Global Executive MBA alumna
What stages in your life have had the greatest impact on you and why?
The greatest impact has come from those moments when I had the courage to truly follow my heart and gut feeling, leading to decisions that are “insane” in the eyes of the vast majority of society. There were several.
Basically two influences have always shaped me particularly strongly: first, positive challenges which thereby shaped me and put me into new positions; and, second, people who served as role models for me, either positive or negative, in terms of how things should or should not be done.
Did you originally want to pursue a career in a different field? If so, why is it that nothing has come of your plans?
Yes, I had very romantic ideas! When I was about seven years old, I wanted to become a "researcher" for the first time. I had a wildly romantic image of researchers—David Livingstone, Indiana Jones and Jane Goodall all rolled into one. I wanted to visit foreign countries to discover something or someone. As a university student, I was lucky enough to be involved in some small-scale research projects. Because I was passionate about my research, I was successful at doing it, and, as a result of that, I got a job at the Academy of Sciences immediately after graduating. In reality, however, being a "researcher" was much less exciting to me than you would imagine. Most of the time you re-tell what you have experienced or discovered time after time in different formats. I realized, that starting new things and changing systems instead of describing them are much more exciting to me.
How and why did you come to work for OMV?
After five years in an executive job, I had the feeling, that I needed something new. At that time I had my own company, a small consultancy on change management and organizational development. So I quit my job and wanted to extend the company’s radius and to prevent feeling under-challenged I started with my MBA.
At the time, I came across OMV through a consultancy project they wanted to start and finally ended up with my current position. It took me some consideration to decide to join such a huge corporation and “lose” some of the freedom I had as an entrepreneur. But as it was to build something totally new, I was highly attracted.
What has changed in your career as a result of your MBA degree? How did the program support you in reaching your career goals? What concrete career opportunities have opened up for you?
My motivation for attending the Global Executive MBA was twofold. On the one hand, I had been working as a consultant for international companies such as Microsoft and Shell for many years without ever completing formal business training—a gap that I wanted to close. On the other hand, I was keen on broadening my horizons by learning in an international environment. I knew the MBA would provide me with a perfect opportunity to do all that.
The offer to work for OMV came during my MBA studies. It was not a direct result of my studies, but what I learned during that time made it for sure easier for me to adapt to the environment of such a huge international company. My peers and the networks I have gained access to through them are, without question, the assets I have benefited from the most. This has allowed me not only to learn a lot from my classmates, but also to build a network of excellent contacts. Whatever issue or question I am facing in my job, I always have somebody to provide an in-side-out perspective on the matter.
What was your biggest professional/personal success?
Each success is unique the moment you enjoy it. Some seem to be tiny, but can change an entire system and the way people do business. I am very fond of getting support from people regarding topics which they might not be supporting naturally. The greatest pleasure for me is always to experience how a former sceptic transforms into a real ambassador for a cause. I think this is why I focused on change management for several years.
Right now, I am happy about the fact that I have succeeded in establishing a completely new area that already produces positive results in a company employing 27,000 people. Getting leadership and workforce to support and pro-actively implement our sustainability strategy in more than 30 countries world-wide will keep me busy for a while.
What are your goals for the coming year? Your goals in general? Is there still something you absolutely want to do?
I am an avid traveler! To travel around the world is something, that I still have not done and for sure has to happen once in my lifetime. This also transforms quite well into my career perspectives, I always need to experience something new and be challenged to some extent.
What do you consider a “great luxury“?
Being free to decide for myself what to do and how to do it.
What was the last book/movie you really enjoyed?
Our financial accounting textbook for the MBA. (No, just kidding! Although it was a very good book, I wouldn't say that it was the greatest pleasure to read.)
Jokes aside: "This Book Will Save Your Life" by A. M. Homes. It is about an LA stock speculator who turns his life upside down and, in doing so, begins to realize what gives him pleasure. The story is not spectacular but very well written.
How would you characterize your philosophy of leadership? Has it been influenced by a leadership role-model?
As an executive, I think of myself as someone who helps others to do a good job by creating the right environment. This involves not only telling people clearly what they are expected to do, motivating them and supporting them, but also allowing them freedom to make their own decisions. In my opinion, being able to work independently and feeling appreciated are two of the most important factors of motivation for most people. Those for whom this is not true need somebody who tells them exactly what to do and makes decisions for them. Therefore, as an executive, you also need to be a good judge of character who knows how to best get different people involved.
How do you recharge your batteries when you are not pursuing your demanding career?
Travelling, nature and having time on my own are essential to me. Of course I also enjoy quality time with my friends or family. It is important to me that the activities I engage in provide a nice counterpoint to my daily routine: if my job requires me to sit at my desk for hours, I will spend time in nature; if I constantly have to talk with many people, I will meet a few close friends or enjoy my own company.
If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
It constantly changes. Currently, it would be an astronaut. She can travel to spaces no-one else has seen so far and has this great perspective from “above”. Moving in free space has to be very fascinating.
Why would you recommend the Global Executive MBA of the WU Executive Academy? What did you like the most?
The program as a whole leaves a lasting impression on you. Of course, everybody will find different aspects particularly valuable. I, for one, have strongly been influenced by the international residencies. They allowed us to look at countries such as Russia, India, China and the USA from a special perspective.
We gained deep insight into the ways of doing business (not only because of the topics we covered in class, but as a result of experiencing things on the ground and learning about taboos). It was very revealing, for instance, when people either did not answer certain questions or just dodged the subject with a related answer! As my peers came from countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia or Canada, to name but a few, they were often able to give an expert explanation of what was going on behind the scenes.