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How do experienced leaders continue to develop? By learning more every day. By constantly reflecting on their actions and decisions. And by exchanging ideas with the smartest brains. This is exactly the core philosophy of our Executive MBA programs: The best should come together in Mannheim, learn with and from each other, and thus unleash their full potential. This is why many companies of all sizes and industries develop their top performers with one of our Executive MBA programs.
18-month, weekend-based part-time Executive MBA program for professionals and executives with at least 8 years of postgraduate job experienceLearn more
18-month, modular-based part-time Executive MBA program for professionals and executives with at least 8 years of postgraduate job experienceLearn more
Benefit from a flexible and convenient curriculum tailored to the needs of busy executives
Get a degree from Germany’s leading university in business
Gain up-to-date knowledge in all relevant management disciplines
Benefit from a world-class faculty who combine real business know-how with cutting edge insights from research
Grow as a leader and boost your personal development
Gain a truly cross-cultural business perspective and benefit from highly diverse classes
Extend your EMBA experience and attend Personal Development Days up to three years after graduation
Be inspired by the valuable and lasting high-calibre MBS network of business partners, participants, and alumni
Refine your professional profile and increase your versatility and value to your employer
Get an excellent value for money
Executive MBA programs are considered as career boosters and the ideal springboard for a career in top management. But who is the ideal candidate for these programs? And what makes them so special? Nilgün Vatansever, Admissions Manager for the Executive MBA programs at Mannheim Business School, explains.
Ms. Vatansever, who is the ideal candidate for an Executive MBA program?
Executive MBA programs are suitable for experienced professionals and executives with considerable work experience and a first academic degree. At Mannheim Business School, we require at least eight years’ professional experience. However, the current class average is significantly higher. Thus, these programs are the ideal choice both for professionals wanting or having to move into general management and for executives already having personnel and/or budget responsibility and wanting to develop themselves professionally and personally.
Why this distinction from normal MBA programs? Couldn’t it be inspirational for experienced executives and young managers to exchange views?
Of course, and good business schools also offer this opportunity to exchange views, but at extracurricular events. Although the basic content of an MBA and an Executive MBA (EMBA) may be similar in many parts, the methods of knowledge transfer are different. The quality and the intensity of learning with and, above all, from each other in EMBA programs may be completely different from that in programs aimed at a younger audience. Thus, we strongly encourage participants to contribute their own knowledge and experience in the classes. Therefore, it is not uncommon that a Latin American engineer responsible for major international projects, a German humanist working in journalism and a North American geologist working in the oil industry, for instance, have to jointly find a solution to an innovative problem and, hence, contend with completely new ways of thinking and working.
This certainly places specific demands on the teaching staff, doesn’t it?
Definitely! Plain classroom teaching makes no sense in EMBA programs because basic terms and concepts are generally already familiar due to the many years of professional experience or learned through self-study. Teachers are increasingly taking on the role of moderators by leading and steering expert discussions, accurately contributing their own expertise and ultimately ensuring that the learning objectives are achieved.
What is your advice to prospective candidates? Ultimately, one hardly decides on an Executive MBA program overnight...
You should obtain accurate and comprehensive information, since not all MBA and EMBA programs offered in Germany comply with international standards. Nor is every program with “executive” in its name actually an EMBA. Therefore, you should seek to speak with the business school offering the desired program and obtain the required information, preferably in person or by talking to current participants and alumni, possibly with a similar career. Open days, like those held biannually at Mannheim Business School, are ideal. Last but not least, you should also pay attention to application deadlines and apply early to benefit from early bird discounts or scholarships.
You are an internationally experienced executive? You combine an ambitious and entrepreneurial mindset with a strong sense of responsibility? You want to expand your business knowledge, hone your management skills and grow as a person? Then you are exactly the kind of person we are looking for. The ideal candidate fulfils the following requirements:
More than 60% of our Executive MBA alumni changed jobs (within or outside their company) during the program
Among the Top 20 (ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA) worldwide in the category “career progress” in the Financial Times EMBA ranking
Salary increase of more than 45% three years after graduation for the alumni of our EMBA programs according to the Financial Times EMBA ranking
Jens Grüneklee, ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA Class of 2019
“I had gained a lot of professional experience and knowledge throughout my career by my mid-40s. However, this was purely practical experience—sometimes also due to an element of intuition, but only marginally due to specialist knowledge. I lacked the basics, the theory, which is critical when you’re up against younger, well-trained people. In the longer term, I would continue focusing on a leadership position in strategic development. I feel I am well enough prepared for this now. Although it’s been a very intensive period, I’m hugely satisfied.”
