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Eine einmalige Erfahrung

So facettenreich der Mannheim MBA ist, so unterschiedlich sind auch die Erfahrungsberichte unserer Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmer. Doch in einem sind sich alle einig: Es waren prägende zwölf Monate, von denen sie ein Leben lang profitieren werden. 

Testimonials Mannheim Full-Time MBA

“I liked Mannheim Business School’s small, practical, and close-knit cohorts, the integrated knowledge, the interesting and nurturing challenges, and the valuable insights into the German job market. Individual counselling sessions with the career services team helped me understand how human resources departments work with their stakeholders and what their modus operandi is when analyzing candidates. Through this process, I was able to present myself successfully in my applications and job interviews.”

Gonzalo Bustillo Restrepo, Operational Excellence Manager, Döhler Group, Mannheim Full-Time MBA, Class of 2017

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I decided to do an MBA because I believed it was the right path towards acquiring the tools I needed to continue developing personally and to boost my career. My motivation to do my MBA in Germany was to get to know and adapt to the pragmatic and hard-working German culture. A world-class academic level and the international experience were further major criteria that contributed to my decision.

With its triple accreditation, top positions in international rankings, and great value for money, Mannheim Business School quickly caught my attention. Further investigation into the school’s didactic approach confirmed that the Mannheim MBA was indeed a perfect match. I liked the small, practical and close-knit cohorts, the integrated knowledge, and the interesting and nurturing challenges.

I was able to learn from an incredibly wide range of personal and professional experiences, not only due to the diverse backgrounds of the teachers (which may be expected) but also from the equally important rich backgrounds of my colleagues (many of whom I now call friends).

There were several bonding activities, both for the entire cohort and for the various Business Master Project (BMP) teams, which I will keep in my delightful memories box. In particular, I will laugh and enjoy remembering all the different BMP pitching presentations. Preparing the slides and the actual presentations was simultaneously funny and very stressful due to the sometimes different opinions. But at the end of the day, we achieved a good and satisfactory result, and I became a more multifaceted person while learning and working with my classmates. I learned to understand more perspectives when evaluating situations and decisions to drive businesses forward in collaboration with the various stakeholders involved.

Valuable insights into the German job market completed the MBA experience. Individual counselling sessions with the career services team helped me understand how human resources departments work with their stakeholders and what their modus operandi is when analyzing candidates. Through this process, I was able to present myself successfully in my applications and job interviews.

“The Mannheim MBA had a major impact on my career: Not only did it open a career path for me through one of the most exciting development programs, I also learned a lot about myself and realized my true potential. Although it is every student’s own responsibility to actively look for career opportunities, the staff members at MBS career services were my trusted advisors who coached me through my job search and decision-making process. I am very thankful to them for creating so many opportunities for interesting companies to present their career offers at MBS – for one of them was SAP, my current employer.”

Viktor Müller, SAP IMPACT Leadership Program participant, Mannheim Full-Time MBA, Class of 2017

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I had three main reasons for doing an MBA. Firstly, I wanted to reconnect and deepen my business knowledge. I have a Bachelor of Science in international management, a background in consulting, and ample experience with a startup in the automotive industry where I had learned a lot, especially how to take ownership of tasks and drive them towards success. With the MBA program, I wanted to further develop these skills through mentored learning situations.

Secondly, the possibility to connect with peers from around the world with similar goals in their academic and career paths appealed to me. Closely working and learning with a group of fellow classmates from so many different professional and cultural backgrounds really shapes your personality and prepares you for work in an international business environment.

And thirdly, I was sure that doing an MBA at a renowned business school would help me secure an excellent career path in the future: The higher academic degree would prepare me for a leadership position at a top employer.

And I was proven right. The Mannheim MBA had a major impact on my career: Not only did it open a career path for me through one of the most exciting development programs, I also learned a lot about myself and realized my true potential. Although it is every student’s own responsibility to actively look for career opportunities, the staff members at MBS career services were my trusted advisors who coached me through my job search and decision-making process. I am very thankful to them for creating so many opportunities for interesting companies to present their career offers at MBS – for one of them was SAP, my current employer.

Looking back, what I enjoyed most was the interesting discussions and the playful learning experiences, which were an opportunity to explore and think outside the box. My personal highlight was definitely the people I met there: I gained 60 friends from 26 countries and an invaluable network of fellow Mannheimers around the world.

I knew I wanted to do an MBA for a long time, and Mannheim for me was more than a top business school in Europe, it was an opportunity to learn from a new culture, a new language and to be exposed to one of Europe’s strongest and most diverse economies. MBS has also a broad network of innovative and established companies and the program includes the chance to be exposed and work for these companies for the final Business Master Project.

Eilyn Meneses Villabona, New Business Development Manager, Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, Mannheim MBA Class of 2014

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Why did you decide to do an MBA? Why did you choose the Mannheim Full-Time MBA?

I have a technical background and I wanted to improve my ability to properly manage projects and drive innovation. I knew I wanted to do an MBA for a long time, and Mannheim for me was more than a top business school in Europe – it was an opportunity to learn a new culture and language, and to be exposed to one of Europe’s strongest and most diverse economies. MBS also has a broad network of innovative and established companies, and the program includes the opportunity to be exposed to and work for these companies for the final Business Master Project.

What difference has the Mannheim MBA made to your career? How do the tools and know-how you gained help you in your daily work?

The Mannheim Full-Time MBA gave me the opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds, nationalities and styles, which not only allowed me to grow from the international experience, but also to learn from the different management styles. I feel I now have the tools to better manage projects and people, and I have learned to communicate more effectively with my colleagues. I also learned many tools for strategy and innovation management that I use in my everyday work, and I love to go back to my folders and read my notes from my year in Mannheim. It was an entire year dedicated to both personal and professional growth, and I loved it.

Which were your most significant experiences of the program? What was your personal highlight?

Before joining MBS, I thought I had international experience, having worked in an international and multicultural company… I could not have been more wrong. Working in another country with 23 nationalities, diverse group assignments, and a broad spectrum of personalities every day obliges you to jump out of your comfort zone and develop the empathy and the understanding you need to communicate better and to build strong working relationships with others. On the personal side, I gained friends that I will cherish for the rest of my life and learned to become a more understanding individual.

