Why the MBA Energy Management is a program like no other in the world

September 19, 2017

Around the globe, there are only a handful of absolute top programs.

Choosing an MBA degree is a once-in-a-lifetime decision. So it comes as no surprise that prospective students invest up to 2 years in finding the MBA that is best for them - and this also applies to energy-related programs. Around the globe, there are only a handful of absolute top options, including the WU Executive Academy's MBA Energy Management.

Each of them offers its own advantages, making it unique in its own way. In the following, Prof. Jonas Puck, Academic Director of the program and Head of WU Vienna's Institute for International Business, explains what it is that sets the MBA Energy Management in Vienna apart from the rest.

Prof. Jonas Puck

  • Academic Director of the MBA Energy Management

First and foremost, the MBA Energy Management differentiates itself from the competition because of its unique industry involvement: No other program involves so many global players from the energy sector, be it as lecturers, guest speakers or advisory-board members. And this applies not only as far as traditional forms of energy, such as oil and gas, are concerned but also with regard to renewables, which are an integral part of the curriculum. As a result, we provide our students with an opportunity to develop their understanding of the latest trends and developments, allowing them to acquire the expertise and skills they need in order to be able to successfully address the global challenges of the 21st century.

Top players as lecturers and active supporters

The quality of an MBA program depends to a great extent on the quality of its faculty. In the case of the MBA Energy Management, this is especially true. Some of the world's leading energy experts, such as Adnan Shihab-Eldin, former Secretary General of OPEC, Majid Al-Moneef, Secretary General of the Supreme Economic Council of Saudi Arabia, or Ivan Sandrea, CEO of Sierra Oil & Gas, actively contributed to the program even during curriculum development.

Adnan Shihab-Eldin teaching
Adnan Shihab-Eldin is a member of the MBA advisory board and also teaches in the program.

“It was really great. Whenever I needed some advice while I was planning the curriculum, I turned to our advisory board, and its members gave me immediate feedback. Together, we have succeeded in designing a curriculum that optimally responds to the needs and requirements of the energy sector. Many of the advisory-board members still teach in the program, which I am very happy about,” continues Prof. Puck.

The MBA Energy Management's faculty includes more than just industry experts. Depending on the topics, classes are also taught by internationally renowned professors from WU Vienna, reputable partner universities, such as Columbia University, INSEAD or Arizona State University, or internationally recognized institutions, like the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

Handpicked students from around the globe

Program participants benefit not only from the quality of the faculty but also to a great extent from the interaction with their peers:

“Imagine a class that brings together experts from around the globe. This is exactly what the MBA Energy Management will provide you with. Program participants come from a wide variety of countries, including Nigeria, Canada, Colombia, Kuwait and Russia as well as Austria, Germany and Italy. Since all our students are seasoned managers, they bring to the program not only their different cultural backgrounds but also a wealth of experience that they will share with their peers. Engineers, geophysicists and IT specialists join forces with political scientists, legal experts and finance professionals to work on real-world issues encountered in everyday practice. You can certainly imagine how different their approaches are. The reason for this is that many of our decisions are based not only on facts but also on our attitudes and perspectives. In this context, an MBA program offers an unparalleled setting: It brings together individuals who share similar concerns and skills, providing them with an opportunity to exchange views and opinions with one another in a non-hierarchical environment. This is precisely what makes the learning experience during the MBA Energy Management unique,” explains Prof. Puck.

Group picture of the students
Handpicked students from around the globe bring different cultural backgrounds and a wealth of experience to the MBA.

“Big picture” and clever risk management thanks to a holistic curriculum

Students of the MBA Energy Management enjoy all the benefits of a traditional general management program. In addition, they acquire extensive expertise in core areas of the energy industry as well as a comprehensive understanding of the interdependencies in the global energy system:

“When I ask our students on graduation day what they have benefited from the most, many tell me that they now have a much better understanding of the global interplay of a wide variety of topics, of how things interrelate, and of what effects their interventions will have. So what really matters is the big picture,” says Prof. Puck.

Moreover, program participants are given the opportunity and the flexibility to become experts on topics they are particularly interested in by exploring them in greater detail, e.g. in the course of working on their master's theses. The program's lecturers and guest speakers come from many different areas of the energy sector. Hence, students also benefit substantially from first-hand insights shared by carefully chosen experts who help them develop their understanding of the latest industry trends and developments.

Risk Management as a key course topic

According to Prof. Puck, proper risk management is another priority of the curriculum. Spreading risk through diversification is crucial, especially for businesses operating in volatile markets, where future developments are hard to predict: “When it comes to risk management, 3 areas are fundamentally important: To begin with, there is strategic risk management. Traditional energy companies, in particular, would be well advised to invest in other parts of the energy sector. The more diverse your portfolio, the better you will be able to compensate for the loss of a segment. Then, there is financial risk management. Here, the key question is: What can my business do as far as financial hedging is concerned, and which of the available options are the best in my particular case? And finally, there is risk management at the executive level. How can I make sure to always achieve the best results possible for my business when interacting with the outside world? For example in the context of negotiating with clients or partners. How can I pursue an internal leadership strategy that safeguards my interests and those of the workforce at the same time?”

All of these issues are comprehensively addressed during the MBA Energy Management, and being able to share their experience with their peers and ask them for advice is, of course, extremely beneficial to students.

International perspective and unparalleled networking opportunities

The MBA Energy Management is one of the most international energy-related programs in the world - not only thanks to its faculty and students from around the world but also because of a very special highlight: An international residency in the U.S.A. takes students to Texas and California, where they get an opportunity to interact with top-level executives of leading energy companies, such as Halliburton, Aramco or Bidgely. Moreover, they attend classes at top universities, like Stanford and Rice University.

Golden Gate bridge at night
The international residency in the U.S.A. where the students meet top-managers is a special highlight. Photo © Kai Siefert

“Its international perspective is not the only reason the MBA Energy Management provides students with valuable networking opportunities. The fact that it is a Vienna-based program is also significant in this regard: Over the years, we have been able to make excellent contacts with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), OPEC or UNIDO, among others. These close ties are also beneficial to program participants,” concludes Prof. Puck.

Thanks to this unique setting, students can network with the global players in the energy sector throughout the 15-month program, allowing them to build up an unparalleled range of contacts across the world.

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