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Grow personally and professionally by pursuing an MBA: Advantages & reflections
Part-time MBA / 26 February 2024
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Part-time MBA Class of 2021
Michael is an international business professional and American expatriate with over a decade of professional experience across multiple sectors and he has worked with clients, customers and colleagues in the NGO, consumer services, telecommunications, healthcare & life sciences, automotive and technology sectors. He is a proud graduate of the 2021 Part-time MBA programme at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.

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For me, studying at Frankfurt School was a win — not only did the Part-time MBA programme offer several courses in cutting-edge topics, but it culminated in a challenging project whereby I could apply newly sharpened skills and establish expertise in a new industry. Here, I would like to share the advantages of pursuing an MBA and some reflections on my journey.

Advantages

Industry network

I began my study with a core goal of expanding my industry knowledge through hands-on experience. Coming from the services sector, the FS’s network in the technology and startup space was a huge draw.

More than a degree

A part-time MBA can be considered a powerful lever, offering deep knowledge transfer in various topics and providing a self-managed laboratory where students can explore new opportunities and gain deep insights into the factors driving business change.

Specialisation

To support professional growth, the programme’s setup was designed to let students specialise in one or more of three key areas: finance, management and technology.

Courses in each specialisation grouping were taught by top-notch professors, who were often leading research in their fields. Furthermore, this was supplemented by co-students whose expertise, business experiences, and further insights were shared with one another throughout our studies. Truly, we each became colleagues as we tackled many group projects and supported one another throughout the entire programme.

I chose to specialise in leadership and technology to better understand and apply current academic and real-world thinking to areas I have studied and worked in. This included taking courses on topics such as new product development, digitalisation and project management; I even managed to obtain additional post-nominal credentials enabled by continuing education in project management.

Challenge & collaboration

Following focused courses enabling expertise in our chosen fields, each cohort member prepared for the big deliverable at the end of the programme – the master thesis.

More than simply an academic master thesis, we were each encouraged to leverage our existing business networks to find the most interesting project, applying our newly gained course knowledge to support a company operating in a field or industry we were interested in.

Our team of three – shown in the header image – formed around a key connection of one of our teammates and worked with a European tech startup delivering a proprietary SaaS in contract management. Throughout the thesis research period, we met weekly with the CEO for knowledge exchange and to better understand how the business operated, their goals and how we could help them meet their objectives.

This capstone project was aided by an overseeing professor, who would offer seasoned insight and actively counsel students on how to set and meet their own milestones for delivering the project. In our case, we were mentored by Prof. Dr. Lars Baumann, FS professor, Deputy Mayor of the city of Hannover and an expert in agile software development, who helped us understand our client organisation’s needs accurately.

Our final deliverable was a research-based consulting proposal focused on business development. Our team chose to perform market research by reading qualitative and quantitative research studies, conducting surveys, and holding interviews with professional contacts in the biotech/healthcare, finance, and consumer goods verticals.

As a final step, our team — forged in Frankfurt, Germany — met in the south of Spain with our partner organisation to present our findings and deliver our final recommendation. This ‘thesis defence’ was a business presentation designed to unpack our research on the cross-industry business development environment and finally to successfully present our findings to the partnering organisation.

Reflections and tips

As a final recommendation to those considering or already pursuing an MBA, start with the end in mind. If your goal is to get experience in an area, field, or industry that you are unfamiliar with, use the culminating opportunity of a master thesis project to apply yourself and become a well-rounded professional, or dive even deeper into an area in which you are already an expert.

Reflect and collaborate

To be most effective, you must work with people who can make you better. Pursuing an MBA is not only a great occasion to make friends but also a great opportunity to gain insight into perspectives you haven’t considered.

Pro tip: list the strengths and weaknesses you (personally) bring to the table and find teammates who can complement your weaknesses and support your strengths.

Become an expert

Start your MBA journey by exploring and learning about what is important to the industries and fields in which you are [interested in] working. Read studies, books, and articles, and familiarise yourself with what concerns your target area.

Food for thought: who are the key influences operating in this space? What are the factors affecting growth? What are the major challenges affecting organisations and leaders? What are the key technologies and other realities driving change?

Plan ahead

Understanding that your final ‘test’ is a hands-on, real-world project, structure your coursework to round out your understanding, gain new skills, sharpen existing ones and build a practical knowledge base. Consider areas where there is an opportunity to perform research and reach out early to find the right partners.

Studying the Part-time MBA programme at FS was an action-packed experience offering a breadth of current business knowledge and real-world application. It’s an incredible time to build your professional self and connect with those you can support and, of course, who can also support you!

Identify what you want to accomplish, take courses, make friends, connect with business partners and, finally, execute through the master thesis.

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