Pia Fischhuber and Yeonjoo Kim are both recipients of the WHU Female Founders Scholarship this year, starting their Master in Entrepreneurship studies in August 2018. The WHU Female Founders Scholarship is a unique opportunity for passionate female students who want to have an impact on the German and international business ecosystems. Bringing together the latest business knowledge, technology, and tools, we built a program to equip our students to excel in innovation, whether in their own start-up or the wider business environment.
What attracted you to WHU’s Master in Entrepreneurship?
Pia: I’m interested in start-ups and modern technology, and this program supports both. The focus on general management topics such as accounting in combination with courses to develop an applicable entrepreneurial skillset made WHU stand out amongst all the other schools I looked into.
Yeonjoo: As I studied a non-business subject for my Bachelor degree, I wanted to do a Master’s focusing on entrepreneurial business. WHU was my first choice due to its emphasis on practical knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit.
What do you enjoy about being in an entrepreneurial environment?
Pia: During the course so far, I’ve experienced an environment characterized by spirit, ambition, and creativity. I find this a hugely motivating setting in which to think about new ideas on a daily basis. Everyone in our cohort has their own individual background and skillset, making collaborating and learning together a lot of fun.
Yeonjoo: During the two weeks in Berlin I had the chance to meet founders and VCs from the WHU network and listen to their stories. Without this program, that opportunity was unimaginable.
What challenges do you think young women in business face?
Pia: In some areas women are extremely underrepresented, making it intimidating for those who have studied at a large university without many diverse group interactions. In the workplace the chance of having to make your voice heard amongst ambitious men is much higher. At WHU you are an integral part of the cohort – we are always encouraged to work together, making it a great preparation for the real business world.
Yeonjoo: In addition, there still aren’t many well-known female role models for young women to look up to.
Have you always wanted to have a career in business?
Pia: I initially did a double degree, providing the option to pursue a career in informatics or business. As a trainee at BP I was exposed to the business world early on, and discovered I really like the environment, especially in a role that sits on the interface between business and technology.
Yeonjoo: Before this program, I worked in HR for 3.5 years in international tech companies in South Korea. Originally, I considered studying organization behavior for my Master’s. Through a venture business at work I became interested in building a start-up, which is why I decided to change my career and come to WHU. My HR experience will always be important – dealing with conflicts and handling communication are essential skills for founders.
What have been the key takeaways from your first semester?
Pia: Different groups lead to different experiences and results. It’s a key success factor to find people that fit together, inspiring and trusting each other while having fun.
Yeonjoo: For me, it’s been learning about self-management. Besides study, we are also exploring our own business ideas, which requires the need to carefully manage ourselves and our time.
What impact are you hoping to have on the entrepreneurial ecosystem?
Pia: At the moment, women are underrepresented in the entrepreneurial landscape and I hope to have a positive impact on that in the future. In the meantime, I hope to encourage other women to pursue an entrepreneurial career.
Yeonjoo: I believe that being a female founder can already impact the entrepreneurial ecosystem positively in terms of diversity and fighting against biases in male-dominant business fields.
How are you finding the networking opportunities in the program?
Pia: The networking opportunities we are exposed to are fantastic. The professors and program managers make a big effort to connect us with founders and the VC scene in Berlin. The WHU network also offers events such as ideaLab! and career days, all of which are amazing opportunities.
Yeonjoo: The chance to meet these founders and companies wouldn’t be possible alone, and the program is offering multiple opportunities to listen closely to current start-up and VC experiences.
Are you enjoying collaborating with your class?
Pia: Yes, I really the enjoy the group projects we have, it’s always great fun working with everyone. I especially love that all the students are motivated and everyone has their own great set of skills and knowledge to contribute to every project.
Yeonjoo: Our class size means the group is closely bonded together. Every student has a different background, making the group interesting. It’s also valuable to experience how others approach the same assignments differently.
Why is the Master in Entrepreneurship a valuable program to pursue?
Pia: The program is valuable to anyone interested in pursuing a degree at an excellent institution. The courses provide students with a relevant skillset to work as an entrepreneur, but also in other fields such as consultancy and industry. It also exposes students to an amazing network and to become part of a diverse group of motivated individuals.
Yeonjoo: It doesn’t matter if you have a business idea or not, WHU can support you. The alumni network and close connection with the faculty will provide you with confidence in pursuing your career.