“The MBA changed my career completely, as I landed in a post-MBA leadership program that specifically recruited from Mannheim Business School. The material and tools I learned during the program serve as an anchor to which I can relate in my daily work, and have helped me become a well-rounded professional. But most importantly, I have developed personally and, thanks to our diverse class, learned how to work with colleagues from many different cultures.”

Nhu-An Christian Tieu, SAP IMPACT Leadership Program, Mannheim MBA Class of 2016

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1. Why did you decide to do an MBA? Why did you choose the Mannheim Full-Time MBA?

After working as an engineer for three years, I wanted to take on more responsibility and understand more about business and how companies operate in general. To achieve a change in industry and role, I saw the MBA as the best platform to achieve my goals within a very short period of time.

The Mannheim Full-Time MBA was an easy decision for me as it fit my three most important criteria:

  • a short, one-year program so that I could return to the professional world as soon as possible;
  • a top school accredited by international institutions; and
  • a school with something special: in the case of MBS it was the international track and the Social Sustainability Project.

2. What difference has the Mannheim MBA made to your career? How do the tools and know-how you gained help you in your daily work?

I was lucky enough to change my career completely, as I landed in a post-MBA leadership program that specifically recruited from Mannheim Business School. The material and tools I learned during the program serve as an anchor to which I can relate in my daily work, and have helped me become a well-rounded professional. But most importantly, I have developed personally and, thanks to our diverse class, learned how to work with colleagues from many different cultures. 

3. Which were your most significant experiences of the program? What was your personal highlight?

The program was a fun experience. I have lived in Germany for most of my life, but studying in Germany in a class of more than 50 international professionals with diverse backgrounds made it feel like living abroad. Some of the most significant experiences were the many social and sport activities, a great study term abroad in Singapore, and a network of former classmates whom I meet at alumni events and beyond.

My personal highlight was the phase at the end of the MBA: creating a business plan with my Multi-Competence Team, which meant spending days in ideation, going out interviewing people to validate thoughts, and simulating how it would be to start our own business.

“For me, the most important factors for choosing the Mannheim MBA were the highly international MBA cohort and the strong focus on group work. I think working in many different, highly diverse teams is a great way to learn from each other. Through courses, company speakers, and group projects, I accumulated a broad basis of business know-how, which enabled me to manage the shift from engineering to strategy consulting.”

Torben Frenk, Consultant, Bain & Company, Mannheim MBA Class of 2016

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Why did you decide to do an MBA? Why did you choose the Mannheim Full-Time MBA?

I had been working in engineering for five years and wanted to give my career a new direction. An MBA was the best option to achieve this: I knew it would help me acquire new skill sets, develop personally, and gain new experience in a challenging and international environment. I opted for a full-time program because it provided not only the opportunity to spend a term at a partner institution abroad, but also the impetus and the time required for me to rethink my career and my future.

Mannheim Business School has an excellent reputation but, for me, the most important factors for choosing the Mannheim MBA were the highly international and diverse MBA cohort and the strong focus on group work – they are the foundation of a network of ambitious future leaders that will last a lifetime.

What difference has the Mannheim MBA made to your career? How do the tools and know-how you gained help you in your daily work?

The Mannheim MBA provided me with new career prospects and enabled me to manage the shift from engineering to strategy consulting. Through courses, company speakers, and group projects, I accumulated a broad basis of business know-how. I learned how to approach problems strategically and how to ask the right questions to solve them effectively.

Which were your most significant experiences of the program? What was your personal highlight?

One of my personal highlights was the term I spent at EADA in Barcelona: I had an amazing time with a cohort of predominantly Latin American students in this exceptional city.

The course element I enjoyed the most was the group work. I think working in many different, highly diverse teams is a great way to learn from each other and to learn how to get up to speed with new colleagues within a short period of time. Achieving the Business Master Project and Social Sustainability Project goals were great team experiences! 

“The group work equips you for work in the real world, where one very rarely works individually. The Social Sustainability Project and Business Master Project were the most significant experiences for me. The satisfaction of seeing the final outcome was immense. The journey of refinement, trial and error, group dynamics, and simply learning together was what made my MBA experience worth it.”

Bharati Malar Periasamy, CRM Executive, Aston Martin Lagonda of Europe GmbH, Mannheim MBA Class of 2016

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Why did you decide to do an MBA? Why did you choose the Mannheim Full-Time MBA?

I had been working in market research for five and a half years when I realized that I wanted to be more involved in the “next stages” of what I was doing, i.e., marketing. Research showed that marketing is highly competitive and experience is practically a prerequisite, but, as I did not want to start from scratch and lose more than five years’ work experience, I decided to do an MBA.

I had already learned German years ago and figured that doing an MBA and working in Germany could be a possible option for me. The bonus was that I could keep in touch with the language – I was rapidly losing fluency in it without the opportunity for practice.

I began to research business schools in Germany and MBS was top of all the lists in rankings. Then I found a personal contact who was an MBS alumnus and picked his brain. Once satisfied with my research, I never looked back. In fact, I waited an extra year, just so I could go to MBS.

What difference has the Mannheim MBA made to your career? How do the tools and know-how you gained help you in your daily work?

Before joining, I was a little apprehensive of the master thesis being a group project. I can say with certainty now that it makes complete sense. All that group work throughout the year equips you for work in the real world, where one very rarely works individually. Being dependent on others for an important goal pushes one to motivate and bolster the team, and not to work in silos, because, at the end of the day, their work also reflects on you.

While I certainly do not apply all the numerous tools, models, and case-study lessons on a daily basis at work (that is not how they are meant to be applied anyway), it is always a nice moment when I can draw the link between a topic being discussed at work and an MBA tool that applies to the situation. It usually brings a different perspective to the table.

Which were your most significant experiences of the program? What was your personal highlight?