Jens Grüneklee, now Corporate Development / M&A EMEA, Gates Corporation, was completing the ESSEC & MANNHEIM Executive MBA program at Mannheim Business School at the time of this interview. He graduated in 2019.
“2017 was my breaking point. My contract as director of a Munich-based financial services provider had come to an end. I knew I didn’t want to extend it. I had gained a lot of professional experience and knowledge throughout my career by my mid-40s. However, this was purely practical experience—sometimes also due to an element of intuition, but only marginally due to specialist knowledge. I had last studied 15 years earlier. I lacked the basics, the theory, which is critical when you’re up against younger, well-trained people.
My choice of business school wasn’t primarily based on the rankings, but rather on what suited me and my interests. The networking opportunities were also one of my priorities. Since I’ve always been a committed Francophile, I looked for a program that somehow involved France. My wife is French, and we live and work in Luxembourg. So I booked an international program at Mannheim Business School, which is delivered entirely in English, with half the courses in Mannheim and the other half in Paris. Eighteen intensive months and 46 participants, each with their own specific choices, from whom I could benefit.
Although I’m one of the older ones at 47, the age difference in the group is not so big. The majority of the us are approaching 40, which I find very congenial. I would have certainly benefited less from a younger group. As it is, we all have more life and work experience.
I find learning easy. This is partly due to the fact that the knowledge transfer is different from that at universities: less bookishness and more discussion, teamwork and case studies. Since this is a sheltered space, I never have the feeling that anyone here needs to assert their alpha status. Nobody has the attitude: ‘I’m the top dog here. I know how things work.’ We all want to learn and are consequently open to new experiences.
In the longer term, I would continue focusing on a leadership position in strategic development. I feel I am well enough prepared for this now. Although it’s been a very intensive period, I’m hugely satisfied.”
Excerpt from the article „Später, aber dafür bewusster“, Christiane Bertelsmann, Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 15, 2019
Carolin Kutzera, ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA Class of 2018
“Now that almost half the program is over, I can say that I will leave with more than just a toolbox for my business. The professors are excellent at giving insights that are applicable to real life. Every time a module ends I am energetic rather than exhausted, as I am super keen to apply what I have just learnt to my job.”
With her job as creative director of a medium-sized business, Carolin is a role-model for women in our EMBA programs. She joined the ESSEC & MANNHEIM Executive MBA program last October. We have asked her if the program has met her expectations so far and how she manages to balance the workload of the program, the demands of her job and her private life.
1. What is your main motivation for an EMBA program?
As creative director, my background is rather artistic. Currently, since I am moving to a higher position in my company, I want to boost my business-oriented competences along with my leadership skills.
2. Does it meet your expectations so far?
It absolutely does. Now that almost half the program is over, I can say that I will leave with more than just a toolbox for my business. The professors are excellent at giving insights that are applicable to real life. Many assignments actually involve your own company. My study peers from the various industries help me consider things from a different perspective. There is a lot of mutual respect and exchange, and real team spirit!
3. How do you manage to juggle your job, the study workload, and private life?
Well, it is tough but possible. Some decisions at work need to happen much faster. The study part is actually a very positive additional workload. Every time a module ends I am energetic rather than exhausted, as I am super keen to apply what I have just learnt to my job. To charge my batteries, I give myself short but clear breaks where I literally go offline. This helps me free my mind and get back on track very fast.
4. What advice would you give other women thinking of doing an EMBA?
Do not find excuses to postpone your dream. Just go for it and challenge yourself. It is a great, intense journey together with a truly diverse and inspiring group of people willing to grow with you. You will not regret it!
If you want to join one of our EMBA classes, we strongly encourage you to get in contact with us. MBS also offers special scholarships for women in business. Find out more about them here.
