Vienna – the city of coffee and culture, and world-class MBAs

August 19, 2016

The capital of Austria has more to offer than just culture and the fine arts.

Attending an MBA course in Vienna is a great way to acquire the knowledge needed in today's business world, but it can also be an ideal opportunity to meet interesting people and share experience. Cezary Baran, Vice President and CFO at Emperia Holding S.A. and Professional MBA student at the WU Executive Academy, fully subscribes to this idea.

When we hear of Vienna, we usually think of impressive museums and palaces, the magnificent Ring and the rich cultural life of the city. One might go there for a long weekend to enjoy the atmosphere of a wonderful metropolis, regularly top-listed as the most livable city in the world in the famous Mercer ranking. However, we should not forget that the capital of Austria is also an important place on the economic and political map of the world, far more significant than the small size of the country might suggest.

The IAEA headquarters in Vienna.

Vienna hosts OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. In addition, it is also one of the cities where several important United Nations institutions have their headquarters; the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, has its seat here. No wonder the academic world wants to benefit from the global cachet of the city, too.

The Professional MBA program is offered as part of the WU Executive Academy at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. Its students can choose any of five specializations: Energy Management, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Finance, Marketing & Sales and Project Management.

Campus WU ©BOAnet

Cezary Baran, Vice President and CFO of Emperia Holding S.A., a retail and real estate group, chose Finance. Emperia Holding S.A. is listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange; its sales exceeded EUR 460 million last year, and its net profit amounted to almost EUR 12 million.

Deciding for WU Vienna was the right decision

Why the Professional MBA at the WU Executive Academy? “First of all, I needed a good, interesting course in Finance, as this is the area of my day-to-day work. In Vienna I was able to specialize in Finance and earn an MBA degree at the same time,“ explains Cezary Baran. He travels to the capital of Austria once a month to attend classes – so far, only those that are common to all Professional MBA specializations, the so called Business Core. In the second year, he will be taking classes selected exclusively for his chosen specialization.

The primary objective of the faculty members of the Professional MBA is to help participants cope with the challenges of today's economy. The age we live in is as much interesting as it is uncertain. On the one hand, the global economy has recovered from the deepest crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, but we constantly worry that the crisis may return with a vengeance. Despite this, even though it is very hard to predict how the economy will evolve, many companies are highly successful. While some industries are in serious trouble, others are growing rapidly. MBA studies should help students react promptly to the ever-changing business conditions. This is indeed the purpose of the Professional MBA program offered by the WU Executive Academy.

An excellent feature of the MBA

One of the highlights of this program is a trip to the United States, with classes at the famous Harvard University. This is a unique opportunity to meet American teachers and to become familiar with their working style, which is somewhat different from that of their European counterparts – and gain new knowledge. Students who chose the Professional MBA program are quite enthusiastic about the trip, especially that it gives them an opportunity to establish valuable business contacts.

Vienna, an important business center

The choice of an MBA program in Vienna may not be obvious for some CEE candidates. Yet, on closer examination, it makes a lot of sense. "The Vienna University of Economics and Business enjoys well-deserved reputation and belongs to the most exclusive group of such schools in Europe.

"Besides, Vienna is close, just an hour's flight from Warsaw. Therefore, it is relatively easy to find the necessary time to attend sessions, even if one has a demanding job.

"Moreover, the city not only has a great atmosphere, but is also an important center for business, where many investment funds active in our region of Europe have their headquarters. In Vienna, one can meet many people who are professionally involved with the Polish market,” points out Cezary Baran.

Of the MBA students, 3 quarters come from outside of Austria. Students are usually around 33 years old and have an average of 10 years of work experience.

The right mix of people

The international atmosphere of the school is one of the greatest assets of the Professional MBA program. Only a little over 25 percent of the students are Austrians. There are nearly as many Russians, for whom Vienna has become a gateway to European finance. Bulgarians, Romanians and Croatians are also well represented, though there is no lack of Germans either. The average age of the students is 33 years, and average career length is 10 years. This shows that – though young – participants in the Professional MBA program have considerable business experience.

Who are the students that choose Professional MBA in Vienna? Statistics show that there is great variety in this respect, too. One-fifth of the participants work in the energy sector, 15 percent in telecommunications and the same proportion in finance. There are also students who work in the pharmaceutical industry, in construction and retail.

"Among the students there are these who have just embarked on a career in management, as well as experienced executives. Some run their own business, others work as consultants; there are even partners in law firms. And there are board members of small companies,” explains Cezary Baran, who is very pleased with the Professional MBA program so far. He stresses the benefits of teamwork and opportunities to share experience during classes.

Meeting new people and expanding your network

Contacts established during Professional MBA studies last much longer than it takes to earn the degree. To help with this, the school has established the WU Executive Club, an exclusive alumni association. Anyone who enrolls in the program automatically becomes a member.

The WU Executive Club Club not only facilitates experience sharing, but also enables its members to participate in interesting conferences and symposia. Furthermore, the university collaborates with many global companies. Studies in Vienna may turn out to be the perfect opportunity to find a new job, even more exciting and better paid than your current one! And after a hard day's work, it feels wonderful to relax with a cup of the famous Viennese coffee and a piece of Sacher cake…

By Anna Dobrowolska

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