Making It in Austria: What the Right Mentoring Can Do

April 12, 2021

A mentoring success story

Culture, language, surroundings: For all those who want to gain a professional foothold in Austria, starting a career is not always easy. With this in mind, the WU Executive Academy recently launched the "Making it in Austria" initiative: a virtual group of experts, mentors and alumni/alumnae who support current students and graduates who want to make a career in Austria with a comprehensive range of career services and individual coaching. Our latest mentoring success story with Martina Ernst, founder of SalaryNegotiations. & ColourfulCareer and Global Executive MBA alumna herself, and Zagorka Bozhinovska, Professional MBA Digital Transformation & Data Science participant, who recently successfully changed jobs and is now Lead Business Analyst at Raiffeisen International AG, shows how well the initiative is working now.

pic of Martina Ernst mentoring
Martina Ernst reports on a recent mentoring success story of the "Making it in Austria" initiative.

Martina, as an alumna and HR/Salary & Career expert, you have been closely associated with the WU Executive Academy for many years and are very active as President of the WU EA Female Leaders Network. In this role, you are happy to provide (younger) colleagues with advice and support and pass on your expertise. Why do you think initiatives like the Making it in Austria group are so valuable from a career perspective?

If you want to develop or reorient yourself professionally in a 'foreign' country, you don't want to have to start from scratch with your questions every time, but find it extremely helpful to meet experts with whom you have common base, a common network. And true to the motto 'Together we are stronger', I believe in the power of our network. The more we know each other, the more we trust each other and can support and help each other in our careers. And – frankly speaking – who would you rather offer a job in the long run: a top-qualified stranger or an equally qualified alumna from the same network?!

Some time ago, you also made yourself available to Zagorka as a career mentor. How would you describe your collaboration?

As a mentor in our network, you don't teach newcomers how to take their first steps in their professions, but meet top experts and leaders from a wide variety of industries - and you always learn a lot yourself, because mentoring is – and that is the great thing about it - not a one-way street. Zagorka can look back on a very impressive career and she wanted to exchange with a sparring partner, who would listen carefully to her and possibly ask the right questions to help her see her desires and options ahead of her more clearly. Our mentors come from a wide variety of industries. Most of them have an HR background or a desire to help others grow professionally; they are very well connected in Austria and are committed to support all members of the WU EA network.

What advice did you give Zagorka?

Together with Zagorka, we looked at her options at hand and it became clear to her what she really wants professionally. Because once you have a clear goal in mind, you can also take the right next steps.

Wordrap - Martina Ernst

I can laugh about:
Most about my own mistakes
Mistakes I can easily forgive:
Actually all, because making mistakes is part of your growth process.
My funniest/most exciting travel experience was:
By chance, I met a Global Executive MBA colleague at the airport in Milan - and we had such an intense conversation that we missed the boarding and the flight...
I could not survive without this smartphone app:
Sometimes I have the feeling that I just cannot live without my cell phone and all its possibilities - but I know a life without a cell phone is possible, otherwise I wouldn't even exist.
My fridge is always stocked with:
Whipped cream
I would spend my last money on:
My family and friends in need
Ten years ago, I thought:
That I had already achieved pretty much everything in my life.
Today I know:
How much more colorful (your professional) life can be - that is, by the way, also why my second consulting & coaching company is called ColourfulCareer.

Zagorka, you are a current participant of the Professional Master Digital Transformation & Data Science. How did you hear about the Making it in Austria initiative/mentoring? How did you and Martina get to know each other?

It was not long after I enrolled at the WU Executive Academy, I discovered the inspiring events organized as part of the program. At one of those events, I met Martina.

What did your mentoring look like? How did you work together?

Mentoring is a fine line between professional coaching and some kind of friendship. Personally speaking, I had an instant bond with Martina and the time is passing fast during a meeting with her. She is definitely an expert in asking the right questions.

What tips did you get from Martina?

Martina is inspiring and experienced professional. I have taken many tips from her such as the following: the more precise you are with the job position you want, the closer you are to actually getting it.

You have now started a new job at Raiffeisen International AG. What exactly from your mentoring has helped you to finally get the job/become more confident going into the selection interviews?

When searching for a new job it is important to be patient. Sometimes the job position you have in your mind might not be immediately available at the market, or other conditions might need to be dealt with beforehand, therefore patience is the key.

Wordrap - Zagorka Bozhinovska

I can laugh about:
The travles with my dearest friends
Mistakes I can easily forgive:
My mistakes
My funniest/most exciting travel experience was:
Thailand. I am quite conservative with food and I am, well, almost vegetarian. When I was working as a consultant, the clients from Bangkok were very polite and in the short time I was there, they wanted to introduce me with various from their food specialities they thought were worth trying. That was fun!
I could not survive without this smartphone app:
Any app that connects me with my familiy.
My fridge is always stocked with:
I would spend my last money on:
Ten years ago, I thought:
Big ideas shape the world
Today I know:
The small steps matter the most

Read more about the "Making it in Austria" initiative here.

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