Dr. Daniel Häußermann, Chairman of the Executive Board / CEO of ZECH Hochbau AG, Mannheim EMBA Alumnus 2016
“The EMBA not only provided me with a theoretical knowledge of economics, but also broadened my mind and helped me to reflect on many topics relating to my career, my approach to work, and internationality. Managing extreme workloads and getting through tough times with night shifts during the EMBA after arduous days clearly prepared me for times of crisis like the current one. A ‘never give up’ attitude helps a lot in times like these. Besides that, in a crisis situation companies need leaders with good general management skills, people who are genuine and empathic. To help your company, you will need to be able to deal with a lot of different issues, for example safeguarding liquidity, reducing costs without destroying the company, but also reassuring the anxieties of your workforce, and winning back clients.”
1. What is your professional background? Why did you decide to do an EMBA? Why did you choose the Weekend Track of the ESSEC & MANNHEIM Executive MBA (now: Mannheim Executive MBA)?
Following my studies in Law at the University of Tübingen and my PhD, I first started an ordinary career as a lawyer in a law firm before I joined the legal department of Bilfinger SE (at that time Bilfinger Berger AG). Over time, the company offered me the opportunity to develop my skills outside the original legal environment as Head of Mergers & Acquisitions and shortly thereafter also Head of Corporate Strategy. To support me in this career move and in stepping out of my comfort zone, an Executive MBA seemed to me the best way to learn and understand more about business models, strategy, and business analytics. The weekend-based Executive MBA at Mannheim Business School was my preferred option as already then it was the top program in Germany, and in terms of location it was the easiest to combine with my family of four kids and my challenging job in Mannheim.
2. What impact did the EMBA have on your career?
The EMBA not only provided me with a theoretical knowledge of economics, but also broadened my mind and helped me to reflect on many topics relating to my career, my approach to work, and internationality. Both the knowledge and the title I gained with the EMBA gave me the personal strength and validation I needed to step out of my initial profession and take on an operational role as CEO. In order to succeed in such a new role, you need to be open, ask questions, and build up trust. However, you also need to have the business tools ready to apply them in your job, and the EMBA helped me a lot in getting familiar with those tools. Of course, there were moments during the program when I wasn't sure whether I would be able to finish it – with all the challenges I was facing in my personal and working life at that time. But, as often in life, once you push through, you benefit even more from the experience and the confidence you get out of such an achievement.
3. What were some significant experiences that you took away with you from the program? What was your personal highlight?
For me personally, the classes in strategy, strategic leadership, and change management were absolute highlights. The residency at UCLA in Los Angeles was outstanding as the entrepreneurship we experienced there opened new horizons. The interaction with my international class mates with all their different backgrounds was a great experience as well, with friendships and a network that are still going strong today.
4. How did the EMBA prepare you for dealing with crisis situations such as the current corona pandemic?
Managing extreme workloads and getting through tough times with night shifts during the EMBA after arduous days clearly prepared me for times of crisis like the current one. A ‘never give up’ attitude helps a lot in times like these. Besides that, in a crisis situation companies need leaders with good general management skills, people who are genuine and empathic. To help your company, you will need to be able to deal with a lot of different issues, for example safeguarding liquidity, reducing costs without destroying the company, but also reassuring the anxieties of your workforce, and winning back clients.
Christian Gossmann, ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA Class of 2018
“All the course assignments were done in a multi-competence team with five to six people. This means: Failure was not an option; somehow, these groups had to get up to speed with one another. Due to the need to be effective and to face so many different personalities in such a short time, you inevitably learn a lot about yourself and others, and how to ensure the right leadership is in place to get things done. I was impressed with the open-minded, self-reflecting, professional, and friendly attitude of all these different people throughout this process. The program has made me curious about the world, about opportunities, and especially about people. I am ready to be impressed, are you?”
Graduation – some reflections
I’ve graduated with Executive MBA degrees from two renowned business schools: What a great feeling!
Eighteen months ago, a group of 49 people from 24 countries and different industries and businesses started this EMBA program. We all had different expectations and various reasons for starting. The program’s management told us upfront: “It will be a transformational experience – you will not be the same person that started this program. It will be tough, as business life goes on, and most of you have families with (up to 4!!) kids. So, the key to success is optimization and effectiveness, including support from work and especially from your families.” I didn’t realize what they meant. Now I know!
