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Career Story: Stephan Schuster, Royal BAM Group

04/19/2018

Professional MBA Finance alumnus

What stages in your life have had the greatest impact on you and why?

In the course of earning my first degree in business administration in Germany, I spent a combined total of approximately two years studying in Austria, Estonia and the U.S.A. Each of these stays has had a strong impact on me and influenced my personal and professional development.

 

However, what has shaped me more than anything else, was the time between 2011 and 2016 when I worked in commercial real estate finance and real estate special situations for Raiffeisen Bank International AG in Vienna and Prague. I am very grateful for this time during which I was able to make good progress in my personal and professional development, not least thanks to very good supervisors and colleagues as well as challenging international projects.

 

Did you originally want to pursue a different career?

No, I did not want to pursue a different career; I became interested in the workings of the world of business in general and finance in particular very early. At 16, I embarked on a two-and-a-half-year banking apprenticeship in Germany, allowing me to gain some practical experience of finance at an early stage.

 

How and why did you come to work for Royal BAM Group?

As part of my MBA experience, I spent a total of three months working as an interim manager/MBA intern in the field of social infrastructure (student housing) at a project developer and industrial real-estate investor in Munich. Because of this and as a result of dealing with a complex case study about an infrastructure project in Poland during the MBA program, I have become even more interested in the infrastructure asset class, which in turn was one of the factors contributing to my decision to apply for my current position as a finance manager (project finance) in infrastructure (construction/civil engineering) at the Dutch Royal BAM Group, a leading pan-European construction company with an annual turnover of approximately 7 billion euro. Incidentally, Royal BAM Group has also been involved in projects in Austria, such as the extension of the U2 subway line in Vienna.

 

What has changed in your career as a result of your MBA degree?

Without a doubt, the biggest change after graduating from the MBA program has been that I started working in a new position at Royal BAM Group and relocated from Vienna to Frankfurt as a result.

 

I had already earned a degree in business administration with special emphasis on finance, which provided a good basis as far as the Professional MBA Finance was concerned. Still, every class allowed me to learn something new, to deepen the knowledge I had or to relate it to other subject areas covered in the course of the MBA program. I have greatly benefited from this, especially in the context of my new position in Frankfurt.

 

What has been your biggest professional/personal success?

What I consider my biggest professional/personal success took place in the fourth quarter of 2012/the first quarter of 2013. Here, while I was enrolled in a part-time study program that required me to attend classes in Frankfurt, I not only made an internal career move to a position in a new department that involved greater responsibilities but also went into business for myself. I was the sole founder of a startup in the sporting sector and still managed to maintain a good work-life balance and do around 5-10 hours of sports a week.

 

What are your goals for 2018?

My goals for 2018 are to establish myself at Royal BAM Group in Frankfurt, bring challenging infrastructure projects to fruition together with my colleagues and make new contacts in the finance, real estate and infrastructure community, especially in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

 

Privately speaking, one of these days I absolutely want to take part in an MTB stage race like the Alpentour Trophy or even Cape Epic and make it across the finish line.

 

What do you consider a “great luxury”?

Time.

 

How would you characterize your philosophy of leadership?

I believe that mutual respect and a culture of open, mutual feedback are more important than anything else.

 

How do you recharge your batteries when you are not pursuing your demanding career?

Apart from my family and friends, sport plays a huge role in my life.

 

If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be?

Frank-Walter Steinmeier or Alexander Van der Bellen - simply because it must be very exciting and challenging to be in their shoes for a day, and you definitely get to interact with many interesting people.

 

Why would you recommend the Professional MBA of the WU Executive Academy?

I would recommend the Professional MBA because the curriculum is very well thought out; the lecturers are excellent; the language of instruction is English; the faculty and student body are very international; the students bring a considerable amount of “high-quality” professional experience to the table; the performance of WU Vienna in rankings is good and, last but not least, because the program offers very good value for money.

 

I definitely liked the module in Boston during the finance specialization the most. Attending lectures by Harvard professors and visiting companies such as Morgan Stanley and Fidelity was an experience I would not want to be without.

Wordrap

My motto in life:
Just do it.
I can laugh about:
Myself.
Mistakes I am most likely willing to forgive:

Mistakes that have happened to me as well.

I would spend my last money on:
A high-quality bicycle.
In 20 years I will:
Have achieved some more of my personal and professional goals.

Read more interesting career stories of our students and alumni here.

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