A dynamic, resourceful professional with a broad range of experience in the financial private sector, Josefina Bengoechea’s enthusiasm for getting the most out of students at EU is remarkable. The EU Communications team recently got the opportunity to catch up with Josefina, where we found out more about her views on academia, her achievements and her advice to students.
My key strength is being passionate about what I do. I have been fortunate to do in life something that I really enjoy in a fantastic university. Being a lecturer is a process of first understanding yourself, building competencies and adding value to students. It requires constant self-examination, hard work and building relationships with others. It takes character leadership and an ownership mindset. Like staying in shape, it is a constant process.
2. You have a lot of teaching experience – what is the biggest lesson you have learned through your teaching experience?
The biggest lesson that I have learned is that the teacher of the future does not teach. It might probably sound strange: how can an effective lecturer teach without teaching? My experience is that good lecturers care about students, know the content and know how to explain it.
All of this is good, but great lecturers engineer learning experiences that maneuver the students into a Porsche driver’s seat, and then the lecturer gets out of the way. Students learn best by personally experiencing learning that is physical, emotional, intellectual and even spiritual.
3. You are very generous in mobilizing your own personal network to provide guest lectures for students – how important do you think these sessions are?
Guest speakers are a very important part of any of my courses. Arranging to have someone speak to my class is often more work than preparing a class myself. Why do I do it? A guest speaker conveys current, realistic information and a perspective on a subject that is not available from any textbook, providing students a feel of the real world. I encourage guest speakers to talk from personal experience, so that they are able to communicate their passion for their work in a way that excites and motivates the students.
4. What qualities do you think are key to succeeding as a finance and/or management student?
In my experience, finance and management students learn best when they are in control of their learning. They must do the heavy lifting of learning and nothing the lecturer can say or do will change that. Real learning requires doing, not listening or observing only. In order to succeed as a finance and/or management student, strong effort and attitude is required. It’s a simple formula; “when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.” They are the future leaders of this world; they should be up to the challenge.
5. What aspect of the courses you teach do you think students enjoy the most?
Most probably the enthusiasm I put in every class to make it fun, providing them with examples and real cases that I have lived through my entire extensive professional experience. My teaching is not only about content, it is also about making the students learn something about themselves and to question the current world. I try to teach them beyond the obvious, providing them with the tools that will enable them to be objective, thoughtful and careful in whatever they decide to do next.
6. What do you see as the main benefits of studying in Switzerland?
The main benefits of studying in Switzerland are not only its majestic surroundings and the good quality of life, but also Switzerland is one of the most fantastic countries to study, with not one, but four native languages including French, German, Italian and Romansh. Switzerland offers multilingualism like no other. Students have the opportunity to hone current language skills or learn something completely new in a multicultural environment. Moreover, Switzerland is home to some of the world’s best companies, international organizations and best-ranked academic institutions, like EU Business School. Students who come to study at EU Business School certainly have a strong competitive advantage compared to their peers.
7. What’s your claim to fame?
When I was working as an executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch I volunteered each Sunday to teach pregnant women at risk of social exclusion for a Spanish NGO. I did that every Sunday for six years. I have extraordinary stories from these fabulous women, not only about their lives but also about their attitude and courage. I still remember the day I went to class and one of them went into labor. I stopped the class and took her to the hospital in my car. I was made Godmother of honor by the NGO Board of Trustees in 2010 and appeared in the Spanish press. I learned great lessons teaching people that have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle and have found their way out of the depths. They have an appreciation and sensitivity for life that is inspirational.
8. Who is your hero?
I have a lot of heroes. To name a few; my husband, my kids, my parents, my family and my friends. In a sense, everyone that gets up every day with the aim of making a difference in this world. Those are true heroes and the gifts I hold in my heart.