HEC Executive MBA alum Henrique Sigolo went from classic finance at General Electric to running FP&A for Amazon Brazil.

How my Executive MBA Helps Me Run Amazon’s Financial Planning in Brazil

An HEC Paris Executive MBA helped him make the career switch from the cobblestone jungle in Paris to running Amazon Brazil’s Financial Planning and Analysis– and has come in handy every day since.

“I already had a pretty great role,” Henrique Sigolo says of his career before beginning his Executive MBA at HEC Paris.  “So, if my next step was going to be going back to school, I was really only considering the top programs.”

And given his CV alone, Henrique would make a lot of sense as a participant at one of Europe’s top programs. After all, the 2020 program graduate  has a sterling, lengthy track record at the head of decisive regional positions and billion-dollar business units for prominent global firms.

He began his Executive MBA journey as CFO of Blade Services at GE Renewable Energy, a position that included full Profit and Loss (P&L) responsibilities for a $100-million global organization with 400-plus field technicians spread across the world.

With a such a glittering professional resumé, why, then, is it still a little strange that Henrique counts himself among the alumni body of the Executive MBA at HEC Paris?

“I was 29 when I joined.”

Breaking the Mold

The average participant’s age for the Executive MBA at HEC Paris is 40 –it was 42 in Henrique’s cohort. It is highly unusual for candidates as young as Henrique to be considered – and much more so that they are accepted. What matters in the selection process is, of course, years of experience in high-stakes, highly consequential managerial roles, which Henrique had in spades.

“While the others in my cohort had incredible careers, my own experience – despite my age – was comparable in terms of locations, broadness, and responsibilities.”

One might also wonder why he didn’t just choose to do a full-time MBA program.

“I didn’t think I could,” he says of the prospect of devoting himself to a full-time MBA, in the process putting his job – and his household-sustaining salary – on pause. “That’s why I never chose an MBA. It wasn’t until after I joined that I found out about scholarships and financing options.”

Leaning into the EMBA

A period of self-doubt led him to briefly consider a switch to the full-time MBA just after beginning his Executive MBA, but he had a moment of clarity that became evident soon after he walked into his first EMBA class.

“The quality of my cohort-mates, in terms of experience and moment in their careers, was so much further ahead than full-time MBAs,” he says. “I started going to job fairs for full-time MBAs — talking to people and seeing what jobs were on offer — and I realized that those candidates were in different career stages than I was. Even though I was as young as them, the jobs on offer would’ve been a career step back for me.”

Before making a final decision, he approached his still-new EMBA cohort-mates for counsel. After weighing his options, he stayed in the EMBA.

“I think it paid off,” he says

His experience traversing the globe while hurdling the steps of the corporate ladder at GE had hardly been monochrome. Still, he found himself in deliberately unfamiliar professional waters as the EMBA began.

“The program does a very good job of making sure you don’t interact with too many people from the same country or professional background as you. I was never working with other CFOs, and never with someone from GE. It forces you to step into the unknown.”

Ultimately, stepping into the unknown at HEC Paris would lead the Brazilian wunderkind to Amazon, and after years overseas, home.

“The program does a very good job of making sure you don’t interact with too many people from the same country or professional background as you. I was never working with other CFOs, and never with someone from GE. It forces you to step into the unknown.”

New Faces, Familiar Places

“I got in touch with some HEC alumni at Amazon. I got their feedback and mentorship in applying for a role that would amount to a complete shift from the world of traditional industry at GE to the tech world at Amazon.”

He got the job.

“It was a different mindset, a change of priorities – even within finance. At GE, we looked more into the numbers and the books, and worked very little with business partners. But at Amazon, my day to day is much more about making the business grow and be more profitable. It was a big change but adapting to that change was smooth, thanks in part to my time at the EMBA.”

Today, Henrique holds the gaudy title of Head of Financial Planning and Analysis – Brazil Consumer at Amazon, thanks to his enormous reserves of talent and skill, and to his time at HEC Paris. He remains steadfast in the choices he made during his EMBA journey.

“Before I did my EMBA, I put way too much pressure on myself. If I ever push myself too hard, I think back to my cohort-mates always telling me it was okay, that I could relax a little,” he says. “I 100 percent recommend an EMBA – it’s really a decisive point in your career.”

More CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies have graduated from HEC Paris than any other university in Europe, and nearly 4,000 graduates are currently CEOs, CFOs, or have founded their own companies. According to the Financial Times, the HEC Paris Executive MBA is ranked #1 in Europe and #3 in the world; click here to learn more about this world-class program.