At least once a month, our studies brought us together in Paris or Mannheim for four to six days, to attend the required, mandatory courses. On top of this, we had a couple of electives and international study trips to Washington and Asia, including Singapore, Seoul, and Shanghai. Since this EMBA is a high-level program, more than one pre- and post-assignment per course frequently had to be delivered. We also had to work on multiple projects such as the social class project and the strategy project. We learned a lot: from economics, accounting, and finance, to entrepreneurship and geopolitics. As this program is in general management, we did not become experts in a particular field, unless we already were before. However, we are now able to connect the dots and get the big picture.
The entire class with our fellow students on the presidential stairs at Georgetown University, Washington.
At the core of the program is leadership. What a big and much-discussed word. For me, this is where the transformation started. I remember the first day with Prof. Kakabadse, who welcomed us with, “Most of you don’t want to be CEOs!” and the subsequent St. Cyr military leadership camp, when it became clear: These 18 months with these people will be interesting. It was an 18-month training camp, or perhaps a sandbox in which to get groups not only to work, but to deliver high-quality materials under time pressure. Almost all assignments and projects involved group work.
All the course assignments were done in a multi-competence team with five to six people. This means: Failure was not an option; somehow, these groups had to get up to speed with one another, otherwise it would have been torture. It is good we had some guidance, including creating a team charter and several coaching sessions. At the same time, the team pitched for the strategic project and kicked off the social class project. Within this setup, there is nowhere to hide. Due to the need to be effective and to face so many different personalities in such a short time, you inevitably learn a lot about yourself and others, and how to ensure the right leadership is in place to get things done. I was impressed with the open-minded, self-reflecting, professional, and friendly attitude of all these different people throughout this process. This transformation process was like a wave: Sometimes you ride it, and sometimes it rides you…
MCT #1: It feels like a family.
Now it’s done and dusted: We’ve delivered all assignments, the strategic projects have been judged, and our playgrounds for the world social class project have been funded. Welcome to Mannheim Palace to receive our degrees and throw our mortarboards, as tradition dictates. This feels so good!
However, it is sad that I won’t meet all these very familiar people on a regular basis anymore, and that I won’t have any more courses to prepare me for the unexpected. “It is not an end, it is a beginning,” said Prof. Wüstemann in his graduation speech. He may be right. Now, it is about putting all we have learned in context and reality.
The program has made me curious about the world, about opportunities, and especially about people. I am ready to be impressed, are you?
The ESSEC & MANNHEIM Executive MBA Class of 2018
Dejan Miletic, Mannheim Executive MBA Class of 2017
“Thanks to the tools and methods I learned during the program, I can recognize opportunities and estimate risks much better. I feel much more confident and a better leader. With the Mannheim Executive MBA, I got so much more than I expected – an amazing network of peers, tangible and applicable knowledge, a powerful career boost – and all with a ROI of just two years.”
My goal was to develop myself further. I wanted to close gaps in my professional knowledge, extend my network, and thus speed up my career. Before deciding in favor of Mannheim, I had a look at London Business School (LBS) and Eli Broad College of Business at MSU – Michigan State University, USA. It was the atmosphere at MBS, the timetable, the clear and structured program, and the possibility to talk to alumni and attend a class free of charge before admission that made up my mind. Other arguments that sweetened the deal were the price of the Executive MBA at MBS and the German tax system.
Thanks to the tools and methods I learned during the program, I can recognize opportunities and estimate risks much better. I feel much more confident and a better leader. Recognizing my development as an executive, my company increased their trust in me and gave me more responsibility. One year after graduation I got promoted and am now leading sales units on three continents.
It is hard to single out just a few experiences as there were so many valuable lessons and encounters. But the first things that come to mind are the outdoor leadership training and the strategic project: The former because of the simple and yet so powerful takeaways, and the latter because of the lessons learned.
My personal highlights were definitely my classmates and professors. I was privileged to learn and work with amazing people.
With the Mannheim Executive MBA, I got so much more than I expected – an amazing network, tangible and applicable knowledge, a powerful career boost – and all with a ROI of just two years.
Carolina Astorga, ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA Class of 2018
“I saw the ESSEC & MANNHEIM program as an eye-opening learning experience essential for my mid-career recalibration. I believed that being part of a world-class program at a number one business school in Germany and also one of the most international programs would surely enable me to pursue my goals. Therefore, stepping outside of my comfort zone seemed to be the way forward. Indeed, ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA program was the right thing to do!”
