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From 2023, following a successful pilot phase, the WU Executive Academy will make the service offer of the Mentoring4U project available to all MBA and LL.M. students and alumni. One of the many pairings of the pilot phase, mentee Jasmin Roth and her mentor Christa Gschweitl, have shared with us what they have gained through Mentoring4U.
In 2022, the WU Executive Academy initiated a tailor-made mentoring program, which turned out to be so successful that its continuation was a no-brainer. A trial run of the new Mentoring4U program took place between late May and early October 2022. The pilot phase in which graduates were matched with students of selected MBA programs was realized in cooperation with the Female Leaders Network, which is part of the WU Executive Academy’s alumni network.
“The members of our Female Leaders Network live by the slogan ‘Together we are stronger,’ so the ten-woman board was immediately excited about our idea,” shares Barbara Stöttinger, the Dean of the WU Executive Academy and an avid supporter of mentoring structures.
“We used our virtual WU EA Connect network to match participants based on an algorithm in a first step. This technology, fortunately, was already available to us. So we searched for a way to improve networking between students and alumni in a structured and coordinated way while keeping things uncomplicated and easily accessible,” Barbara Stöttinger recounts. A virtual kick-off event ensured that the participants of the Mentoring4U program were off to a good start thanks to the opportunity to get to know each other in a relaxed setting.
Once a month, the couples had the opportunity to meet virtually or on site according to their respective needs and schedules. They also completed challenges together and saved pictures of the outcomes in the Mentoring4U group in the WU EA Connect network. This group is a meeting place where mentees and mentors can communicate with each other between their sessions. A fact sheet and timetable further helped them make their collaboration as effective and suitable for the respective mentee’s needs as possible.
Jasmin Roth, co-founder and Creative Directrice of Cin Cin - Creative Studios, is a student of the MBA Marketing & Sales. With Christa Gschweitl, a senior manager at Accenture, she found an experienced mentor with a skill set that complements her own.
I have a background in the creative industries and decided to complete the MBA to deepen my commercial expertise and make the topic of design more accessible for people from other industries. After all, there is a design bubble and a business bubble, and communication between them is a no-man’s-land full of pitfalls. For me, Mentoring4U was a first step in resolving this issue.
Christa Gschweitl is a law graduate who completed the Global Executive MBA in 2018 to gain expertise in the fields of business and finance: “One of the co-founders of the Female Leaders Network asked me whether I would be willing to act as a mentor,” she remembers. She quickly decided she would be: “When I was working at a company several years ago, I had a mentor myself – I benefitted in so many ways, and acting as a mentor was also a learning opportunity for me,” she says. The four meetings were very beneficial for both women. As they live close to each other, they also met in person twice during the summer, sharing a meal as they talked. “Speaking with Christa, I particularly acquired new insights through the change of perspective. When I revealed to her that I sometimes feel like I'm being torn between motherhood, entrepreneurship, and the MBA, Christa, who is an extremely disciplined and structured person, told me: ‘Just do one thing after the other.’ Her work style really inspired me”, Jasmin Roth says. Also Christa Gschweitl learned a lot in her role as a mentor: “Jasmin is working on fascinating projects, and I was able to learn a bit about setting up of the campaign for the ImPulsTanz Vienna International Dance Festival. Thanks to her input, I now have a better understanding of the power of design and what it can do for companies. We also talked about other topics, such as nutrition. In a nutshell, she made me privy to a whole new world, namely her design world,” Christa Gschweitl shares.
The two women report that the Mentoring4U program has been a truly enriching experiment.
The Mentoring4U program is an effective and very valuable addition to the MBA studies. In an MBA program, people with similar mindsets but different professional backgrounds and job profiles study together – tailor-made mentoring is an excellent contribution to this set-up.
The great success of the pilot project has encouraged the WU Executive Academy to expand the Mentoring4U program: “From May, we will offer Mentoring4U to all MBA and LL.M. students and graduates via the International Alumni Board,” Barbara Stöttinger says. The Dean shares that her team is already thinking about offering additional formats, such as reverse mentoring with young WU students as mentors and executives as mentees. “If things continue to run as smoothly, we’ll be able to offer Mentoring4U two to three times every year,” Barbara Stöttinger predicts.
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