Earlier this year, the FIND MBA team went to three business schools in Europe to get insight about the MBA experience, directly from real MBA candidates. We interviewed eight students in total, from three European business schools: HEC Paris, Copenhagen Business School, and ESMT in Berlin.
The students we talked to came from all around the world, and had worked in a wide range of different industries and functional ares. For example, Tetyana Bazylevska, in Copenhagen Business School's MBA class of 2013, worked in finance in her home country Ukraine; while Junayd Mahmood, in ESMT's MBA class of 2013 is from the USA, and had previously worked in government and the nonprofit sector.
Most came to Europe looking for new skills, or to meet people and build business relationships. Impreet Natt, who had been working in marketing in Toronto, said she came to HEC Paris to “expand creativity, and develop a very broad, international network.”
Some decided to do an MBA to get a wider perspective after working in a single industry. Adeline Lee came to ESMT to build on her previous experience in the telecommunications industries in Thailand and Malaysia.
“Basically, I had already been working for close to seven years,” she says, “and the next logical step from my engineering degree into the business world was to do an MBA.”
“It's not a walk in the park”
One or two years in a full-time MBA program can be challenging, according to the students we talked to. “I knew it was going to be a lot of work this year, but I think even so, I was surprised at quite how much pressure we were under with different assignments,” says Luke Bywaters, a Copenhagen Business School MBA candidate.
“It's not a walk in the park,” agrees Junayd Mahmood. “You have one course right after another, and you're in class from nine to five each day and then you have group work and individual assignments as well.”
“You really have to be on top of your time management.”
In spite of the challenges, most MBA participants we talked to said that the benefits were worth it.
“Just the way I think changed a lot from what I was before,” says Tetyana Bazylevska, “and it's a positive change.”
Some students enjoy being exposed to new concepts in the classes they take. “I've taken some finance courses, organizational behavior courses – courses which I've never taken before, because I'm an engineering graduate,” says Adeline Lee.
“I find it very interesting, and there's so many things I'm taking in right now.”
And this kind of exposure to new concepts has given some students new ideas for future careers.
“I've come from pharmaceuticals and procurement,” says Luke Bywaters. “I'm starting to think about other manufacturing industries, and I'm looking at more of a change management” role, as well.
Impreet Natt was attracted by HEC Paris' strengths in the luxury goods sector (not to mention the school's location), but the since starting the MBA program has learned more about more specialized industries within the sector:
“Now I'm more moving into wine and spirits – that's an industry that I've become more interested in.”
Likewise, Adeline Lee says that the MBA experience at ESMT is shifting her away from her previous background in telecommunications, and now is inspired to launch her own business. “I aspire to be an entrepreneur,” she says, “and being in Berlin itself, and learning all these things, it just makes me feel like that's the right thing for me to do.”