Why MBA alumni are the better candidates

August 24, 2017

What makes MBA alumni stand out?

Individuals need to network, and so do organizations. Recruiting the right professionals is a challenge—hence, more and more HR managers decide to harness the power of alumni networks. In the following interview, PremiQaMed's Alexandra Forchtner explains what sets MBA graduates apart from other candidates and what qualities and skills she looks for when it comes to filling vacancies.

People such as Isabel Auenhammer, MBA, are living proof that this approach is effective. The graduate of the WU Executive Academy's Professional MBA Health Care Management holds a top position at PremiQaMed and tells us more about what role the program has played in this context.

Alexandra Forchtner, employee development and recruiting, PremiQaMed

What makes collaborating with university alumni networks so exciting for businesses?

To begin with, MBA alumni are interested in developing their knowledge and skills. Secondly, they are experienced professionals who meet certain standards - otherwise, they would not have been admitted to MBA programs. And thirdly, they are willing to go the extra mile. Over an extended period of time, MBA alumni made a considerable extra effort to further their personal and professional development. I find this exciting, and there is a world of a difference between studying for this graduate degree and going to university right after high school.

What has it been like to collaborate with WU Vienna's WU Executive Club?

The interaction, cooperation and communication have been very good. One of our employees is a graduate of the WU Executive Academy's Professional MBA Health Care Management, so we have first-hand experience of the benefits the program brings. This type of specialist training is the sort of asset we are particularly looking for in addition to core skills.

From PremiQaMed's perspective, what challenges are there when it comes to finding top talent? What positions in particular are you looking to fill?

Health care is a broad term and one of the most complex fields. So finding top talent is not easy as you can imagine. The culture at PremiQaMed is also complex, meaning you have to bring a strong skill set to the job in order to be able to get up to speed quickly and take things forward from there. Filling operational positions is particularly challenging—ideally, candidates have a background in operations and have developed their knowledge and skills through specialist education and training.

What is it in particular that distinguishes MBA graduates from other candidates?

MBA graduates have their feet firmly on the ground, and their ways of tackling complex challenges are often completely different from those of other candidates. What makes their approaches stand out is the fact that they have had to prove their theoretical and practical problem-solving skills on numerous occasions. When you hire MBA alumni, you can be sure not only that they are familiar with both the realities of the real world and best practice examples but also that they bring comprehensive know-how and their networks of contacts to the job.

What is the “candidate of your dreams” like?

It goes without saying that candidates for different positions are required to have different specialist skills. Apart from that, strong project management skills are definitely important. Moreover, it is vital to have a certain flexibility and be able to think in terms of solutions. Ideally, the candidate of my dreams thinks entrepreneurially and acts decisively. What we are looking for is individuals who are eager to make things happen and who have a healthy sense of pragmatism. Given that we live in a world that is moving faster and faster, we need people who know when it is, and isn't, time to implement things.


Finance professional or entrepreneur?
You invariably need both—however, entrepreneurial spirit led to the foundation of our organization, and it is still very much part of our culture.
Risk or safe bet?
Calculated risk. We would not have been able to get where we are today without a certain degree of courage. But in some cases (e.g. on site in the hospitals) it is definitely more important to play it safe.
Creative oder analytical
Both. First, you have to be analytical in order to be able to grasp and evaluate a situation. Then, you need to be creative in order to come up with solutions.
Beautiful office or digital nomad?
Some of the positions at PremiQaMed are more mobile in nature, but mostly we work in beautiful offices.
Considerable latitude or strict supervision?
Latitude! Our trust in our employees enables us to give them the room for maneuver they need in order to be innovative and creative with a view to taking things forward.

Isabel Auenhammer, MBA

What did you do for a living before joining PremiQaMed and what are your current responsibilities?

I worked at Rudolfinerhaus, a tradition-bound private hospital that sets the bar high in terms of quality. It was there that I earned my diploma and carved out a career in health care. I started out in ward-based nursing, subsequently managed the outpatient department, and seven years ago, I became responsible for OR, IMC, outpatient and ECG management. It was not too long ago that I resolved to make a career move and join a bigger organization. In my current position, I am responsible for the OR management of five hospitals. Technically speaking, I bring a wealth of experience to the job, but my responsibilities have considerably increased, which is exactly what I had been looking for.

What role does your MBA degree play in this context?

It is very significant now—and it was very significant at my previous employer. I wanted to enroll in the MBA program, and while I attended it, I also completed a director of nursing training course. My goal was not only to get a thorough grounding in business matters but also to acquire relevant non-health-care-related knowledge.

Have you learned something that is of direct practical relevance to your job?

The budgeting and accounting classes and all the business administration know-how have been particularly beneficial. Other training programs also cover business-related topics, but not in such great detail.

Have you been able to make useful contacts during the MBA program?

Our MBA class is a network that still exists. Some of my MBA colleagues are nursing professionals, some work in administration and many are medical doctors. This diversity of backgrounds has been a valuable asset. I mostly interact with the doctors because time and again our areas of activity overlap.

And what advice would you give to prospective MBA students?

That depends on what you would like to achieve and what your priorities are. As far as I am concerned, the MBA provided a good basis for me to develop my ability to think like a business person, to formally round out my education and to hone my presentation and communication skills. Prof. Steyrer was the best role model you could wish for in this context. I know that all of my classmates have also benefited from the MBA experience. Without a doubt, I would do the MBA again.

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