It’s as simple as – YOU need education, so YOU put in effort. You are 100% responsible for connecting and networking with the professors, even getting people to help you get an internship. They basically want the students to hustle. This leads to the degree of independence, and a strong sense of responsibility, the independent decision-making that the Germans have, which is lacking in the Indian students, who are hyper-dependent on their parents and teachers.

Work culture

Coming to the difference in the work culture of all three countries – India, Australia, and Germany, there is again a vast difference.

In India, there are absolutely no boundaries! Asking for a day off felt like committing a crime, that required a lot of justification.

Australia was comparatively better in terms of the work-life-balance, and people respecting boundaries around holidays. However, it is still influenced a lot by America, I would carry my laptop around even on vacations.

The work-life balance in Germany is unmatchable! If you’re on leave – sick, casual, or on vacation, nobody expects you to work or even answer emails, which is so healthy! It is very rare to receive emails or work calls, even on weekends unless there is an emergency or something extremely urgent, otherwise none bothers you.
Even in terms of job security, it needs to be an extremely difficult situation to get fired from a German company. It is extremely employee-friendly. You can even opt for part-time jobs because, by law, professionals can not be denied that. They offer the longest paid maternity leave in the world.

Social life

India has a very open culture where everyone talks to everyone. It is normal to strike up a conversation with a random person on the train. The neighbours are friendly, everybody around knows you, your parents, your grandparents. It is extremely easy to mingle with people here.

The Western culture is just very different. In Australia and even Germany, although there is no racism, the culture is very reserved and people don’t warm up, and open up very easily. The culture is such that even the neighbours are not always familiar with each other. They prefer to keep to themselves. Having said that, it would be crystal clear to you that your social life is definitely going to get compromised. You will make friends over a period of time, but it will take a while, a lot of patience, and a lot of effort on your part.

My two cents

If you are a management aspirant looking for international exposure, consider GMP a NO-BRAINER!! It is a gateway to an international experience in Europe, the U.K., and the.U.S, which otherwise becomes extremely expensive if you go via the classic route of getting admission straight into a foreign university.

This programme also offers the “Dual Alumni Status”, a very strong fallback option, in case you decide to work in a foreign country for a while and return to India. SPJIMR is extremely well-known and has a strong certification making you eligible to work in India, as well.

AppLy Now