In 2021, many business schools questioned how they could travel and still offer the international perspective that many students were missing. In November of the same year, the WHU MBA Program joined forces with the Kellogg School of Management to provide a new international module in Lisbon, Portugal. After a long period of uncertainty during the pandemic, students could finally participate in networking events, company visits, and socialize with their peers. We speak to Amie and David from the Part-Time MBA Class of 2021, who gives us an insight into the module abroad.
As Senior Lead for Strategic Development at online fashion platform Zalando, half-Scottish half-Dutch Amie joined the MBA looking to broaden her perspective. “I studied neuroscience and psychology, and work in strategy, so I have a strong understanding of how people work. The desire for the MBA came from me realizing that despite this, I had no real understanding of how business works. I wanted to feel more confident in my role and to understand the bigger picture.”
After being encouraged by her boss to take the plunge, Amie chose the part-time program to apply what she was learning directly to her daily work. “My career at the company excelled during my studies. If I had left for the Full-Time MBA and then returned, I don’t think my career would have progressed at the same speed. My employer recognized the commitment I made and that I was utilizing what I learned in the classroom to my role.”
Despite managing the impact of the pandemic during their studies, Amie was finally able to attend the international module in Lisbon. “The module was split across professors with different topics. One was intellectual capital management on patents and trademarks and how to profit from your ideas.
The second was experiential learning with a wine company. We had a company tour, and the owner introduced his company and how it was established. We then worked on a case on how to support him in selling wine in Germany as someone who has no knowledge of the German market. They don’t know the language, so where do you start? How do you position a brand and strategy for entering a new market? It was the perfect combination of learning and networking, as well as having some fun together too.”
David is an R&D Manager who works in Aachen for Saint-Gobain, a manufacturer and distributor of construction materials. He also felt that he was missing a greater understanding of business and looked to the MBA to fill this gap. “I work in hardware development, and there are different aspects of the company that needs to be aligned to bring a new device to the market. I wanted to understand these different parts such as sales and marketing and the role they play in the process.”
For David, his focus was mainly on digital strategy and finance. However, as the program progressed, he was surprised by the impact that entrepreneurial thinking had on him. “WHU has an incredible ecosystem to support founders. For example, I had the chance to participate in a legal boot camp for entrepreneurs, which can save you a lot of time in the early stages of a start-up. It’s very inspiring to see that it is possible to be a successful founder and meet some of these founders in WHU’s numerous lectures, workshops, and events. It made me change my focus and how I approached my career.
I am very grateful that I was part of the international module in Lisbon. The academic part included learning how to systematically use intellectual capital to create value for your company. This was incredibly eye-opening for me. As someone who works in R&D, it was refreshing to consider how we could use our patents to generate a competitive advantage beyond their expiration.”
Like Amie, David also adds that meeting with others enriched the experience. “We missed a lot of networking during the pandemic, so it was invaluable to have this opportunity and meet our peers from the Full-Time MBA and Kellogg. The whole experience was unique and memorable. One night we had dinner cooked by one of the juries of the Portuguese MasterChef reality show. The hotel where we were staying was formerly a palace. There was even filming of an American TV show, Vampire Academy, going on while there. I got the chance to get up close and personal with Hollywood actors. It was an incredible experience overall.”