The Social Sustainability Project and Business Master Project were the most significant experiences for me. The satisfaction of seeing the final outcome (even just on a PowerPoint presentation) is immense, especially knowing that everything started off with hasty scribbles on flipcharts and whiteboards, unstructured and messy, but never lacking in enthusiasm or absolute confidence! The journey of refinement, trial and error, group dynamics, and simply learning together was what made my MBA experience worth it.

In my opinion, the best thing the MBA equipped me for was working with different cultures and nationalities. For someone who did not have much global experience, it was at first unnerving to be thrust into a multinational team and to gauge how to best proceed to ensure we got to our goal and best utilized our strengths. With each assigned team, it was a different process of finding the right balance. That is something that can only be experienced, and I cannot think of any other opportunity I could have had in my life where I could interact intensely with that many different nationalities.

"Best quality from the best source, this is what I wanted. I had 9 years of professional experience, both international and managerial, having worked seven years for a large multinational and two years for a mid-size international consulting firm. I was well on track, yet I wanted something else for my further development. I knew that doing an MBA would be challenging, but I was looking for a quantum leap to take. So, to me the question was: Where is the right place for me? I knew that I would carefully evaluate on where to go. To me, a top business school had to be located in a highly developed region. So I asked myself: Where do many of the most successful companies in the world come from? In terms of entrepreneurship, innovation, business stability, work life balance, business and societal trust, ethics and fair play, all of these combined, where could I go?The answer to my questions came quickly: To the only institution standing out in worldwide business school rankings - Mannheim Business School."

Pablo Gálvez, Mannheim MBA Class of 2011

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The Survival Kit

The decision was made and before I came to Mannheim, all important organizational issues were taken care of, requiring just a little cooperation from my side. The MBS Program Management Team stands for quality and responsiveness. I have rarely experienced dealing with such an effective, diligent and friendly team. Financial aid: MBS gave me the option to get a loan from a financial institution in cooperation with the school. Of course there was some paperwork to do, but I was continuously supported by MBS. The conditions were fair. Residence Permit: As a European I didn't require a residence permit but this was something which MBS helped my colleagues with. It is always a hassle to go through bureaucracy, just like anywhere else. Apartment: In advance, I was provided with the guidelines for student apartments including pictures, prices and services. Within only one week, I had the contract for my apartment. For 390€ per month, everything was included: water, heat, electricity, high speed internet and cable TV access. Of course, this was not a 5 star hotel but to me it was Mannhamas! It was really warm in the winter when it was snowing outside and - thanks to good isolation- pretty chilly during summertime. The apartment was full of light, with a large window and a door window leading to a shared balcony. The Rhine river was located only a couple of meters away. The internet connection was totally reliable through the entire year. Videoconferences via skype or watching the Champions League via streaming was not an issue - perfect quality. Besides, I had a little kitchen with simply everything, a private  bathroom, and cable TV. MBS was only a 15-minute walk away. Food: Food in Germany, especially in Mannheim, is very cheap if you come from any other Western European country or North America. During the week, I typically had lunch at the University dining hall (Mensa) for 2,50€ (soup, salad and main dish), but sometimes I got a bit more fancy and ordered a menu at a restaurant (German, Indian, Japanese, Thai, Italian...) for only a couple of Euros more! It only took me a couple of minutes in order to walk to all these lovely restaurants. There were a lot of supermarkets, too, which were quite cheap and offered good quality!


First Days, First Week

I arrived at Mannheim a couple of days before the program started. I had spoken with several students (the MBS Program Management provided me with contact details of current MBA students and everyone was immediately available for me with answers about the program, living in Mannheim, etc.) and I knew I would be fine. During those days,I decided to go for a run by the Rhine river and walked through a  lovely park. It was just beautiful to go running, biking, and rollerblade skating. Soon I was sitting in the MBS Lecture Hall attending classes. The first week was an introductory one: We gained access to iConn (interface platform for students, program management, and professors) and access to wireless internet across the entire University of Mannheim. We got our student ID card in order to be able to access MBS buildings and libraries, we took professional pictures for the profile book, had a kick-off dinner with the entire class, worked on business case studies, attended workshops, and were divided into Multi Competence Teams. There were some fun ice-breakers and a cross-cultural training with interesting personalities from all over the wolrd: China, India, Russia, USA, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Great Britain, Turkey, Pakistan, Spain - wow!


Second Week, Buckle Up

The intensity of the program varied each week. There were really tough days, on which I had to catch up with lectures and case studies during the week as well as long nights of little sleep,, during which I studied, prepared a case study or a presentation. On average, I had classes from  9.00 am to 6.00 pm (lectures) plus several hours of group work almost every day. But in the end, this was a worthwhile investment. There were also fun times: Lots of jokes, laughing, coffee breaks, or having pizza for dinner with my team mates. Classes officially stated at the beginning of the second week with a lecture about Decision Analysis.


First Semester

The first semester seemed to be less intense than the rest. However, we had to get used to the system, the new people and dynamics first of all. Furthermore, we had to dedicate much time in order to really dig into fundamental subjects such as Financial Accounting, Marketing, Managerial Accounting, Corporate Finance, or Macroeconomics. I enjoyed these subjects very much with very insightful and down-to-earth lectures that gave me a solid ground for the upcoming ones. Company presentations and business forums already started in the first semester. Leading international companies visited us during the whole year, it was a great chance to start networking. Other highlights were: A big party in November after our first exams, Glühwein to warm up in December, delicious chocolate crêpes to get some sugar after the demanding semester, dinner together with all colleagues to say goodbye to 2010 and the end of our first semester.


