Josefina moved from her home in Argentina, South America, to Sydney, Australia, in December 2017 with her husband, Santiago. The two were looking for fresh challenges and fresh waves to surf. But Josefina found more than this after their international move: a growing interest in food sustainability.

“By 2050, global population is expected to hit 10 billion,” Josefina says. “It’s impossible to feed that many people using our existing food system, especially with our current rate of meat consumption.”

Today, Josefina does her part to tackle this challenge as a Market Development Manager at v2Food – a food technology company specialising in developing plant-based meat products that look, cook and taste just like traditional animal meat.

“We’re trying to offer a product that lets people continue eating what they like in a way that’s more sustainable. If we can educate consumers and help them understand the importance of reducing meat consumption with good, viable choices like v2Food, we can have a real impact on the world,” she says.

Josefina didn’t move to Australia planning to pivot to sustainable consumer goods. But the lessons she learned while completing her AGSM @ UNSW Business School MBA – and the school’s alumni and industry networks – changed her career perspective and helped her land the job of her dreams.

Riding the wave of change

Back home in Argentina, Josefina loved her job at Cervecería y Maltería Quilmes, an alcohol company which is part of the AbInBev family. But it was time for something new.

“Moving to Australia was a real turning point for me,” she says. “I’d had my big FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) experience, and I wanted to do something different in a smaller start-up environment. I wanted to get my hands on a lot of different aspects of a business and see it from a different perspective.”

However, all of Josefina’s professional experience had been in marketing. While she grasped some of the theoretical aspects of finance and accounting, she knew she needed to return to the classroom to get a broader understanding of how businesses operated.

So, Josefina decided to complete an MBA to gain the practical tools in finance and general management she needed to open new career pathways.

Josefina’s sister’s brother-in-law recommended AGSM @ UNSW Business School, as he was currently studying his MBA through AGSM and explained how it was one of the best ranked MBAs in Australia. He took Josefina on a campus tour and introduced her to the admissions team who provided more information about the different MBA options available.

Later when Josefina was doing completing her own research about different MBA program in Australia, it was AGSM’s focus on entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship and that inspired her to enrol into the AGSM Full-Time MBA in 2019.

A convenient coincidence

Josefina says her interest in sustainability came from her husband, who addresses environmental issues through his job at an electric bike company.

“Santiago was always pushing us to be more sustainable, always sending me articles and making sure we were composting and recycling everything we could,” she says. “He dragged me along at first, but eventually I started to understand just how serious our environmental problems are.”

During the first year of her AGSM MBA, Josefina read an article about plant-based meat products. She was intrigued and thought a start-up working in this space would be a perfect fit for her.

That same day, a venture capital partner came to speak to Josefina’s class. He mentioned his firm’s investment in v2Food. Josefina was stunned.

“I couldn’t believe it” she says. “I thought, ‘this is it!’ as I had been looking for a start-up working on plant-based meat that very same morning.”

But the VC partner left before Josefina could meet him one-on-one. So, she asked her professor, Stephane Chatonsky, if he could contact the VC partner about any opportunities at v2Food that she could get involved in.

Josefina gave her CV to Stefan to pass on and, eventually, it landed on the desk of Andrew May at v2Food.

The company wasn’t looking to fill any roles at the time, but Andrew invited Josefina to come and have a chat. By the end of their talk, Josefina was v2Food’s newest marketing intern. She joined the company in December 2019, working part-time while she finished her MBA.

Josefina did a bit of everything – from cutting out packaging for product mock-ups to researching the greater plant-based meat market. She worked there throughout her Term 4 and presented papers about her experience during the “Work Integrated Learning Program” of her MBA.

In April 2020, when she finished her studies, v2Food offered Josefina a full-time position as a Trade Marketing Manager. She’s since expanded her role outside of Australia as a Market Development Manager.

Working at an international scale

Today, Josefina works to help develop the brand in new countries, including China, Japan and Korea. She collaborates with teams in those nations to better understand consumer trends and buying habits. Josefina also helps to determine how v2Food can best adapt its products and brand to align with these preferences – and develops better marketing strategies to go with them.

“I take the best practices from each of the different countries and share them with our teams in other countries so everybody is aware of what’s going on and we can stay consistent,” Josefina says. “That way we can use learnings to not only benefit Australia, or China, but everywhere at once.”

Josefina says she couldn’t have gotten where she is today without the help of her AGSM MBA.

“My AGSM MBA really helped me figure out exactly what I was looking for and gave me a better overall understanding of business and finance acumen,” she says. “It provided me with so many practical tools and frameworks than I leant from my bachelor’s degree alone.

“For example, when developing new products for other countries, I needed to understand the financial implications and the profit-and-loss scenarios of launching those products to make sure they’re commercially viable. I’m able to do this because of what I learned during my MBA finance courses.”

With each launch, Josefina and the v2Food team makes it easier and more attractive for people to eat more plant-based food that’s good for people and the environment. According to v2Food, their products lead to 98% less carbon emissions, and 99% less water and land use than traditional animal-based protein products. 

Taking responsibility

Josefina says the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have a major influence on what v2Food does. The company has identified six SDG where they can make a difference: zero hunger, industry, innovation and infrastructure, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life on land and partnerships for the goals.

“We measure all our efforts against these SDG,” she says. “Everything we do we look at through a lens of sustainability and what we can be doing to work toward these global UN goals.”

The UN’s SDG are an important facet of the AGSM MBA, playing a major part in the program’s focus on responsible management.

Josefina says other organisations around the world committing to these goals and responsible management will be key to tackling environmental challenges.

“Unless all sectors, including consumers, companies and governments, work together, we won’t be able to make the change the earth needs. I think companies play a very important role – every company and every manager should be aligned and working toward those goals.”

And Josefina sees the next generation of AGSM MBA students playing a key part going forward.

“Some MBA students will end up leading big companies around the world,” she says. “If they understand how important responsible management is from an early stage, they can use that power for good.”

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