Alumni Stories - Erika Gouveia, Durham University Business School ‘17

Green energy

Erika GouveiaErika Gouveia is the energy and green finance program manager at Foreign and Commonwealth Office, located in Brazil, and helps apply the British government’s prosperity fund for energy and green finance, in Brazil. She is originally from Rio de Janeiro and completed her MBA at Durham University Business School, England, in 2017.


We caught up with her to find out about her MBA experience and how it has benefited her career.

What made you decide to pursue an MBA?

The MBA was important to further my career in terms of seniority and to broaden the scope of potential work. And in my case, to help me specifically explore the whole energy sector, not just oil and gas.

What did you elect Durham as the institution to attend?

I chose Durham University Business School (DUBS) after doing a vast amount of research. I found that the DUBS MBA had an excellent reputation, great value and a program design which suited many of my interests - for example international business trips, leadership classes and many optional routes. In addition, my choice was also driven by the excellence and reputation of Durham’s Energy Institute.

Can you tell us a bit about the scholarship you received?

I was awarded two scholarships: the Chevening scholarship, which is awarded by the UK Government to future international leaders offering them the chance to study in the UK, and a DUBS scholarship. Both of these were offered after my professional experience and personal profile (leadership skills, career desires and teamwork competences) were evaluated.

What was the best or most unexpected part of your degree experience?

The most unexpected and the best experience was to learn on a course with such diversity. The DUBS MBA attracts people from so many different backgrounds, both in terms of industry sector and cultural origins. Despite the fact that I had already worked in an international company (Shell), with many diverse people across the globe, I was surprised at how much I learned by being in the same class every day, with more than 50 people from different backgrounds, discussing a huge variety of topics - from finance to leadership, strategy to international business. 

What skills do you think you have gained from the course?

I believe the most important skills taught by the MBA are: patience, the ability to put yourself in others shoes, leadership and strategic and management skills which can be applied in any type of business.

You worked for Shell for over a decade, what made you decide on a career within the energy sector? And what drove you to a career in green energy after your MBA course?

The reason I like the energy sector so much is because it brings together both technology and people. I believe the energy sector is in a real transition period at the moment, and I want to be part of this transformation by contributing my skills, to achieve a smooth and sustainable energy era for the future. I want this to be my legacy to the world.

How do you feel your specific MBA course has helped your career?

My career has really upgraded after achieving my MBA from DUBS, mainly because of the leadership and strategic skills, and values, that I developed during the course. It has certainly enhanced my CV and has exposed me to a wider and more global market of opportunities. I now have friends all around the world and my network has expanded massively.

In what way have others around you (e.g. managers/colleagues/new business partners) benefited from your degree experience?

I loved working in groups, offering my skills to a variety of projects and I was often recognised as “energy girl” because of my love for the subject, and the fact I am always talking about it. My knowledge and my personal experiences in the sector are now coupled with the practical business skills I developed at DUBS - which I think are benefiting me and others every day.


What sacrifices did you have to make personally or professionally in order to embark on your degree?

I don’t like to use the word sacrifice. I believe that you have to invest and work hard and then wait for the fruits to come at the appropriate moments. Professionally it was a hard decision to leave a company which I liked so much and also to be out of the working market for a year. Personally, it was a challenge to move across the world, and especially to adapt to live in a smaller city far away from my family and friends. However, in the final balance, I believe I learned so much more than I missed out on. I’ve become a better professional and person too.

The admissions process can be quite a daunting experience. What would be your top tips for candidates to excel in the admissions process of this degree?

  • Be honest with yourself when filling out the papers and demonstrate your real weaknesses and strengths - there is no perfection
  • Ask someone to review your application before submitting - sometimes what you want to say doesn’t come across as well as you may have thought
  • Use the internet to talk with people who have studied at the university before, to get their personal opinion on any questions you have 
  • If it is possible, go for an open day and visit the place you may study and live
  • If it is possible, ask for a face to face interview - it will give you a real feeling about potential of the MBA experience and what it can give you
  • If you don’t succeed in an application, keep trying again
Amelia Hopkins
Written by Amelia Hopkins

Amelia Hopkins is a writer for TopMBA, covering the latest news in business and business education. A graduate of the University of Leeds and Yorkshire native, she enjoys reading, travelling and talking incessantly about the countryside.

0 Comments
Log in from the top right-hand corner or click here to register to post comments