Unexpected career opportunities for career changers and high potentials
Projectification galore: from marketing campaigns and product development to market entries and big mergers, more and more companies are handling their business endeavors, irrespective of their size and complexity, as series of projects; companies are now hiring people with skills in project management more than ever across all industries and jobs. Find out more about the unprecedented opportunities project management offers not just for experts specialized in the field, but also, and especially for, newcomers and high potentials in companies as well as the role further education plays in this context: here are two real success stories from graduates of the WU Executive Academy’s Professional MBA Project Management.
An ever-increasing number of companies are leaving their traditional ways behind, adopting a more project-related organization form in order to be able to react to changes in a more agile and flexible manner. “Project management skills are growing in importance on all hierarchy levels and across all sectors. In-depth expertise is not just essential to get ahead in your career in project-focused business segments, it also opens up a variety of opportunities for newcomers and those who are switching careers,” says Martina Huemann, Academic Director of the Professional MBA Project Management.
Many MBA students have a technical background, but the number of students with a background in humanities is steadily increasing. Students from a wide variety of fields benefit from the skills they acquire in project work: they are engineers and IT experts, team leads in projects, but also pilots, cultural managers, teachers, young entrepreneurs, and start-up founders from innovation-based, cultural, or social professions. “Project management used in a targeted way goes a long way to future-proof a company, regardless of whether it is construction, digitalization, IT, customer, or transformation projects in organizational development that are being implemented,” Martina Huemann specifies. Women, many of whom work in marketing, HR, and key account management, account for a big share of students.
Students who are experienced in project management wish to strengthen their theoretical foundation to get ready for complex projects or score points in management positions through their extensive project management skills.
Know-how and an understanding of how projects are planned in a holistic way and implemented with sustainability in mind are huge assets in any profession. This is as much true for technical jobs as it is for positions in the cultural industry or in sales. The following two success stories shared by graduates of the WU Executive Academy’s Professional MBA Project Management illustrate the gigantic career boost these newly acquired skills can entail.
Elena-Cristina Dobrita was able to boost her career into astonishing heights thanks to the Professional MBA Project Management at the WU Executive Academy: “I originally worked in sales and applied for a position in key account management around the same time I submitted my MBA application,” she recounts. In her job interview, she told her future boss about her plans: “I had been interested in project management for a long time, and I finally wanted to take the leap.” In the end, she got the job, not least thanks to her aspirations to gain high-level qualifications in project management: “The job required a lot of project management: by founding a subsidiary, IT systems relevant for the gas market were to be implemented in the Netherlands. I served as a go-between, coordinating the activities with the colleagues on site and at the headquarters.” Elena-Cristina Dobrita was able to immediately transfer the skills she acquired in the MBA modules to her everyday work: “I learned to apply methods such as stakeholder analysis, design thinking, or problem-solving with the help of the five whys. This helped me get to the root of many problems I encountered at work and find novel solutions.” For her master’s thesis, she interviewed, among others, the OMV Head of Business Consulting & Projects. A few months later, she received a job offer in his department for an entry-level position in project management. A mere nine months later, she was promoted and has been a project expert in IT and digital projects within the IT & Digital Projects division of OMV ever since. And Elena-Cristina has no intention of stopping there: “The Professional MBA and the expertise I acquired in the program not only helped me get on my dream career track, it also earned me a promotion and an ongoing career in this area,” she tells us.
For her, there is no doubt that employees with pronounced project management skills are a huge asset for any company: “Projects are important because they give us a nudge in the right direction whenever change is needed. This includes everything from strategic measures to new digital platforms. This makes project management a powerful tool for innovation,” she says. Apart from the necessary know-how in project management, she names another important success factor: “It’s essential to focus on the relationships between employees, because projects are mostly about people and relationships.”
The example of Natalia Villanueva García shows that especially managers in the cultural industry benefit from the MBA program. Natalia is the founder and Managing Director of the Max Steiner Orchestra. “I wanted to learn how to manage projects more professionally in the shark tank that is the cultural industry,” she recounts. “The knowledge I acquired helped me expand my business and got me to work on projects together with a multitude of renowned artists, such as musical theater superstar Andrew Lloyd Webber, opera singers Anna Netrebko, Thomas Hampson, Luca Pisaroni, and Erwin Schrott, Hollywood Academy Award winners Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfmann, Alexandre Desplat, and James Horner, as well as the Latin American singer and composer José Feliciano,” Natalia Villanueva García says.