From LIS Graduate to Agency Co-Founder: Mauro Battellini

Can you share your journey since graduating from LIS?

Sounds incredible to say it, but I graduated almost 15 years ago, in 2008. A lot has happened since then. I moved to Bristol in the UK for my International Relations BA, and immediately after that I spent a year in Amsterdam for a Masters in European Politics. After that, I moved back to the UK. This time to London, for work.

There, I quickly got a job at a market research firm as a Research Analyst. Every 7 to 12 months I moved positions within the company and across departments. I eventually became the Inside Sales Manager for EMEA before once again switching over to marketing to lead the newly formed ecommerce team.

In 2018, I ditched the suit and the rat race for a hoodie and the chance to build something of my own. I joined forces with the founder of startup-focused PR agency Black Unicorn PR, Julija Jegorova, as a co-founder. Julija had been working in PR for a decade as an in-house PR for TomTom, GMR Marketing and head of PR for a London startup. She had the depth of expertise in PR and I brought a wider range of sales, marketing and operational experiences to the table. She had only formed the company a few months earlier and I had grown frustrated with some aspects of corporate life. I was hungry for freedom to try things and move fast, and a proper chance to test the limits of my potential.

How did your education at LIS influence your career path or further studies?

My time at LIS laid the foundations for that journey. The IB diploma is internationally oriented and gives you direct access to UK universities. The essays, presentations and projects with a high degree of freedom are good preparation for tertiary education in the American or British style, where university is not just a set of lessons and tests, but also a place where your activities outside of the curriculum, networking and creativity can have a massive impact on your future opportunities. LIS gave me the freedom to choose from a wider range of options and therefore experiences. I could have gone back home to Argentina, stayed in Germany or tried something new, and LIS allowed me to choose.

What achievements or milestones are you most proud of since leaving LIS?

Difficult to say. I think at the end of the day the best milestones are related to helping other people. I’m happy to have led a sales team full of young guys starting out in London, training many of them and helping get their first commissions and decent salaries. Now, with Black Unicorn PR, I enjoy working with tech startup founders from across the world trying to change the world. As well as our remote but tight-knit team from the UK, Germany, South Africa, Ukraine, the US and beyond.

How did the values and education at LIS shape your personal and professional life?

For sure I feel like I became a ‘citizen of the world’ and I think you can see it reflected in the previous answers. But also, in Leipzig, despite not going to a German school, LIS helped me learn German extremely well within about a year, and integrate into the local community. In fact, locals would not immediately think I was necessarily foreign. Since then I found it easy to feel at home in many places, and understand and respect different cultures and viewpoints.

Can you recall a specific moment or teacher at LIS that had a significant impact on you?

For sure, and I would like to take the opportunity to mention some names. Miss Eels, who always pushed students to be their best possible selves. Madame Bousson – even though I stopped after IGCSEs, my French is still very decent and comes in handy a lot. Mr Hampton, who always made time to talk about football between lessons (Manchester United and England’s time will come, I’m sure!) And our sports teacher Mr Reinhardt, who went out of his way to arrange after-school football and sports activities, back in the day when LIS was smaller and did not count with the facilities or participate in national competitions as it does today.

How do you stay connected with the LIS community today?

Unfortunately as I and many of my former classmates have moved out of Leipzig and Germany, it’s been difficult to do so. We graduated before social media and WhatsApp became so extremely popular, and so after some years we got out of touch with most. The first iPhone hadn’t even launched yet!

Do you have any suggestions for enhancing the alumni network and engagement?

I would encourage the school to keep track of graduates with their emails and professional contact details, like LinkedIn, or engage them through a community platform like Slack. As well as some kind of reunion activities. Of course, those are always more difficult with graduates from international schools. If any of my classmates read this, I would love to connect.

I would also suggest to keep sharing stories from alumni to help create reference points for some of the guys that are about to graduate. There is probably a range of professionals and entrepreneurs, each with their lessons learned and tips for life after (and during) LIS.

Get in touch with Mauro on LinkedIn:

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