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Elizabeth Valencia Berrio

elizabeth_berrio

Colombia
ITM Graduate 2016-2017

 

"The WMG connection is already opening doors”  


Before coming to WMG in 2016, Elizabeth Berrio had built a successful career as a telecommunications engineer and project manager in Colombia. She was working for Suramericana SA, a major insurance and investment provider, as a Technology Infrastructure Analyst when her career took a new direction.

“Just a year after starting with the company it changed its focus towards innovation and set up a whole new department,” she explained. “It’s an area that had always interested me so I applied to be part of it and was offered a job as an Innovation Ecosystem Analyst. That involved identifying potential innovation projects within the business, driving interaction in the innovation ecosystem and leading the technology surveillance team.”

We asked Elizabeth why, at this point in her career, did she decide to take a year out to study? And why choose WMG? “I loved what I was doing,” she said. “It was like my dream job, but I felt that I needed to take a step back from my day-to-day work and broaden my knowledge and skills. I wanted to travel again and it seemed the perfect time to do it. Luckily, my employer let me have the year away and return to the innovation team afterwards.

“When I researched courses, WMG’s masters in International Technology Management jumped out at me. The way it connects the two worlds of innovation and technology reflects my role at Suramericana, my interests and my professional aspirations. So I didn’t delay in applying!”

Creating the knowledge yourself

Once on her course, Elizabeth quickly realised that the style of learning is completely different from anything she had experienced before. “The focus isn’t on receiving and absorbing knowledge, but instead you create that knowledge yourself. The emphasis on research is key to that. You’re constantly reading papers, exploring new areas, investigating current thinking and solving problems. It’s so different to sitting through lectures and taking exams. It’s like two completely different worlds. At WMG, you are given the tools you need and then invited to go out there and create.”

What does Elizabeth feel are the benefits of this? “You don’t just learn, you truly understand,” she said. “There’s a subtle but very important difference. The information goes a lot deeper and you appreciate the theory and concepts that underpin it. This lets you see how those concepts can be used in practice. Other elements of the course were valuable in this too – like the opportunity to interact with industry experts, company visits and the simulations that let us use what we’d learned to solve real business problems.”

Creating a digitisation pathway

For her dissertation project, Elizabeth used her professional experience to shape her research. “Business in changing across the globe,” she said. “But big companies, particularly those in areas like insurance, pensions and banking, can be very traditional. They’ve always used the same processes and although technology is pushing the business in a new direction, they find it difficult to change. I’m designing a framework to help organisations phase that change through a clear digitisation pathway. As part of that, I have created a website and will be presenting the results at a series of meetings.”

Elizabeth plans to bring this to her company when she returns to Colombia, using the tool to help it harness innovation and new technologies to shape improved processes throughout the business. “I’ll be going back with a completely fresh outlook and new perspective,” she said. “I’ve loved my year at Warwick but now it’s time to go and put it all to work. That’s really exciting.”

Before we finished, Elizabeth mentioned a message she received on LinkedIn just the day before. “It was from a headhunter in London who has a role for a Director of Innovation that they thought I might be interested in. They had noticed the fact that I’m a student at WMG on my profile. That’s amazing – just having the WMG connection there is already opening doors.”