I am the CFO for the DACH branches of AIG Europe S.A., a company I have been working for almost 14 years, and which has taught me the relevance of the insurance industry and made me fall in love with an industry I had never aspired to work for.
Why the challenge?
There are many questions you can ask yourself, and at one point I started to wonder if I am asking myself the right questions. I have spent almost 14 years with the same great company, which always provided me with challenging and rewarding opportunities to grow. Nevertheless, I started to feel I had made my way into the comfort zone and questions like “Am I really as open minded as I think I am?” “Am I up to speed with global trends outside of my own industry and function?” “Have I pushed hard enough to gain new skills and perspectives?” started to come to mind.
I quickly figured out the honest answer was “no” and although I have definitely learned a lot in my career, I felt I needed some external triggers to help me develop. I wanted to work further on my commercial mindset and business acumen, gain a better understanding of different industries and companies, and also get feedback from different people around me. I strongly believe that you should never stop improving yourself, and this is what I wanted to pursue.
Managing classes, preparation and a full-time job
Starting an EMBA program seemed to be something that could help me address the above, but I had doubts whether I would be able to juggle a job, family and studies at the same time. I have a demanding job and often work long hours so I was unsure if lecture times, preparation and assignments could be integrated without risking performance at work. I have been lucky to be surrounded by people who encouraged me, and now being somewhat halfway through the program I learned that this can actually be done. I have to admit that it does not always work out easily and there are certainly days where I feel stressed but there are even many more days where I really feel energized by the Executive MBA, my additional challenge. My family have been extremely supportive. My husband and 10 year old son give me the room to explore this experience, but also a push from time to time.
A rewarding experience
After doing the EMBA for just over 6 months, it is already proving to be a rewarding experience. We have quickly built a stable network in the class, where we function as a team and support each other. Being surrounded by professionals from different industries, with experiences gained in blue chips, SMEs and startups has already turned out to be a good investment. When I started the journey I had totally underestimated the impact that my classmates would have on my personal and professional development. The price tag you could assign on this is quite big. Due to the program I have definitely added people to my network who will be a great source of advice, knowledge sharing and new ideas in the future.