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From Entrepreneur to University Professor and Back

July 01, 2020

When the MBA motivates to start a business

Can you, please, share with us your career development until now? What stages in your life had the greatest impact on you and why?

I studied Physics in Leipzig and moved quickly into the field of medical imaging. Fortunately, I had great mentors who let me into their secrets of academic work, applied sciences and the benefits of collaborations. After spending time in Switzerland and the US I settled for some time in Germany, where I advanced on my academic career. Since I liked travelling a lot, I fell in love with a position within a start-up in Zurich/CH, who had asked me to do a lot of consulting for them at various clinical centres while I was still with the University Hospital in Essen. I joined that start-up and later Philips Healthcare before deciding to open my own consulting company (cmi-experts), which still exists. This was truly the most adventurous and in many ways best time of my life. However, business went down a bit and also the topics changed, which is what drove me to apply for a leadership position in academia again, which is where I work now most of my time. At each transition I felt the urge to build something new; I felt energized about new opportunities and building teams with new people. … ready to change again

Did you originally want to pursue a different career? If so, what made you change your plans?

When I was very young, I wanted to become a medical doctor (too bloody), an astronaut (briefly) and a philosopher … Eventually, I turned to Physics because it combines almost all of the other sciences and domains I was interested in.

What was your biggest professional/personal success?

Hm, that would be a very subjective choice … professionally, the successful introduction of a new imaging system to clinical care that I helped co-develop. Personally, to be happily married

What was your biggest challenge? What was your biggest professional mistake (from which you learned a lot)?

It is really not about a singular challenge but about continuously asking myself, am I doing the best I can or want to do; in a way it’s a continuous self-reflection of how well I perform in my job and position, which - hopefully – I have chosen deliberately from the beginning. My “biggest” mistake was to underestimate the truth in the saying “We meet again”. On occasion, I have been too emotional in interacting with colleagues, which made it difficult to touch base with them again (and some of them may have been in different positions afterwards) when we met again. The lesson learned: “Don’t burn bridges, no matter how much you feel hurt”.

Which 3 most important experiences in your life have led you to where you are right now?

Cherish diversity. Take a break when you feel like it. Meeting people over good food yields trust and friendships.

When you think of the most talented high potential in your company, what 3 pieces of advice would you give him to live a successful and fulfilling life?

Be honest to yourself and trustworthy to others. Be considerate and reflective. Work passionately.

Using just 5 words, how would your team describe you as a leader?

Ambitious. Demanding. Trusted. Honest. Supportive.

What has changed in your career because of your MBA degree? How did the program support you in reaching your career goals? What concrete career opportunities have opened up for you?

I have become more appreciative of many business domains. I have learned a lot about interacting in and with diverse teams and respect other people opinion. Professionally, not much has changed. I felt supported in my aspiration to found a new business. While I enjoyed the studies at WU immensely, I am somewhat disillusioned to see that my new knowledge was not very much welcome at my current position. That notwithstanding, I feel intrigued and energized.

As far as the workload is concerned, how did you manage an MBA next to a demanding job and your family life?

There is another saying “Behind every successful man is a surprised wife.”. Truth being told, my wife did support me a great deal and I am grateful for her. Basic skills in time and project management are nonetheless helpful.

What do you consider a "great luxury"?

Being healthy and sitting down for a drink and a bite to eat at any place I like with friends who are around.

What was the last book/movie you really enjoyed?

Sibylle Berg „Nerds“. „I served the king of England“ after a novel by Bohumil Hrabal, a unique travel in time and cultures.

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

Do I have to?

Wordrap

I can laugh about:
Monthy Python, still.
Shortcomings I am most likely willing to overlook:
In the long run, I am forgiving; at the very instant I can be snippy with no bad intentions.
My funniest/most exciting travel experience was:

When I was young and the wall came down (I lived in Dresden), I bought a EuroRail ticket and went, among other places, to Copenhagen where I slept in a bus stop at the main station with newspaper (thank you, DIE ZEIT) stuffed under my sweater. As soon as the station opened again, I went inside and a guy asked me to watch over his suitcase; I thought it was a bomb as I had heard so many bad things about “the West”; in the end he came back and offered me a coffee – I slowly relaxed.

I could not live without this app on my cell phone:
WhatsApp
You can always find this in my fridge:

Wine

I would spend my last money on:
Fine dining.
10 years ago, I thought:
I wanted to move to Vienna.
Today, I know:
I want to move on.

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

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