Capitalize on your uniqueness and challenge yourself to become a better YOU
Carolina has a background in engineering and has worked in the mining industry for more than 13 years. She has traveled the world and lived in the Indonesian jungle. She moved to Germany with her young family and after working freelance for a while, she decided to pursue an EMBA simultaneously with her husband. They have four children. Carolina is now fully back on track pursuing a senior management position in a conglomerate in Germany.
Under my particular circumstances, there are two questions people often ask me: “Why to pursue an EMBA?” and “How do I strive to achieve my goals?”
As for my reasons to pursue an Executive MBA, I always give the same answer: It was the right thing to do and the right time for me. Let me elaborate now a little bit further. I found myself in the most pivotal years of my career after taking a career break to raise my children abroad. I looked to boost my capabilities and to enrich, broaden, and deepen my perspectives and skills in the realm of leadership and management.
An MBA was also part of my long-term plan. I saw the ESSEC & MANNHEIM program as an eye-opening learning experience essential for my mid-career recalibration. I believed that being part of a world-class program at a number one business school in Germany and also one of the most international programs would surely enable me to pursue my goals. Therefore, stepping outside of my comfort zone seemed to be the way forward. Indeed, ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA program was the right thing to do!
On the other hand, it was just the right time. Together with my professional needs, after preparing myself and my loved ones for the new challenges, I was willing and in a strategic position that enabled me to balance work and personal life while investing a large amount of my time into an MBA program to make this project succeed.
However, developing three main activities simultaneously – working mother and student – was not easy. Inevitably, at some point in time problems arise. At times when the mess shows up I allocate my priorities and energy very consciously. Both perspective and balance are key. I am true to my values and I know my goes and no-goes very well. In this regard, my power sources play a role because I believe that we deserve to enjoy as much as possible.
This mindset doesn’t only allow me to focus when challenges arise, but I would say that it is the basis when striving to achieve my goals. To start with, I believe that setting the right goals is a must. They must be both realistic and worthy. I invest significant time to look carefully at the initiatives I commit with: They must be part of my bigger picture, my long-term plan. Apart from that, I don’t have any secrets or shortcuts. I face my targets with a resolute mind, hard-working hands, and a hopeful heart.
At the end of my ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA journey, I can tell that this experience enabled me to grow and develop skills above and beyond my original academic motives. Additionally, its international set-up also exposed me to significant diversity, which contributed to me getting the most from the experience. Coping with the workload and studying in parallel with both a professional and a family life was both challenging and enriching. However, the human factor is by far the biggest takeaway for me. During the program, an entire complex learning process, both as individuals and as a group, took place.
Life itself is a journey; let’s try to make the best of it. Capitalize on your uniqueness and challenge yourself to become a better YOU.
Nadja Scherer, ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA Class of 2018
“Doing an MBA is not only about learning new things, getting to meet new people, and developing personally. It is also about giving back: Giving back some of the knowledge, involvement, money, expertise, and support that we have been fortunate enough to experience, receive, or achieve in our lives. An MBA is also about giving back to society. In particular, through the Social Class Project, which is an important pillar of the ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA program.”
ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA 2018 Social Class Project
Our class decided to support a German NGO called Playgrounds for the World. This is a very small NGO with the ambitious goal to support children in much less privileged countries than Germany or France. They do so with playing and learning facilities. If possible, they utilize local staff, materials, and support to not only provide help but also establish the project in the respective community. Being ourselves a class and also “going back to learning”, we felt it was a wonderful idea to support young children on their way to a first education. It made and still makes sense to me that a class of dedicated learners should choose such a purpose for its Social Class Project. Playgrounds for the World’s slogan from Friedrich Schiller, “Der Mensch ist nur da ganz Mensch wo er spielt,” says it all.
Knowing that the combination of family life, a new job, and the MBA would be quite demanding, and having built a community project in my home town that connects refugees and locals, I knew up front that time is not only a student’s but also a voluntary worker’s scarcest resource. This made the extraordinary personal engagement of some of our classmates even more valuable.
In terms of concrete support, we helped Playgrounds for the World by collecting donations, both personal and corporate. Our class organized several very successful dinners and conferences in Paris and Mannheim: Either the ticket price itself was the donation or guests were asked to make donations for Playgrounds for the World during the event.