Second Semester

The good thing about the second semester was that the intensity did not vary anymore, it was intense the whole time! Lectures from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm every single day plus daily group work (case studies one after another including presentations every week until the end of June) as the subjects are running weekly at full capacity. However, in this semester I had Strategy, Information Systems, Organizational Behavior & Change Management, Ethics & CSR, Innovation Management, Company Valuation, Consumer Behavior - subjects that were easier for me to grasp. Even though each week was an intense one, we had a couple of weeks off since I had not taken certain elective subjects. This gave me the opportunity to rest a bit, finish late assignments and prepare for te upcoming weeks. The best thing was the number of guest speakers (business professionals - executives) that professors invited for lectures. They gave excellent speeches and presentations. I will never forget one evening during Consumer Behavior in March, it was still cold outside, when I was listening to an executive from Saatchi & Saatchi speaking about their Lovemarks Model, of how products, services or organizations that build relationships with their consumers cannot be explained rationally, but create loyalty beyond reason. The whole class was completely in silence and absorbed. We had many lectures like this one: a turn-around case in the toy industry in the midst of the financial crisis (Strategy); the dilemma of expatriates when sent abroad for several years (Change Management); how the executive board of a multinational made decisions during the crisis literally throwing business plans to the garbage to focus on their liquidity (cash position, or blood as it is said); the ethical dilemmas that a Top Manager faces when having tremendous power (Ethics & CSR) - oh how I loved doing the MBA! Having decided on what to do as our Social Project, it was already  time to start working seriously on this issue. We were going to help an NGO by providing them with plans to be more efficient in reaching out people and help them execute on it.


Third Semester

This semester was still very intense. On the one hand, we had subjects such as HR Management, Corporate Mergers & Restructuring, Global Information Management, International Marketing, Production Operations, Strategy Global Corporations, and Taxation - with exams, presentations, and case studies. Again, all of them were incredibly interesting topics with open discussions in class, in addition with guest speakers almost every week during lectures. On the other hand, it was time for all MCTs to do the Company Project as well as the Social Project. Attending presentations and preparing well for the Company Project was important as we knew we would be intensively working with the companies for two months. By this time, if not even earlier, many of us were working on our CVs and preparing for job interviews. We were attending MBA fairs, job fairs, company presentations, and optional company visits to Porsche, BASF, or Amazon. In this semester I finally started seeing the finish line. Time was moving fast and I knew that this great year would be over soon. Until then, I celebrated it at the Biergarten, enjoying the good weather and drinking some beer with my class mates!


Company Project & Master Thesis

I thought I would be able to slow down and work on my applications for the time after my MBA - but no! After attending school for 10 to 12 hours a day and then switching to the Company Project and the Master Thesis, my MCT and I thought we would have all the time in the world. Yes indeed, we had all the time in the world working on the project and the thesis. It was tough and demanding. The Company Project turned out to be a Consulting Project. For two months, we worked hand in hand with a leading company (market leaders such as: Deutsche Bank, A.T. Kerney, TRUMPF, SAP, BASF, Hereaus, BOSCH, BMW, etc) developing a Lead Indicator Management System to anticipate market movements and therefore enable them to steer the company more effectively. The CEO came to the intermediate presentation (8000 employees worldwide) and also the Board of Management was present at the final presentation. Management in UK took a flight to Germany for the presentation that day, so yeah, the project was taken very seriously.


The Campus

Everything is within reach at Mannheim Business School. We attended classes in two different MBS buildings: The MBS Lecture Hall at Mannheim Palace (Schloss Mannheim) and one at Dalbergplatz (Education Center Dalbergplatz), right at the heart of Mannheim downtown. In both locations were meeting rooms as well as copy machines, drinks (water, chocolate, coffee, tea), wireless internet access, restrooms, fridge and microwave, etc. With our ID cards we had access to University libraries and multiple quiet places to study, but we could also study at MBS facilities.


Time for Everything

Whether you want to play soccer, go swimming, go to the gym (free for students), play tennis or basketball, play cricket or go skiing - there is time for everything if you get yourself organized. We did most of the sport and leisure activities as a group. We managed to play indoor soccer almost every week and participated in a fun soccer tournament in Leipzig against other business schools and companies across Europe. Some colleagues trained several months, starting in spring time, for a rowing contest in Cologne that took place in July; they loaded a whole bus of MBA Mannheimers to cheer them up that day. Thirty of us, including the program management, participated in the Mannheim marathon, which takes place every year. Going out for a beer with your best buddies fortunately did not require any planning nor training.


Frequently Asked Questions



Q: How difficult is to find a job in Germany without speaking German?

 

A: I distinguish between finding a job and already having a job/working. Finding a job in Germany with absolutely no German skills is, of course, difficult. I would say that it is as difficult as it is in any other country where you do not speak the language. The good news is  that finding a job in Germany with intermediate German skills is relatively easy if you meet the background and experience requirements (and of course you are genuinely motivated to continue improving). Once a German company offers you a job, chances are good that you will stay in that company -if you want to. Working in Germany, however, is easier compared  to other countries, because German companies are very open, very international and they all pretty much speak English. Still, speaking German is a must. I took advantage of the German courses offered for free by MBS and attended two different levels for 9 months. This required some energy, but in the end, you do not only have an MBA degree, but also German skills. Take it seriously!  

 

Recommendations during your MBA @ MBS

Why do you do an MBA?

"To learn" you may say. Good! To learn, not to be taught. Although the lecture standards are pretty high, the diversity at MBS in terms of nationalities, backgrounds and experience is huge and needs to be balanced. My advice: You are in the driver seat and should be responsible for your learning experience. The professors will teach you something, but the learning process itself takes place within you. Go the extra mile, deepen your knowledge, ask tons of questions, research for pure pleasure even if something is not part of the exam but simply interests you personally. Start sending out CVs soon enough (March-April). I have been there and it takes time; an MBA is not the Master of the Universe.
Be disciplined when it comes to learning German, this will be the the factor of differentiation. Discipline weighs ounces, regrets weigh tons. Be aware that Germans are very respectful and will switch to English for you at any time, but this does not help you. Broaden your horizon!

 

"Make the most of it!" – Get as much experience as possible, that's exactly what I wanted my MBA year in Mannheim to be like. For me personally, this meant to take the chance to spend one term abroad. India seemed the perfect place to dig into a new culture and get a sense what the business life is like in an emerging country. I have chosen the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore (IIMB) because it is one of the highest ranked Business Schools in Asia and has got an excellent reputation for educating future top managers. I am happy to share with you some of my experiences there."

