How Michael Bielawski leveraged his MBA to switch careers and continents
Michael Bielawski used to be a commercial engineer in the water treatment industry. Now he's working at the world's largest beauty company.
Michael is currently a Strategic Projects Manager at L'Oréal Australia working to transform the company's go-to-market pharmacy channel strategy, a role he secured after undertaking an internship while studying a Full-time MBA at Melbourne Business School.
Moving from infrastructure projects to consumer goods might sound unusual, but for Michael it was made possible by discovering a talent for marketing and strategy in the classroom.
"That surprised me, actually. I ended up liking marketing more than I thought, and it influenced where I wanted to transition my career," he says.
"Understanding consumer behaviours is really interesting and exciting. With a background in engineering, it was something I'd never had much exposure to before."
After six years working as an engineer, Michael decided to study an MBA when he realised his passion at work had drifted from solving technical problems towards larger-scale strategic challenges.
"What I realised over time was that the aspects of my role I was getting the most fulfilment from were expanding beyond technical tasks and required more strategic analysis," he says.
"I was ready to make a career transition, and I knew that in order to do that, I needed to pursue an MBA. Studying an MBA gives you a broad skillset of tools and strategies that you can lean back on when you're approaching complex challenges."
Originally from Canada, Michael chose to study at Melbourne Business School because of the prime location of the School in a world-class city, and the global focus of the program – including the Business in Asia course, taken in Shanghai.
"I was looking not only for international school experience, but also international work experience. There are great career opportunities in Australia, which would allow me to transition careers and make the most of the MBA," he says.
Michael's relationship with L'Oréal began when he undertook an internship with the company during his degree to tackle a real-world business problem. His job now is to implement solutions he identified as an intern.
"The thing I liked about L'Oréal was that they gave us a real project to work on. It was a legitimate business concern with challenging market dynamics," he says.
"I had 10 weeks to analyse the problem, make sense of all the data, and put together a strategy for how we could tackle it. After my internship, I was hired full-time to manage the implementation and execution of my recommendations."
One of Michael's biggest takeaways from his MBA experiencer was a strong network of friends and peers – not surprising, given that Melbourne Business School was recently ranked as one of the top 10 in the world for networking by The Economist.
"Because you have such a small class size, you form very close connections with your classmates," Michael says.
"Melbourne Business School has a really good alumni network that I found incredibly supportive. Everyone I’ve reached out to has been very happy to meet up for a coffee to answer any questions. Some of my closest friends here are alum from different cohorts."