Quite a few of us have decided to continue supporting Playgrounds for the World: We leverage our little “corporate power” on the premise that a few hundred or thousand euro less in a corporate budget won’t change a company’s annual results, but will most certainly change a child’s life forever, especially since the opportunity to learn can change the fate of a child and its entire family. The class project itself is still ongoing and there will be more events to collect even more funds. As Tatjana Rhode, founder of Playgrounds for the World, put it: “Each contribution counts, be it little or big, and will change the life of that one little child somewhere in the world.”
Attila Huttera, ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA Class of 2018
“Our recent Advanced Immersion Module on Risk Management marked the final stage of our 18-month EMBA journey. Corporate Social Responsibility works hand in hand with Risk Management to combat the causes and effects of unforeseen events. We gained a comprehensive overview of how relational stakeholder governance, involving NGOs, government, communities, media, and industry associations, in addition to supplier and customer relations help reduce risks arising from uncertainty and insufficient contract coverage.”
A new start in the last EMBA module
Our recent Advanced Immersion Module on Risk Management marked the final stage of our 18-month EMBA journey. This last get-together of our class before graduation was in the brand-new Conference Center of Mannheim Business School beneath the chambers of the splendid Mannheim Palace.
A lesson on the impact of a vision: I remember Prof. Wüstemann, president of Mannheim Business School, envisioning and presenting an innovative study center that was about to be built. This was two years ago, during an EMBA Open Day event I attended. The site has now been completed, replacing the previous concepts and layouts with a ready-to-enter realm.
The course week was complemented with two networking events for participants from several MBS courses. On the first day, a joint lunch with our successors, the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA class of 2019, gave us the opportunity to exchange experiences and discuss the next steps to take during and after the study program. The event was augmented with presentations by the Honorary Consul of France in Mannheim and the Head of Cultural Urban Development encompassing projects for start-up centers, co-working spaces, and intercultural meeting points in Mannheim. During one of the evenings we were invited to Drinks & Drums, a networking event organized at Mannheim Palace for participants of the EMBA, MBA, and Taxation programs. While enjoying finger food, drinks, and conversation, a professional drumming team prompted us to swing our hips and show our own interpretation of rhythm.
But of course, the main purpose of the study week was to attend and benefit from the Risk Management lecture, which has been newly integrated into the EMBA program. In the first part, Prof. Ebert from the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management introduced contemporary concepts of financial risk assessment and corresponding hedging strategies. Since even experts and executives are prone to behavioral biases in financial decision-making, Prof. Ebert’s audiences typically comprise business schools alongside executive boards of big corporates like Deutsche Bank.
In the second part of the course, we elaborated with Prof. Bode how process and product complexity elicit supply chain risks, which impact operational fulfillment and reputation. Corporate Social Responsibility works hand in hand with Risk Management to combat the causes and effects of unforeseen events. We gained a comprehensive overview of how relational stakeholder governance, involving NGOs, government, communities, media, and industry associations, in addition to supplier and customer relations help reduce risks arising from uncertainty and insufficient contract coverage.
As our EMBA comes to an end, we have also taken the opportunity to draw conclusions on our joint effort, the Social Class project. Our “all hands on deck” philosophy engaged all members and leveraged our diversity. Our various academic, cultural, and personal backgrounds helped generate a huge range of ideas and initiatives for charitable events and fund raising, which we can be proud of in retrospect.
All said and done, we are now approaching the final countdown to the jury presentation of our entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial strategic projects, before being entitled to throw our hats in the air at the graduation ceremony.
(Group photo by Andrew Auseichyk)
Marina Safont Sempere, ESSEC & MANNHEIM EMBA Class of 2018
“Go ahead! It is fun; it is enriching; it takes you out of your comfort zone. You get to know great people and experience a very intense team spirit that is otherwise difficult to find. You will come out better prepared for your working life – and everything else too. In the program, with my classmates, there is no discrimination of any type: we are people who manage to have fun whatever our cultural background, religion or gender may be. We live and experience diversity at its best!”
What is your main motivation for an EMBA program?
I am a scientist and I have been working in science for a very long time (six years on the job and four years on my Ph.D.). When I started working after my Ph.D., I realized that my ability to make decisions in a corporate environment was limited due to my lack of business know-how. The question that repeatedly comes up whenever there is a new invention is: Is it economically viable? I realized that great technology without a good business plan, good marketing, the right customer orientation, and the right contacts cannot be successful.
