An investment that pays off: the part-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) opens up new professional perspectives for academics.
When talking to graduates of a part-time MBA program, there are two things which keep coming up: yes, it is a challenge, and yes, I would do it all over again. A part-time MBA often means completing a challenging program in one or two years while keeping on top of an already demanding job.
The program is tailored to executives and candidates working in middle management, who are highly motivated and wish to expand the training they have had so far with the latest management knowledge and/or are striving for a career in management. “We teach a basic understanding of leadership and management,” says Petra Spanka, Senior Manager for Student Recruitment at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management. “The students do not necessarily have to learn how to prepare a balance sheet but they should be able to understand it and learn which measures have which effect.” This is particularly interesting to candidates who have no or very little background in business administration. Those wishing to ascend to top-level management need this kind of knowledge.
Income increases by more than 60 percent
The students enrolled in the part-time MBA program at HHL are, on average, 34 years old. Many of them have a family or are in the process of starting one. Studying means an additional responsibility. However, it pays off: HHL’s part-time MBA program reached top ranks for career development in a ranking by the Financial Times. Graduates can expect salary increases of more than 60 percent.
In addition to the professional qualification, the participants also appreciate the personal development that comes with an MBA. Those, who manage to study on the job, show ambition and organizational talent. This makes the part-time MBA a career booster. “The MBA predestines a fresh start for people,” says Petra Spanka. Working in teams, students often get new ideas and start their own businesses after graduating. Others use their degree to steer their career in a new direction. “Humanists or architects, for instance, have a wonderful combination with the MBA. The can refocus their professional goals and approach new companies.”
A network for life
The current class at HHL consists of mathematicians, physicians as well as sport and media scientists, among others, representing nine different countries. These various backgrounds create a special learning environment for the part-time MBA program. The students contribute their specific experience while applying what they have learned in their everyday working life. “Engineers think of unconventional solutions, humanists learn to establish their creativity on a solid financial basis,” explains Spanka. Spending intensive hours together, the students form networks which span across industries and last their whole lives.
In addition to investing time, the MBA also means investing money. The part-time program has the great benefit that participants can stay on their jobs, avoiding loss of income and writing off all costs relating to the studies (including tuition fees and travel expenses) on their taxes. The classes at HHL take place on eight or nine weekends per academic year. The school supports outstanding applicants with scholarships. The tuition fees are also eligible for funding from the European Social Fund (ESF).
To balance everything, it helps to find a business school which responds to the students’ individual needs. “Being a relatively small university, we can offer very personal services,” explains Petra Spanka. “If, for example, the students have to go on a business trip or finalize an important project on the job, we will try to come up with an alternative for them. We can find individual solutions. This is very important to students who have a job.”
“My career advancement opportunities have increased”
Senior Manager, GfK
“As a matter of principle, I am striving for a leadership position. Thanks to the MBA program, the prospects of professional promotion have improved significantly. My employer sees that I am ambitious and want to continue to learn. He appreciates how I handled this double burden and developed my skills and competencies. I previously completed an interdisciplinary Romance language and literature studies program with a qualification in Economics at the University of Mannheim, with half of the classes covering business administration. After several years on the job, I realized that the basic knowledge was not enough for me.
The MBA helped me to better comprehend the key financial figures. I have also developed a better understanding of strategy and entrepreneurship. When an internal change management process was pending, I was familiar with the steps and terms, which allowed me to get involved.
Time management was the greatest obstacle. The residential weekends were rather difficult when the job was particularly stressful. However, HHL takes personal circumstances into consideration. I started my family while completing the MBA. I was able to shift classes and postpone my Master thesis.
I can recommend the part-time MBA program to all humanists who have or wish to take on management tasks in companies or cultural institutions. Even without in-depth knowledge of economics, you will be integrated very well because the professors’ instruction has a strong practical relation. I would absolutely do it all over again.”
“I can see eye to eye”
Head of Legal, Pirelli Deutschland
“The MBA allows me to be a better lawyer. The legal department should not only approve or decline projects but must be able to offer alternatives as a productive business partner. My colleagues do not want to know what does not work but how it can work and what options there are. For this purpose, I have to understand corporate decisions and processes. As Head of Legal, I serve as a strategic adviser. When the company considers cooperation or restructuring, my department is included at a very early stage. In the past, I had to rely on what the other colleagues told me. Today, I can see eye to eye with the executive board or other department heads on a professional level. I understand what they do. I am able to evaluate balance sheets, develop strategies also from an economic point of view and simply ask more specific questions. I am a competent partner.
While completing the part-time program at HHL, I also met people from a variety of companies, positions and stages in life that I might not have met otherwise. With only about 30 students, our group was relatively small. We experienced an intensive time together. Today, I can call my classmates any time and vice versa. We have a network that is not just purpose-oriented.
It was a very rewarding time overall. Sometimes, you read a book that inspires and changes you. This is what happened to me every month in the two years at HHL. I find this kind of personal development extremely important because it is the only thing that allows for professional development as well. I realized I can learn what I want. The MBA program is very ambitious; I often sat for many hours after work studying and learned to get by with even less sleep, but it was worth it. On a professional level, the MBA was the best decision I ever made.”
“The MBA opened gates”
Communication Real Estate Investment Management, Credit Suisse AG
“The part-time MBA opened many gates for me to re-enter the job market in an appropriate position. I had moved from Switzerland to Germany for family reasons. It was not easy to gain a foothold here because people focused very strongly on what my first degree was. I had originally studied Architecture at ETH Zurich. In Leipzig, I added the MBA. This degree was well-received when I returned to Switzerland.
Today, I am responsible for marketing and communication with regard to real estate funds in the field of real estate investment management at Credit Suisse AG. Here, I can combine economics and architecture. Among other things, I am on the project team of the firm’s first international product for foreign investors. For many of colleagues, this is unchartered territory as the core business of real estate investment management up to now was successfully conducted solely in Switzerland. The MBA allows me to ask specific questions and, as a consequence, to find and connect with the right contact people within the bank and the subsidiaries. The Communication, Change Management and Leadership classes gave me a lot of food for thought for my current job. Our new team was put together with people from all over the world and various professional backgrounds. What I learned on the program allows me to recognize and use the different perspectives.
The part-time MBA also taught me to handle stressful situations, which is extremely important as well. Just like swimming, this is not something you can learn in theory. The program is very compact time-wise. You have to prepare and review the weekends. Then there is also the job and family. You learn to structure yourself, set priorities and handle the pressure. I have not regretted it. The MBA was a stepping stone, also financially. The investment of time and money definitely paid off.”
5 reasons why the part-time MBA pays off
Career boost: The MBA opens gates into top-level management. Companies appreciate the graduates’ professional and personal development.
Broadened horizons: The students come from different countries and industries and contribute their expert knowledge.
Network: The students bond over their intensive studies. They develop international, inter-sectoral networks – and sometimes new business ideas.
Salary increase: The students can expect an increase in salary of over 60 percent after completing the MBA.
Soft skills: Multiple responsibilities on the job, at university and in the family train time management and efficient working.