Regina Rieger, Mannheim MBA Class of 2011

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Preparation

"India I am coming" - I got the letter of acceptance from IIMB half a year before the start of the exchange term. The Program Management of Mannheim Business School provided me with all the necessary information I needed to prepare for my time abroad. I received first information about the visa application process, course selection, accommodation, term dates around the same time. There were three important things for me to do in advance: Apply for the student visa at the consulate, send some documents and pictures to the administration office at IIMB and confirm that I want to have a room in the hostel block. That's it – all the other things were organized by MBS. Thanks a lot for that.

The course bidding process

I didn't hear much from IIMB until the first term in Mannheim already started (one thing I learned in India was to stay relaxed if things take more time…). It was at the beginning of October when the bidding process for the courses was announced. At IIMB you bid for the courses you want to take by allocating a maximum number of 1000 points to three to five courses of your choice. The variety of courses was huge with subjects from economic, finance, strategy, operations, history and entrepreneurship to soft skill courses. We joined the last term in the second year of the two-year MBA program (called Postgraduate Program, PGP), that's why a lot of the courses were advanced courses (i.e. advanced corporate finance) or focused on a specific topic in the area of marketing or economics (i.e. brand management, global financial markets). The course descriptions were very helpful to get an overview of what pre-requisites each course had. Courses were offered from Monday morning to Saturday evening and each course consisted of 1 ½ hours lecture twice a week. As I said before, the courses were allocated in a bidding process. There was a mock bidding which helped us to get a feeling which courses are worth what number of points. My strategy for the bidding process was to select courses offered from Wednesday to Saturday and allocate 70 percent of my bidding points for my two favorite courses that were ranked highly and allocate the rest to the remaining three. It worked out and I got all the courses in the first round (there were three rounds until all the students had selected their courses). As I took the chance to change some courses after the first week, I will tell you about my final course choice later.

My first days in Bangalore


The term in Bangalore already started at the beginning of December. This meant that we left Mannheim before the end of term one. As we missed the exams in two courses we had to write assignments instead (we were given three or four different topics to choose one from and write a twelve page paper on it to hand it in after four weeks). I arrived in India on a Friday, got my room in the new hostel block and explored the campus a bit. In the evening after dinner I got a phone call from another exchange student saying that we have got class next morning at 8 o'clock. I was a bit surprised, because I was told that class starts the following week and we did not get any notice about the earlier start. We finally got the email at 10pm on Friday night – last minute emails, just a few hours before the class –– common practice here and something to which I, as a German :-), had to get used to. For the rest of the weekend I used the free time to get to settle down and get to know the other exchange and Indian students on the campus.

The campus


The campus itself is huge and very nice (I call it "the green oasis"). It is convenient to have everything you need (canteen, coffee shop, kiosk, gym, library, computer room) on campus and within walking distance. All the PGP students (Postgraduate Program students, the two year MBA program at IIMB which we joined in their last term) live on campus. Every student had a room for him/herself (about 12m²) with shared bathrooms (about 8-10 students). We exchange students were moved into the newest hostel blocks which were opened just a few months before. In the tuition fee for IIMB, accommodation and the food of the canteen is already included. At the canteen – placed in the middle of the campus - they offer breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The food that is served is Indian vegetarian food, but you can buy meat every day for lunch and dinner for about 0.50 €. Personally, I like Indian food and spicy food. At the beginning, I liked the canteen food very much, but at the end I preferred to eat at one of the restaurants around. At night, starting at around 10:30 you can get rice, noodles and dosas at the night canteen for which you have to pay extra (for noodles about 0.30 € – affordable even for students).

The second challenge: Indian bureaucracy

The first week started with a lot of bureaucratic work. I didn't count, but I suppose I needed about 10-15 pictures in these first day, a lot of passport copies and hours of waiting time. After three days of running from one administration office to the other I finally had my student card, my "bonafide letter", my residential letter and a mobile phone card.

My conclusion after the first week


The first lecture week was kind of an introductory week where you could sit in all the courses and see whether they offer what you expected from the syllabus. At the end of the week, we were allowed to change up to two courses in the add/drop process. After talking to students and professors to find out what I can expect from the respective course, I took the chance to change some of my courses.  The final course selection was the following: International Negotiation Skills (this course was based on the Harvard Negotiation Project. Besides we discussed cultural differences in social behavior, communication and business practices) Inclusive Business Model (how to target the Bottom of the pyramid with profitable business models. This was the course provided the highest learning experience about the current economic situation, trends and social conditions in India. Moreover, it gave interesting insights in the challenges this country has to overcome to eradicate poverty) Multinational Management (a case based course on various topics in strategic management. This course was the most intense with a lot of readings. The reading material was excellent, however too much in terms of volume) Global Financial Markets (a combination between economics and finance about foreign exchange markets and monetary policy. I expected a practical course with in insights into current financial scenarios. However, the course was rather theoretical, focusing on the time between 1980 and 2000) Project & Portfolio Management (a theoretical overview of project management with two lectures on MS Project.) In each course, we had lectures of 1,5 hours twice a week. Although this does not seem too much, I completely underestimated the pre- and post-preparation necessary for each of the course. Often, I had about 200-300 pages to read for the five courses I took. Although, I had courses on only 4 days a week there was barely any leisure time and I studied every day including weekend. At the beginning I had the plan to use the weekends to travel in the south of India, however, due to the workload of the five courses I was not able to do so.

Outside campus

So far I have only told you what happened on campus. Of course, I acquired a lot of experiences outside. Life is thrilling on the streets in India. I could spent hours just looking around: seemingly totally disorganized traffic, crowds people on the street no matter what time, a lot of cows and waste on the street, noise from cars and people talking and shouting at each other etc. At the beginning, I had to get used to all this but this was exactly what made my experience in Bangalore so particularly Indian. I was able to experience both – people living at the Bottom of the pyramid but I also met young people who worked hard to live their dream of climbing up the social ladder and driving India up to a world economy. To get closer in touch with Indian tradition and culture, I decided to take a one week yoga and meditation course and visited a guru. Unique experiences, that inspired me most during my time in Bangalore. Besides that, I took the chance to do some bargain shopping in the city Centre to buy both, Western and Indian clothes and accessories.