For me as a scientist, the MBA program was a great opportunity to broaden my skillset and get a broad overview of all the important aspects of business and the most relevant issues in leadership management. I wanted to achieve a better understanding of all that is required to make a company work, and to differentiate myself from the many people around me by enhancing my profile in this direction.
Has it met your expectations so far? Has it already had an impact on your daily work and career?
So far, I have found the program to be very enriching. I am really quickly getting an overview of many important aspects of business and leadership that I can directly apply in my working environment. I wanted to prepare myself for the next step in my career: to move into a more business-oriented position. In fact, during my MBA I had the opportunity to change from R & D to product management and new business development in the inorganics division within BASF, and the MBA was a clear enabler for me to be able to take this step and take advantage of this exciting opportunity.
Now I really enjoy my new job, getting to experience what I learn in class and being able to add some value to my unit by applying what I am learning. My new job is fun and I feel really fulfilled being able to contribute with my new skills. It is also exciting to learn and live what daily business means, the contact with customers, and marketing in the various regions. Without the MBA, I probably would not have got this position so fast. It has so far already proven to be worth it.
How do you manage to juggle your job, the study workload, and private life?
I have no kids, so one of things that motivate me is to see my colleagues with kids and high-responsibility jobs, and realize how well they manage. They are an inspiration to me. I guess everyone getting into such a program is ready to sacrifice their free time and put in a lot of effort to progress. It is hard to spend weekends and evenings after work reading, preparing assignments, and making calls to coordinate the different tasks with your team. But it is also gratifying to see how things progress and that we deliver good work in our teams.
The most difficult part for me is being able to disconnect: I ALWAYS have something to do – work, class, social life! So my stress level sometimes goes through the roof. But this is also part of learning, being able to multitask, deliver and be efficient, and being able to have fun between one thing and another.
What advice would you give other women thinking of doing an EMBA?
Go ahead! It is fun; it is enriching; it takes you out of your comfort zone. You get to know great people and experience a very intense team spirit that is otherwise difficult to find. You will come out better prepared for your working life – and everything else too. I guess I would say the same to a guy if he were to ask me. In the program, with my classmates, there is no discrimination of any type: we are people who manage to have fun whatever our cultural background, religion or gender may be. We live and experience diversity at its best!
Shuang Han, MANNHEIM & TONGJI Executive MBA, Class of 2016
“Just like the final miles of a marathon, my final thesis will be the greatest challenge. However, all the training - the accumulated knowledge and skills - throughout the program, will now produce results. I look forward to celebrating my graduation in summer 2018!”
The journey is coming to an end
The operations module is my last module of the MANNHEIM & TONGJI Executive MBA program and the final study trip to Shanghai, China.
Before this module, I had already completed the marketing, strategy and finance modules, among others. All these business areas are dependent on and involved in daily operations. Therefore, the MANNHEIM & TONGJI EMBA program establishes this unique operations module as a basis and critical element of the program for executives to understand how to run and improve the execution of their daily business. The operations module includes: corporate governance by Prof. Kenneth Kim, a leading subject expert worldwide; strategic performance management by Prof. Chris Chan, Ivey Business School, with more than 19 years’ consulting and executive education experience; operations and supply chain management by Prof. Manpreet Hora, US, with diverse industrial operations experiences; and information systems by Prof. Carol Hsu, Tongji University.
Information systems class, operations and supply chain class
Corporate governance class
Again, this is a quite intensive module with a large volume of assigned reading, group work and pre- and post-assignments. However, I found it is very helpful to get an overview of the key principles, concepts, best practices, etc. in various aspects of daily operations. All professors are experts in their research areas, with very diverse industrial backgrounds and educational experiences. For instance, Prof. Kim is one of the top researchers in corporate governance, now the leading expert worldwide and co-author of a best-selling book on corporate governance. His lectures cover the broad perspectives of corporate governance including that of accountants, auditors, executive incentives, boards, investors, shareholders, etc. with many real industrial cases. Due to the unique Sino-German business focus of the MANNHEIM & TONGJI EMBA program, Prof. Kim also spent half a day discussing the details of corporate governance in China and sharing his experience of it over the last 10 years.
