Cristina Famano isn’t interested in status. Despite holding key positions at the top of global telco companies in her native Brazil, she’s chosen diversity and experience over climbing the ladder. “I have friends who I met in my job ten years ago who are now in very high-ranking positions at the same company,” she says. “But I have a broader experience, and the confidence to tackle different roles. I have the mindset of a general manager rather than a technical specialist. That came about because of the Sloan.”
Soon after completing the programme in 2011, Cristina won the role of Director of Commercial Planning and Devices at Vivo in Brazil. After a year, Apple beckoned, where she took the financial reins as iPhone Controller until 2013. With career expansion, rather than vertical ascendancy as her goal, she then became Director of Marketing for Nextel Brazil before stepping into her current role as Chief Marketing Officer for FS, a leading Latin-American mobile technology company.
Cristina says she has always striven for growth: for her career, and for herself. “I’ve always wanted more knowledge,” she says. “I’ve been lucky that I’ve found growth in my career. On the Sloan, the growth is about yourself. You find out who you are, what you want and how to get it. It’s not easy because what you want is tough to get. But that knowledge makes you focus, and saves you time. I stopped wondering ‘what if’ and put things into action instead. Since the Sloan I’ve taken a more defined path.”
The intensity of the Sloan experience forges lifelong bonds between classmates. Cristina routinely put in 14 to 16 hour days, and relished every minute. “Every second of every day was filled with friends – either studying or socialising – and so you have this connection with people that you can’t find anywhere else,” she says. “We’ve been through the same things. I just caught up with a Sloan friend living in New Jersey and we were chatting as though seven years hadn’t passed.”
Cristina looked at American schools when she was deciding where to study, but she felt that LBS and London would bring a more international perspective. After fifteen years of excellence in her career and two post-graduate diplomas, she wanted to study at leadership level. “On top of being one of the top schools in the world, LBS offered the Sloan – a one-year programme – which fitted in perfectly with my life and ambitions. I also knew the type of conversations I would have and the things I would focus on would suit where I was in my career.”
But in the seven years that have passed, how has the Sloan helped her get to where she is today? “It helped me to know what to do, and to make decisions and take action,” she says. “It was such an intellectually challenging experience but the connections I had with everybody made it fun. I had so much support. That’s given me great confidence. It allowed me to believe that there’s so much more I can do. Sometimes corporate life isn’t clear. I see myself today as someone with an ability to attack challenges, with a much broader perspective. I loved everything about the Sloan.”
Outside of class, Cristina joined almost every club recommended to her. “Drama, public speaking, Brazilian, Latin America. There were very few clubs I didn’t join!” she says. “I want to tell everybody to join as many clubs as you can. For the people, the experience, the skills, they’re fantastic.” In any gaps in her schedule, Cristina was travelling: To Amsterdam, Paris, the US, Scotland, the English countryside and to Brazil for a couple of home visits. Her Sloan group also travelled to Shanghai. “China was incredible,” she says. “It was mindblowing to witness the potential of that country. We visited businesses and factories and got an inside view: something no story can describe. You can only have this kind of experience on the Sloan.”