 

Exam times are tough times

The workload of the five courses I had was pretty intense. In all of my courses I had pre-readings for each lectures (up to 50 pages per course) and at least one assignment or presentation to hand in for one of the courses per week. Time became even tougher before exam times. At IIMB we had mid- and end-term exams in most of the courses. The students from IIMB were pretty relaxed because their grades from term 6 don't really matter as placements already started and will be over before grades come out. The exams themselves depended totally on the professor, however, most of them were designed like typical school exams: Several questions that require detailed and specific answers. Personally, I prefer essay-like questions were you can apply your knowledge, rather than writing down what you learned by heart. Instead of end-term exams, some courses required comprehensive project work (i.e. we had to come up with a business plan for an inclusive business model in one of the courses) or a written assignment. I was very happy and much more relaxed after the exams were over. But after the end-term exams that also meant that my time at IIMB was over.

Going home? – No, please not yet!

After the exams were over, most of the exchange students – including myself – started to travel. If you are in India take that time to explore this unique and exciting country! It is worth it! Finally, it was time for me to say "goodbye India" – but for sure, I will be back one day! :-)

"This year at Mannheim Business School gave me way more than what I expected. Not only could I develop valuable skills and make precious contacts, but I think I also opened myself up to a new me, with a new approach on things and on the way professional issues should be treated."

Jean-Christophe Irigoyen, Mannheim MBA Class of 2013

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"So tell me, why did you want to pursue an MBA?"

It is one of the most common questions I have been asked in several interviews. And I must confess this is probably the most important. Yes, really. Why did I apply for an MBA? What did I want to achieve, to change in my career and my life? It is actually quite hard to say. Of course, as everyone, I probably wanted to move to the next career step: an MBA is a perfect way to do so. Though if I try to get deeper than this, there are probably other motivations. I think it has to do with my previous job: it was also my first position; I learnt a lot within the almost 5 years I spent in my former company, an advertising agency, but at the same time, it made me realise I had potential for more. My until then academic formation, a master in history, was nevertheless limiting me and after several talks with work partners, I decided to apply and make a move. Deriving from this first thought, I was then expecting the best from the studies I was to undergo. This is why I decided to apply at Mannheim Business School: it is the best MBA offer in the leading European economy. The choice was easy. I believe it is a question each candidate should try to answer honestly before even starting the application process. One needs to know what one wants to achieve to be able to measure afterwards success.

Getting ready

I believe I needed to get ready on different levels; of course a full-time MBA is a serious investment in money and time, but also a bet on the future: as did most of the students of the batch, I left a stable work and left professional life away for a whole year, and the registration doesn't come with a guarantee to find a new job, so I really needed to believe in me and in the program. This is a calculated risk, but still a risk. I find it adds some fun to the whole experience. For the rest, the application process was pretty straight-forward. GMAT, Case study, a couple of interviews. I don't say it was easy, but I believe if you prepare well on this, it will be feasible. One element I actually didn't expect was the multicultural aspect of the batch. I knew there would be several nationalities, I didn't know there would be 24 ones! This is one of the most beautiful aspects of this MBA, to be able to exchange on a daily basis with people from literally the five continents. If you are applying for an MBA or are thinking of doing so, I would recommend you to keep this in mind and to prepare yourself to others. Be open, let other points of view, other approaches blow your mind. You'll come out of the experience way richer than when you entered.

Getting started

 

The Program Management seriously tried and provided us a smooth start in the MBA. Those who wanted it could apply for a pre-course of financial accounting (a proper survival kit for people like me who never had anything to do with this before) and we also went through a week of integration, to get to know each other. This week was full of team-building activities (I cannot recall half of them to be honest) and was pretty lean-back. If I  had known, I would have enjoyed it more. After this, we were done with being relaxed for the rest of the year. But one good thing lasted for the whole year, namely the group feeling. There is competition, sure, but it is a fair and healthy one. Joining your MBA batch, joining MBS, people actually join a family. This feeling is reinforced during the whole year through regular group activities, such as group assignments (and there is a new group in each class, so at the end everyone worked at least once with each colleague), but also and mostly through extra-curricular activities. I ended up doing more sport than ever during this year, starting with the preparation for the rowing competition. This meant waking up very early in the morning twice or thrice a week (yes, they did not stop the classes for us, so we had to train before), but this exceptional experience strengthened us as a group. By the way, we won the cup against WHU Business School. This feeling of belonging together is finally maintained via all the networking events that the Program Management and the Career Services Team organise regularly with alumni from different companies or via regular get-togethers. I came to work with other students, I think I found friends. Once I entered MBS, I became a true Mannheimer, and the feeling will last.

Second and Third Term


The second and third term consisted of mainly one week courses – shorter, but more intense. My daily schedule comprised German lessons after classes, rushing back to finish up on project work with groupmates through the night (revising as we go along before Friday's exam), and attending company networking events. Adding on, I had to juggle between applications to graduate programs and business plan competitions. And oh, not to forget waking up at 5:30 am every two weekdays to make it to the rowing club in the cold! Term 2 and 3 really took a lot of time planning.
Yet, one has to really find time to relax. I remembered on two occasions, actually finishing exams on Friday and rushing off with luggage from the ECD to join my classmates on ski trips! We even had a bachelor party in Amsterdam for two of our classmates, all squeezed between our elective courses!

Getting serious

Some IT schools describe the first months of studies as "the swimming pool", either you swim or you sink. Well, the first term at MBS is maybe not that cruel - people here, starting with your colleagues, will not let you sink, but you definitely need to learn to swim. And you need to learn fast. Once the real classes began, we were put directly in front of reality. There is enough theory, don't misunderstand me, but from the very beginning we were confronted with practical exercises and, even more stressful for everyone, with grades. We had one year only, and we all wanted not only to graduate, but also to be good at it. Each grade counts in this regard, so we understood very fast that we needed a full commitment if we wanted to make the most of this year. I talked earlier of believing in me as well as in the program. This couple (individual/program) is for me the core of the MBA: we got the chance to be offered a top-notch education, but it was only as useful as the efforts we wanted to put in it. It is my MBA, because it is what I made of it. I believe that each MBA experience is unique. Each one of us had his or her own one and each of us bears the responsibility of making it or not a great time.