Group work preparation
Prof. Hsu introduced an innovative app called “POP – Prototyping on Pager”, used for developing new digital prototype designs, in her information systems class. This app simply and quickly transfers a business idea from paper into a working demo with an interactive user interface. Program participants used this app in the group assignment and developed their ideas into an application within a few clicks. After presenting core business ideas in a working demo application, each group could collect feedback immediately. The app allows each group to quickly modify their applications based on this feedback. After several iterations, the business idea and related features were dramatically improved to be closer to customer and market requirements.
An example presented in POP
The company visits are always my favorite part of each study module. This time we visited the SAIC Volkswagen production plant, the Shanghai Motor Vehicle Inspection Center and the Intelligent Connected Vehicle Innovation Center in Anting, Shanghai. Company representatives presented the history of SAIC Volkswagen, a site plan, its current status, future challenges, etc. We then also visited the production line of several car models produced by SAIC Volkswagen. Finally, we sat together with program alumni, well-known industrial scholars and Anting government officials in an open forum and were inspired by speeches about alumni start-ups and entrepreneurship, Anting’s current position and long-term innovation plan, and automotive industry trends.
SAIC Volkswagen visit
An EMBA is definitely not only about hard work, but also a lot of fun. Shanghai is the most developed economic center of China. It has a huge variety of restaurants, bars and cafes. After a day of lectures, group work and assignments, it is very important to be able to relax in the city.
Shanghai, China, after class
Between September 2016 and September 2017, a total of six modules, more than 60 days’ study leave, more than 70 presentations, assignments and group-work activities, meetings with more than 60 executives with diverse industry backgrounds, etc. were split between Mannheim, Germany, and Shanghai, China. During the same period, a few classmates encouraged me to start running. In total, over more than 330 hours I ran close to 3,500 km and lost 20 kg. All of these were great experiences I had in the last 12 months that I could never have imagined before. All stem from my initial decision to start the MBS MANNHEIM & TONGJI EMBA program. I enjoyed this journey immensely!
Just like the final miles of a marathon, my final thesis will be the greatest challenge. However, all the training - the accumulated knowledge and skills - throughout the program, will now produce results. I look forward to celebrating my graduation in summer 2018!
Jörg Bruch, Mannheim EMBA Class of 2014
"One major motivation to do an Executive MBA was to fundamentally learn all the theories, tools, and skills that are relevant in business life. To me, choosing the Mannheim EMBA was a natural choice – first because it is the best business school in Germany and one of the best in Europe; second due to the proximity to my current hometown Heidelberg; last but not least due to the interesting curriculum."
When Jörg Bruch started his career with SAP SE, he held a degree in biology and geography, but had no formal education related to his business life. In order to fill this gap after more than ten years of work experience, he decided to join the Mannheim EMBA program:
"One major motivation to do an Executive MBA was to fundamentally learn all the theories, tools, and skills that are relevant in business life. To me, choosing the Mannheim EMBA was a natural choice – first because it is the best business school in Germany and one of the best in Europe; second due to the proximity to my current hometown Heidelberg; last but not least due to the interesting curriculum."
Bruch values the impact his MBA degree has made on his business life:
"The learnings are really helpful in my day-to-day business life, now having a solid background in Corporate Finance, Financial Accounting and many other disciplines. I also found myself reconfirmed in my leadership role, not only within my company but in a group of other executives from different companies and industries with really diverse backgrounds. Finally making so many new connections to other executives, not only in my class but through the Alumni network of MBS also to many others, is a real value in itself."
Bruch's biggest take-away from the Mannheim EMBA program:
"A kind of 'I can do' attitude – going 'back to school,' managing all the lectures and assignments besides my normal work and eventually graduating after eighteen months was a great re-confirmation that I can still learn very efficiently and that I can achieve something great. Also the Entrepreneurial Project was a really changing experience that is hard to gain in a corporate environment. Keeping this entrepreneurial thinking for my work in a corporate environment alive is definitely something that puts the question of value in the center of the work."
While before the degree, his daily business was mainly operational and related to budgets, processes and formal HR topics, Jörg Bruch took on additional responsibility after his MBA - first as Vice President and COO of a large development unit within SAP and now as Head of IT Operations, responsible for the operation of all SAP business systems worldwide.