Business Education

Mannheim, Business School

Mannheim Full-Time MBA  April 30, 2023 – 08:25 am

Why an MBA?

As a working professional from the Telecoms industry, I had often faced challenges in terms of knowing how investing decisions are usually made at the top level. Sensing the opportunity, I knew an MBA was important for me to gain important financial skills, to better justify "numbers" in the future. Having met others who have also done an MBA, I received strong encouragement from senior colleagues who not only highlighted the value of technical knowledge, but also the broader knowledge of the wider world, as well as the richness of their experience. As my seniors said, "having long-term friends and sharing once in a lifetime moments", was something more intangible which I personally sought in the program. The Mannheim MBA is not only about theory, but it's also about networking. While the program may still be rather young, the Mannheim network provides a personal relationship to highly specialized individuals, which would help in the future.

Preparation and Kick-Off week

Honestly, my arrival to Mannheim was not the smoothest. Three days before I left for Mannheim, I was still working in my company and having back-to-back meetings regarding the handover of a key COO-level project. My last working day at Singapore's leading cable TV provider and telecom operator ended on a Wednesday. I collected my visa on Thursday and left immediately on Friday evening, right into the pre-course Financial Accounting class on Saturday morning. To top it off, I also had to stay with a fellow classmate for the next two weeks as my room was not ready. While that seemed exciting and hair-raising last minute, I certainly would recommend making preparations in advance! It would be better to understand your environment, and learn German to make the transition easier.

following kick-off week gave me the opportunity to finally meet my classmates, and it was interesting to speak with people who came from Russia, India and Brazil, and the kick off week provided that opportunity to build relationships with people who would be with you for the next year. I also learned more about European geography – e.g. I didn't know where the Ukraine was until I came here!

It was also really interesting to understand the career and personal objectives of my classmates. Most came to enhance their business and finance skills, others came to take a break to learn what they really wanted out of their careers. There were some who came for their better half, and there were also two mothers in our class! I found this diversity of backgrounds really inspiring.

First Term

I opted for the German track specifically to focus on the German market, and to get as much exposure as possible. After the kick off week, some classmates had left for the first semester abroad. For those who remained, the core courses of Financial Accounting, Marketing, Strategic Management, Corporate Finance and Macroeconomics came up next. With 6 weeks of coursework per module, it was certainly intense and we also had to manage German classes in the evenings. My recommendation here would be for future candidates to focus on German perhaps even before the first semester, and to have good time management especially during group discussions. There is always a risk to run off-track, and while late-nights and working weekends are the norm for most MBA programs, my personal advice would be to focus on key items and spend time efficiently. It would be better to learn German whenever possible, and to also show up for the frequent company events offered during the Mannheim MBA.

We also had the option to select our electives during this period, and I consulted the Program Management for their advice pertaining to my career focus, which was marketing and finance. Mannheim Business School offered a wide range of courses, ranging from hard skills in finance to soft managerial skills such as HR and cross-cultural management. Being still rather junior in my experience, my strategy here would be to beef up my hard skills. For more senior individuals with more business experience, the soft-skills electives might be a better choice.

Second and Third Term

The second and third term consisted of mainly one week courses – shorter, but more intense. My daily schedule comprised German lessons after classes, rushing back to finish up on project work with groupmates through the night (revising as we go along before Friday's exam), and attending company networking events. Adding on, I had to juggle between applications to graduate programs and business plan competitions. And oh, not to forget waking up at 5:30 am every two weekdays to make it to the rowing club in the cold! Term 2 and 3 really took a lot of time planning.

Yet, one has to really find time to relax. I remembered on two occasions, actually finishing exams on Friday and rushing off with luggage from the ECD to join my classmates on ski trips! We even had a bachelor party in Amsterdam for two of our classmates, all squeezed between our elective courses!

Business Plan Competitions and Networking

Use every opportunity to attend every company event and network, network, network. It's important not only in applications, but to build your own credibility in the industry you are in. On average, there is an event every two weeks, and it gives an opportunity to learn more about the industry and the business. I had the chance here to meet some senior executives from DHL, Roche, MVV and Freudenberg.


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