 

Getting better

Once I got used to the rhythm, I must say that I started enjoying the rest. It is not that it got simpler: I still had to learn tons of new things, work on complex projects, hold presentations, work at the weekends, but at one point I just got the pace and this complexity became part of the daily life. I just didn't think that much about it anymore. In this sense, if term 1 was the somehow rough adaptation term, the following terms 2&3 improved me in that they made me (and the other students) more able to deal professionally with complex issues in a short time. I was able to test the reality of this improvement in the last sprint: term 4 and the Business Master Project. My group and I had the chance to have a very challenging project at adidas. Two months to deal with new issues, assess problems and provide proposals for improvement. The company itself is great and the team in which we worked was very helping and committed, but it was for the four of us a real challenge. Furthermore, it was the first time we were pretty much on our own: we had to define everything ourselves and find the resources to overcome difficulties and work as a team. I think we managed this well. On the other side, MBS requires the different groups to conceive and realise a mandatory social project during the year. The idea behind the project is that, having the chance to do an MBA that promises us to a great professional future, we need to give back something to society and help people with less luck. I like this mentality and MBS is completely honest in this regard, this is not a mere PR measure to look more human. We were lucky and were able to do our project with an association working with kids from less favoured backgrounds. Those kids had passions they could express within the association: sports, art, music. We thought of giving them on the one hand the opportunity to express themselves towards a broader audience and also, why not, to gain new skills that would be of use in their future. This is why we worked together with them and helped them create a blog about their association and their activities. I think we did well, the kids showed commitment and I believe they enjoyed the project. From my point of view though, I enjoyed this project probably as much as they did, I really liked to see their passion in it. These are probably the elements I didn't expect from the MBA. In this sense, it exceeded my expectations.

Getting done with it

This is definitely the hardest part of the year. After building not only relationships, but also true friendship with some of the colleagues, I realised it was already over. Yes, I was happy to graduate, I was happy to have it finally behind me, to be able to take some rest. Finally. But at the same time, I'd be lying if I would say that this satisfaction was not slightly flavoured with sadness. I achieved each of my initial goals with this MBA, but this year also brought me way more than what I was expecting. I am a different, better person on a professional point of view: this year revealed some aspects of me. I also think it made me think about myself and also change for something better. MBS is now a part of the definition I would give of myself, it reshaped me somehow. I am done with my MBA, I am definitely not done with Mannheim Business School.

"A great one-year program, coupled with a strong internationally diverse class. Among all the MBA programs that I have considered, Mannheim Business School stood out with all the above. As a person from the Asia Pacific region, gaining an international exposure in Europe's most dynamic economy was one of my key goals in pursuing an MBA. While the timing may be set to the backdrop of the ensuing European financial crisis, Germany's dynamism and intensive focus on innovation by its companies, many of whom are world market leaders, was what attracted me. Along with the strong network of companies partnered with Mannheim Business School, the frequency of close contact with industry professionals in the market and the openness in career opportunities for non-EU nationals proved another strong point."

Yongkang Ng, Mannheim MBS Class of 2013

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Why an MBA?

As a working professional from the Telecoms industry, I had often faced challenges in terms of knowing how investing decisions are usually made at the top level. Sensing the opportunity, I knew an MBA was important for me to gain important financial skills, to better justify "numbers" in the future. Having met others who have also done an MBA, I received strong encouragement from senior colleagues who not only highlighted the value of technical knowledge, but also the broader knowledge of the wider world, as well as the richness of their experience. As my seniors said, "having long-term friends and sharing once in a lifetime moments", was something more intangible which I personally sought in the program. The Mannheim MBA is not only about theory, but it's also about networking. While the program may still be rather young, the Mannheim network provides a personal relationship to highly specialized individuals, which would help in the future.

Preparation and Kick-Off week

Honestly, my arrival to Mannheim was not the smoothest. Three days before I left for Mannheim, I was still working in my company and having back-to-back meetings regarding the handover of a key COO-level project. My last working day at Singapore's leading cable TV provider and telecom operator ended on a Wednesday. I collected my visa on Thursday and left immediately on Friday evening, right into the pre-course Financial Accounting class on Saturday morning. To top it off, I also had to stay with a fellow classmate for the next two weeks as my room was not ready. While that seemed exciting and hair-raising last minute, I certainly would recommend making preparations in advance! It would be better to understand your environment, and learn German to make the transition easier.

following kick-off week gave me the opportunity to finally meet my classmates, and it was interesting to speak with people who came from Russia, India and Brazil, and the kick off week provided that opportunity to build relationships with people who would be with you for the next year. I also learned more about European geography – e.g. I didn't know where the Ukraine was until I came here!

It was also really interesting to understand the career and personal objectives of my classmates. Most came to enhance their business and finance skills, others came to take a break to learn what they really wanted out of their careers. There were some who came for their better half, and there were also two mothers in our class! I found this diversity of backgrounds really inspiring.

First Term

I opted for the German track specifically to focus on the German market, and to get as much exposure as possible. After the kick off week, some classmates had left for the first semester abroad. For those who remained, the core courses of Financial Accounting, Marketing, Strategic Management, Corporate Finance and Macroeconomics came up next. With 6 weeks of coursework per module, it was certainly intense and we also had to manage German classes in the evenings. My recommendation here would be for future candidates to focus on German perhaps even before the first semester, and to have good time management especially during group discussions. There is always a risk to run off-track, and while late-nights and working weekends are the norm for most MBA programs, my personal advice would be to focus on key items and spend time efficiently. It would be better to learn German whenever possible, and to also show up for the frequent company events offered during the Mannheim MBA.

We also had the option to select our electives during this period, and I consulted the Program Management for their advice pertaining to my career focus, which was marketing and finance. Mannheim Business School offered a wide range of courses, ranging from hard skills in finance to soft managerial skills such as HR and cross-cultural management. Being still rather junior in my experience, my strategy here would be to beef up my hard skills. For more senior individuals with more business experience, the soft-skills electives might be a better choice.

