How a Compact Executive Education Program Can Become a Full MBA

April 29, 2021

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Remigiusz Dobija, Director in International Retail Risk Management at Raiffeisen Bank International AG, and Konstantin Bankov, Director SME Risk Management also Raiffeisen Bank International AG, are graduates of the 12-day Data Science certificate program of the WU Executive Academy. Recently, both of them decided not only to complete the program, but also to upgrade it to an entire Professional MBA Data Science & Digital Transformation. In this interview, the two bank managers talk about what prompted them to take this step, how they are already benefiting from the practical skills they acquired during the Data Science program, and why they have already been able to implement their "practice project" in their own company.

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The certificate program can be upgraded to a full MBA - read on to see why two students did exactly that.

Remigiusz and Konstantin, you are both graduates of the Data Science certificate program. Why did you sign up for it?

Remigiusz: Banking is a widely data driven business and specifically in my domain it gains even more importance. In our organization, the last years were marked by emergence of use cases related to advanced analytics. However, my decision to complete this course was not only work driven. In general, being confronted with data and its variety of application in businesses models, including big data, I was looking for a comprehensive program which could introduce me to an academic backed field of study.

Konstantin: Indeed, as banking industry professionals we’re on the front line in the need to understand and find efficient usage of our data and improved analytics. In the area of credit risk management, the usage of advanced statistics and analytics methods is a fact for years. However, the modern methods and model achievements open and provide new opportunities for which I’d like to be better prepared.

Were your expectations met? How can you already implement what you have learned in your daily work?

Remigiusz: I knew that WU’s Executive Academy holds the triple accreditation. Not many business schools achieved it, so my expectations were high. Today I can say that the program I chose met my requirements of quality, scope and schedule assisting the busy professionals. Moreover, the classmates represented various industries. I liked it as it extends the horizons. All I have learned can deliver interesting use cases, also specific to my industry. For instance, the predictive CRM models which we were taught can be applicable in banking as well as in any customer’s-oriented organization, nonetheless the machine learning models for fraud detection may be specific. More importantly we had many hands-on exercises which brought a clear guidance on how to do it.

Konstantin: The program is outstanding! Expectations were met and exceeded, in terms of being a perfect combination between learning the theory about all those multiple aspects of the methods and models involved in what we have nowadays as data science domains and having intensive ‘hand-on’ sessions in the modules where we could see them applied in practice. The practice includes also our own learnings and opportunity to try it, not watching someone else doing it. This is then much easier translated in the professional environment at work. Exitance of use cases and applicability in the area of banking and credit risk is high – speaking about predictive models for borrowers’ behavior as expected creditworthiness to the areas of achieving it with less intensive demand for customers’ data being provided manually by the customers and instead using Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies and machine/deep learning methods (e.g. OCR) for ‘reading’ readily available documents instead. And not to forget the process mining methods we learned about in the program – they were directly applicable in our work environment, as our mini-project proved.

Your joint practice project was a great success - also from your company's point of view. Can you tell us a little bit about it? What is it about?

Remigiusz: In the project we explored how the process mining, meaning combination of data science methods and BPM, can turn into a meaningful use case. Generally, the banking processes create logs of process events which can be extracted from IT systems such as, say, loan processing applications. We leveraged the existence of such event logs in our company. It brought interesting results, new knowledge about the process, proved efficiency of such an approach and set the base for enhancement. The ambition is to apply it to the mass lending business.

Konstantin: Yes, it was a very interesting and insightful project for us. It demonstrated how with the same set of data that may already exist, an organisation like ours can find additional and much more revealing usage with the help of data science methods. It was very interesting and useful to see also of our management and peers in the organisation – objective analysis and presentation of the real process and its actual metrics vs. the intended one. Brings news from a different angle, sometimes good sometimes with a lot of opportunities to act to improve.

Recently, you decided to upgrade the 12-day certificate program to a full MBA? Why?

Remigiusz: The huge advantage of the Data Science program is that it makes one of the modules of the Professional MBA Digital Transformation and Data Science. Important to say is that there are more modules which one can join as a standalone. I my case I decided immediately to continue with Blockchain. I appreciate this possibility as it enables an individual learning path and gradual entering into the fully stack MBA. I will continue it as it is complementary to my profession and will provide a relevant upgrade to my skills and knowledge. The quality of learning which I experienced so far gives me a high level of confidence in this statement.

Konstantin: Such a transformation to a full MBA was in my mind from the beginning. Due to the timing of events in 2020 we started with the specialization modules first (which are available as standalone ones) and in our case this was the Data Science module, a big one. Once started, I was even more excited and convinced I shall continue with the rest and upgrade to the full MBA course. Simply put, the appetite comes with the good food. The amazing combination of academic lecturers and professionals from the various industries’ practices brings a lot of value that is not possible to achieve otherwise in such a short time. I’d like to mention also the flexible and professional organisation of all the sub-modules, on-site and remotely during the COVID-driven lockdowns and a bit complicated logistics. All of it made my decision to apply for the full MBA very easy.

Wordrap - Remigiusz Dobija

I can laugh about:
Many things, also about myself. I can say that people around me are a constant source of healthy laughing. It brings lots of joy in my life.
Shortcomings I am most likely willing to overlook:
In general, all the shortcomings which are aligned with expectations are not a problem for me. Also, if something is not intended or happens due to unpredictable coincidence of events.
My funniest/most exciting travel experience was:
Once, I travelled to the Indocjina region. I was my first visit to Asia and unique memories remained. Also, my visit to one amusement park in Europe brought lots of fun. Due to an unpreceded storm, which was gone after a while, we remained in the park with only a few other people. All the rollercoasters were ours.
I could not survive without this smartphone app:
The online maps as I like visiting places which I don't know. Many can be found not far from my home.
My fridge is always stocked with:
Ingredients for a nurturing soup.
I would spend my last money on:
My familiy.
Ten years ago, I thought:
Now it does not matter. Better to say what I did not think of and turned into a reality. The last 10 years were a constant surprise for me.
Today, I know:
That continous learning is even more important as the world matters accelerate.

Wordrap - Konstantin Bankov

I can laugh about:
Mishaps that happen to me, good jokes and memes showing how similar people are in their perceptions. Also, about people who take themselves too seriously and think the world revolves around them.
Shortcomings I am most likely willing to overlook:
It is hard to generalize here. Maybe those which are not ill-intended and are a matter of character, not leading to any harm. Like, not talking first about the weather but going straight to the point, which is somethimes mistaken for roughness.
My funniest/most exciting travel experience was:
I like travelling, most of it is exciting and often funny, it is hard to single out a short one without harming the fun in it. Maybe the one to Hong Kong and China many years ago. Google Maps was not a thing yet, and I had to be a guide there for a small group of people, none of us ever been there before. It was awesome at the end, very exciting as a first touch to a completely different culture and daily life habits.
I could not survive without this smartphone app:
Google Maps. Travel and time/expectations management. I like to be prepared.
My fridge is always stocked with:
Cold drinks, beer and eggs
I would spend my last money on:
Health. And to help a friend in need.
Ten years ago, I thought:
How will my life in Austria and Vienna be. It was 10 years ago when I relocated to Vienna from Sofia and in spite of being a desired one - organizing such a change requires some thinking and brings some thoughts.
Today, I know:
It was a good decision. And here we are, talking about new goals and continuing my education, knowing already so many amazing people around and looking forward to the future. I know people shall take their chances when such opportunities appear.

For more information about the Professional MBA Digital Transformation & Data Science, please click here.

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