Vinicius Petroni, an executive at Eaton Corporation, a globally operating industrial company based in Ireland, as well as Kuralai Manasbayeva, Head of Finance and Accounting at automobile manufacturer Toyota, talk to Maximilian Hofmann (HHL) about their experiences in completing the part-time Global Executive MBA Program of German HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management and Spanish Escuela de Alta Dirección y Administración (EADA). During the interview, the 37-year-old U.S. citizen, who also holds Brazilian and Italian passports, and the 43-year-old Kazakh discuss topics such as internationality, networking, work-life balance as well as their personal experiences in the Neuro Training Lab, the special coaching offered as part of the international program for executives.
The Global Executive MBA Program of HHL and EADA has a strong international focus. Judging by your résumés, you are just as much internationally oriented. What are the main reasons why you chose this program?
Kuralai Manasbayeva: The program suits me very well as I work full time and do not want to give this up while studying. I also find the various study locations very interesting. They allow you to learn from other cultures, which is particularly important when you work for international company like myself. Moreover, I would like to expand my knowledge on the topics of management, strategy, marketing and finance. Although I work as a financial manager, that does not mean that I have learned everything – there are always new things to discover. I also view the Global Executive MBA as an especially profound, scientifically based, microeconomic management program.
Vinicius Petroni: My classmates’ great variety of nationality and backgrounds has definitely been an important aspect. Had I decided for an MBA program in the U.S., the class would certainly have been more homogenous and less diverse. I was consciously looking for a balanced mix of student backgrounds and this is exactly what this Global EMBA offers. Another major facet was the locations of the two universities. German and Spanish viewpoints tend to differ strongly from American ones. This opens the participants’ eyes to completely new perspectives. Moreover, the modules of the Global Executive MBA offer a great total package. In my opinion, the sum of all of these factors perfectly suits my long-term career goals.
How do you benefit from your classmates’ experience and the network?
Kuralai Manasbayeva: First and foremost, I enjoy studying together with exciting fifteen students from twelve countries from all over the world. I am glad that we get along so well and that it already feels like we have known each other for ages after only two weeks. There are no inhibitions to share knowledge and ideas and you can be sure that you will get help when you need it. Every day, you obtain a great amount of insight and benefit from other people’s experiences.
Vinicius Petroni: A very important and interesting aspect of diversity is that diversity in itself is useless. Only through inclusion does it turn into something good. Our team building process may have taken a little longer in the storming phase. But once you understand how your fellow human beings behave, how they contribute to the team and what perspectives they represent, you can start the integration process and, eventually, become a better executive. This is how every single person can benefit from the others in our group.
Let’s talk about work-life balance. What facets of the Global Executive MBA Program allow you to reconcile work, family and studies?
Vinicius Petroni: The number of modules was a deciding factor for me when choosing the program. I work in a full-time position, carry responsibility and there are always so many things to do. Therefore, it is important for me to not be absent from work for longer periods. The fact that the residential phases only take up one week per quarter was a great advantage. The periods between the modules give us the opportunity to expand on the things we learned in class. I use the time late at night and in the morning. The subject matter is not overwhelming and can be mastered without any major problems. This leaves enough time after hours for family, especially when you make good use of the time which you would normally spend in front of the TV. Moreover, my company fully supports me and the Global EMBA program, approving a few extra days off so that I do not have to use all my vacation days for completing the modules.
Kuralai Manasbayeva: Of course, it can be challenging to reconcile everything. However, my family, and my husband in particular, have shown great support for my Global EMBA studies. My children are almost grown up, which makes things a little easier. The modules were a deciding factor for me when I chose the Global Executive MBA Program as they allow me to plan ahead so that I can take care of important things relating to my work or personal life in advance.
Executive coaching sessions and workshops are an important part of the program. What was your experience with EADA’s Neuro Training Lab?
Vinicius Petroni: The Neuro Training Lab where we are able to play out real situations from the everyday life of an executives, is definitely an interesting experience. How do you react if things do not develop in the way you would like them to and how can you, as an executive, improve the situation? It was particularly interesting to have people around you in the Neuro Training Lab who observe how you handle certain situations. I found the insight I obtained here to be very helpful. It was recommended to me to get to the point faster in certain situations. I was advised to deliver my message more quickly sometimes, then to step back, talk less and let the other parties negotiate. I am already looking forward to more of these coaching sessions.
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