Second and Third Term

The second and third term consisted of mainly one week courses – shorter, but more intense. My daily schedule comprised German lessons after classes, rushing back to finish up on project work with groupmates through the night (revising as we go along before Friday's exam), and attending company networking events. Adding on, I had to juggle between applications to graduate programs and business plan competitions. And oh, not to forget waking up at 5:30 am every two weekdays to make it to the rowing club in the cold! Term 2 and 3 really took a lot of time planning.

Yet, one has to really find time to relax. I remembered on two occasions, actually finishing exams on Friday and rushing off with luggage from the ECD to join my classmates on ski trips! We even had a bachelor party in Amsterdam for two of our classmates, all squeezed between our elective courses!

Business Plan Competitions and Networking

Use every opportunity to attend every company event and network, network, network. It's important not only in applications, but to build your own credibility in the industry you are in. On average, there is an event every two weeks, and it gives an opportunity to learn more about the industry and the business. I had the chance here to meet some senior executives from DHL, Roche, MVV and Freudenberg.

Additionally, business plan competitions are a good opportunity to practice what you have learnt, and I had the chance here to participate in three competitions: Airbus Fly Your Ideas 2013, Henkel Challenge 2013 and the European Business Plan Competition 2013. I managed to get into the finals for the European Business Plan Competition 2013, which focused on developing a technology product for the restaurant industry. While I did not make it to Athens with the team due to ongoing BMP pitches, it was amazing to practice cash flow and investment management, and I did highlight the managerial experience here during my interviews. It is tough to justify a high-risk technology business, but through that you definitely do learn a lot.

Field Trips

We had the great opportunity to participate in some insightful field trips to Porsche, BASF, KSPG automotive and the European Central Bank. The experience with Porsche was particularly insightful, and there were many learnings from that trip which I have applied into my Business Master Project, like the example of barcode scanning to track inventory and digital performance scoreboards all around the factory floor to build operational visibility.

Additionally, the visit to the European Central Bank also allowed us to understand the ongoing Euro crisis at a deeper level. While the news always focus on the negatives, it was interesting to learn what the ECB is doing to try and help individual economies recover. And let's not forget the numerous other site visits we had with e.g. BASF and KSPG. It was a huge eye-opener for me especially since I had never seen a manufacturing plant before.

My tip here is to always ask questions during these visits and keep an observational eye, as they provide very deep insights into things like inventory management, accounting and equipment depreciation methods, manufacturing best practices and technologies. These would help in the master projects, if not in anyone's professional life.

Fourth Term and Business Master Projects

The fourth semester began after intense company pitches, and we had the opportunity to work closely with Saint Gobain Building Distribution, Deutschland. It was definitely a great learning opportunity, to bring your experience and skills from your past job and what you have learnt into a real world challenge.

In our case, it was helping the company to pursue business excellence in its strategy and existing business model. It was an intense 2.5 months, and we did receive very strong support from our company contact, which involved 2 emails a day and at least 3 phone calls on a daily basis! Not to mention, the numerous interviews and presentations we had with senior level colleagues in Saint Gobain, including the CEO and chief purchasing officer. At the end, we concluded with a master thesis and the final presentation, which was presented to all the senior level colleagues. The last update we had, was that Saint Gobain would actually begin to work on our concept in the middle of next year, and it is definitely satisfying to see your work being taken seriously.

I would recommend to anyone to keep a very open mind, as the projects you get may not be what you want, but it's important to make the best out of it. While we were initially disappointed that our group did not get our desired project, our time with Saint Gobain turned out to be one of the best consulting experiences I ever had.

Rowing Competition

The rowing competition was a key highlight for me. I had the privilege to be the coxswain a week before the race, but it came with a huge price. We began training in winter, and I remember running to the boathouse every morning at 5:30 am in the cold, and getting to the water in the snow. Cold, but Gold. Each training session lasted an hour, and many of us had to rush to class immediately after that, and we were in the water conducting synchronized rowing every other two days. Weekends included.

While we were clumsy in handling the boat in the first few weeks, we were completely proficient by summertime, and rowing in the Neckar in the summer was one of the most amazing experience you can ever have. There was even one time where a couple of us, including me, actually fell into the river. Having duck poop all over you, was definitely something to remember.

The day came when we had the competition in Düsseldorf in summer, and while I was constantly a rower, I was assigned to be coxswain a week before the match as I was the smallest guy in the all men's team. Being a coxswain may seem easy of course to any observer, but honestly it takes a lot of coordination, timing and focus to be a good one – you need to provide the timing, aim for the buoy and guide the rudder together with the first man, and jam it when you are making the turn. One missed timing, the whole boat synchronization goes off. While we lost the men's match, our girls and mixed team won the cup back for Mannheim!

I definitely look forward to joining a rowing club in the future, and to possible alumni competitions also. :-)

Social Life

And of course, the people. In this 12 months, I have made many relationships which I am confident will last a long time. During winter, I was constantly throwing home parties in my room in N6, and it was definitely a great chance to get everyone together. And not forgetting the many other nights out in many of Mannheim's nice bars, as well as the occasional party trip to nearby destinations like Prague, Bavaria and Amsterdam. One of the key highlights of living together with classmates is the ease of getting each other to have a drink, either in your room or on the rooftop of our dormitory.

And I also remember, the strong support we provided to each other for our Social Project. Nothing beats supporting the other team in running 10km for underprivileged kids in a fundraising event. Likewise, getting pranked by other teams who filmed and shared our secret singing performances in preparation for our social project, which was to help prepare some kids to sing for the 100th Anniversary of the Uhland Grundschule in Mannheim.

For anyone seeking an MBA, it is true when they say, the key takeaway from an MBA is not only the technical knowledge, but also the people you meet and spend your time with. From rowing, to skiing, running and even just having wine by the river – the friends I made here, and the experience of the past 12 months that I would take with me, would be something to remember for a long time.

Tuition Fees: A substantial investment

Effort: Lots of late nights

Experience and Friends: Totally Priceless!

MANNHEIM BUSINESS SCHOOL (MBS)

Located in the heart of the German and European economy, Mannheim Business School (MBS), the umbrella organization for management education at the University of Mannheim, is considered to be one of the leading institutions of its kind in Germany and is continuously ranked as Germany’s #1.

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