The purpose of CEMS is to forge a global mindset within emerging business leaders. The result of these efforts is a graduate that is equipped with the knowledge, values, connections, and most importantly, the global mindset needed to lead — ensuring our constantly changing world changes for the better.
In this series of interviews, we celebrate the incredible accomplishments and successes of CEMS alumni that are contributing to make this world a more open, sustainable and inclusive world. The CEMS Alumni of the Year is a joint campaign by the CAA in close collaboration with the CEMS Student Board, which gives the CEMS community the opportunity to learn about CEMS alumni and vote for your favorite candidate as the CEMS Alumni of the Year.
Christian Cirino, CEMS Alumnus of the Quarter 2014, is the Chief Financial Officer China -CNH Industrial He graduated from the CEMS MIM programme in 2000, studying at the Louvain School of Management and the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
1. Do you have any memories from your time with CEMS that you would like to share?
The CEMS Master has been my first real international experience. Beyond the strong academic added value, I have built strong relationships with some fellows students. I spent six unforgettable months in Milan and 14 years after we are still in contact. This kind of friendship never ends, even if we do not meet often enough.
2. What was the most important thing that CEMS taught you?
If I had to choose one thing, I would definitely say the openness. Openness to the others and openness to the world. I believe CEMS people have this in common in their DNA. The large majority of people I have met during the Master were curious to discover new horizons, new cultures, and were not afraid to take over unknown challenges.
When I graduated in 2000, the CEMS was a European Master. I am proud to see that today it is a worldwide program, with Institutions from everywhere. The CEMS took the right direction.
3. What were your career steps after finishing CEMS?
Right after the graduation I spent a couple of months in the investment banking sector in London - a great experience within the Corporate Finance division of UBS Warburg. Working in the City had always been one of my dreams. After this first experience abroad I worked as Controller with Danone in Belgium. An amazing company with true values where I met incredible people (among others some CEMS fellows…).
After 5 years, my willingness to keep on discovering other realities led me to join the Fiat Group (CNH) in Paris, as Controlling Director for Europe. I have been working with the Group (nowadays called CNHI) for the last 7 years, and lived in 3 countries: France, Switzerland and now China. I am very glad to be the CFO for the Group’s activities in China since 1 year. Another amazing experience.
4. What is the accomplishment in your career you are most proud of?
Well, it is difficult to say. I would rather say I am proud of having grown while succeeding in building a wonderful family and preserving an acceptable balance. I am lucky to have such a family. One cannot grow and keep on moving around the world without these strong links. Our children (9 and 10 years old) are growing in an international environment, and it is amazing to see how they adapt to any kind of culture. Today they are already fluent in French, Italian and English. Now they are starting Mandarin.
From a pure professional perspective, I would be proud to know that I somehow inspired some colleagues to go beyond their limit while staying aligned with their life principles. It is essential to grow, but it is of utmost importance to be able to give something back to others.
5. What advice would you give current CEMS students?
The CEMS Master is a springboard for the future. Investing in such a program is a great opportunity to prepare solid foundations. The return on investment is impressive. The rest is a matter of choices and hard work.
I am convinced it is important to keep on learning and having ambitious projects, no matter if they are personal of professional. I enrolled three years ago in an Executive MBA program with HEC Paris. Going back to school while working has been quite ambitious but it has been an exceptional experience.
I also decided two years ago to start learning guitar. Knowing my low level of artistic DNA, this has probably been one of my biggest challenges of the last decade. Finally, in order not to stay too much behind my family, I started Mandarin lessons 1 month ago.