Sergio Mendes, MBA '06
Sergio Mendes, more than most, understands what it means to have a full schedule: “I was working full-time, and taking three or four classes each semester,” he says, referring to his time studying at Southern. A first-generation college student, he commuted daily between home, work, and Southern’s campus for the three years of his MBA program.
While his determination and work ethic make him seem like a natural for business, Sergio was more interested in a different field growing up. “I loved taking things apart,” he says, adding, with a laugh, “not so much putting them back together again. But I loved taking them apart, seeing how things worked.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Sacred Heart University, working in IT before starting at Southern. He had the opportunities to work and understand different functions and departments within his workplaces, and became interested in business and finance through those experiences.
Southern provided me with a great foundation and understanding of what to expect in different functions in the business world, this understanding helped me become better at problem solving and decision making in the workplace.
Now, Sergio works at Pernod-Ricaurd USA, as a Director of Finance for the Continental Division. The company, “Creators of Convivialité,” as their motto goes, produces and distributes wine and spirits globally. With headquarters in Paris, the company has branches around the world, producing such brands as Absolut, Jameson, Glenlivet, Seagram’s, and Perrier-Jouët. As a Director of Finance, Sergio’s responsibilities include supporting the general manager of sales, overseeing budgets, developing financial planning, and working on the company’s annual financial plan.
Throughout his education and career, Sergio understands and appreciates the way everything connects, how things work together. “There’s not a specific job I can remember as being my favorite,” he says. Rather, each job, each class project, each experience in and out of the business world has built up an understanding and appreciation of the interconnectedness of things. From this collection of experiences and opportunities, Sergio has developed a list of four pieces of advice: “1. Everyone makes mistakes; learn from them, 2. Be open to learning, even outside of your career’s focus, 3. Thank those that have helped you, and 4. Focus on improving your strengths.” He’s happy to share this advice with colleagues and new-hires, but also holds them as a standard for himself.