And not regretting the decision
Can you, please, share with us your career development until now? What stages in your life have had the greatest impact on you and why?
Looking back, I feel enriched by a rather diverse professional career. I am glad I worked for UBS in Zurich at the beginning of my professional life where I gathered not only project management and IT skills but also very useful insights into the functioning of a huge and multinational company. The next important step was switching to the management of a small hotel where I enjoyed being the “captain” and guiding a motivated team to substantial success. Lastly, the outbreak of the pandemic led me to rethink my career and choose to make a restart. That’s when I applied for the MBA, and I think of it as the best decision I could have made at this point.
Did you originally want to pursue a different career? If so, what made you change your plans?
Originally, I think I just wanted to spend my life for something valuable and interesting. I love travelling and international experiences. I did not make a detailed plan of my professional career and some steps I would not have planned myself, e.g., changing from a multinational to a family company or restarting at the age of 50. However, I feel it was the best career path for me, useful and interesting all the way.
What was your biggest professional/personal success?
I am proud of the success I was able to achieve as a managing director together with a great team for the small Swiss hotel. From my studies and the experience at UBS I was not technically prepared for this task, however, the owners had trust that I could change the course of the business. We achieved an impressive growth rate, and I left the company in a good and stable shape.
What was your biggest challenge? What was your biggest professional mistake (from which you learned a lot)?
Biggest success and biggest challenge are connected very tightly. Not only was it challenging entering the hospitality business as a complete newcomer but also to cope with the company culture. The transition from a clubhouse to a hotel was a big challenge as it required changing processes, methods, tools and most importantly the culture and mentality of the employees. The representatives of the owner, an association, requested this transition for economic reasons. But it turned out that they too, were not aware of the many consequences of their decision. Nevertheless, most members of the association appreciated the success we were able to achieve.
As the managing director of this small hotel, I once took a staff decision that in hindsight was a bad one. I had to replace the team leader of the reception desk and lacking the right candidate I chose to employ the best candidate among the applicants. I learned that the best applicant is not necessarily the right one. With her difficult character and special working attitude she created a lot of problems and agitation within the team and finally left by her own decision.
Which 3 most important experiences in your life have led you to where you are right now?
An important experience was certainly the working experience as a managing director, where I learned so much about myself and other people. I learned to deal with conflicting opinions, tackling adverse situations and building alliances, compromising and building strategies to reach the goal.
The second most important experience was meeting my most important person. A life-changing event which not only led me rethink and reorder certain aspects of my life and change my priorities but also impacted my way of how I look at people and circumstances. Certainly, this contributed to my decision to apply for the MBA program, which I see as the third most important experience.
Attending the MBA program, I had so many interesting discussions, I got so many interesting insights, updated my business and general knowledge and got to know so many interesting people. Completing the MBA program has given me a new inner drive and determination regarding my professional career. Now I am restarting my career path with renewed self-confidence.
When you think of the most talented high potential in your company, what 3 pieces of advice would you give him/her to live a successful and fulfilling life?
My first advice would be to never give up being curious, always continue exploring and learning. Take advantage of learning experiences such as an MBA program, which is not limited to technical knowledge but lets you get in touch with people from whom you can learn a lot.
Love what you do, so you will not work a day in your life. I do not remember who said that, but I fully agree with it. However, sometimes you might feel that it is enough, and your work makes you suffer: then change, you can always make a new start, do not simply hang around hoping things will get better. Be open for new experiences.
And last but not least: Take care of the people you love, keep connected with those who love you and support you and do not worry about the others, they are just not important.
Using just 5 words, how would your team describe you as a leader?
Appreciative, cooperative, inclusive, responsible, results oriented
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 appreciated the excellent mix of lessons of up-to-date and state-of-the-art knowledge, interesting discussions on the topics with very qualified peers from different domains, experiences and management levels and the variety of networking opportunities, organized by WU or privately. This certainly broadened my horizon, which I admit had become narrow after many years of working in a rather restricted environment. I attended the program during an educational leave and at the same time I was looking for a career change. I realized that the MBA experience turned out to be a booster for my professional prospects. With the advancing of the program, I gained optimism and self-confidence and finally found the perfect new challenge I think I would not have had the opportunity to take without the MBA degree.
As far as the workload is concerned, how did you manage an MBA next to a demanding job and your family life?
As I needed to rethink my career, I decided to do the MBA during one year of educational leave. WU gave me the opportunity to do the whole program within one year, which would not have been possible besides a fulltime job. It was a great year, and I could focus on the MBA program and get the most out of it. Of course, there were hard times too, when the modules took place one after another and the pre- and post-module workload overlapped between the core module and the specialization courses. I feel that this is part of the MBA program too, setting priorities and focusing on what is the next important step. Some of the tasks from the Leadership Lab were appropriate to be shared with the people around me, this was a great way of sharing this experience also with them.
What do you consider a “great luxury”?
I consider being able to live my life in a self-determined way a great luxury. What if I would have been born in a place where people do not have the opportunity to go to school or attend university, but just have to struggle for their daily needs? Being able to pursue my personal goals and not being restricted by too many limits is something special not all people on this planet can afford.
What was the last book/movie you really enjoyed?
Currently I am reading “How to manage difficult personalities” and I am enjoying it a lot.
If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
I think it must be a great experience looking at the Earth from outer space. Probably changing places with an astronaut could be something worthwhile giving up my interesting life for a day.
Read more interesting career stories of our students and graduates here.
Read more interesting career stories of our students and graduates here.