AUTHOR:  Eike Thomas (MBA XII)

Four things you learn about your MBA-school, while being enrolled.

Actually, I was relatively sure to not take part in this MBA program – my boss did not support me, I had to pay for myself and it pretty much seemed to be all too much... then again, being all too much is kind of what separates this program from a normal master’s degree, doesn't it? So I took part, didn't care what my boss said, paid the money and – boy – am I glad that I did it, but let’s start from the beginning:


What is a MBA and why should you do one?
An MBA is a degree that is widely known in the Anglo-American countries, and more and more here in Germany as well. One of the great things about it is that you can have a business degree with a different bachelor or master specialization. Oftentimes you started to study something else – maybe engineering or IT – but would like to have more knowledge about management after the first years of work experience. I think the MBA is therefore a great option for many career changers in general.

You see, the only thing this program really lacks is to spread more news about its qualities, so I'll start from there. When I began, I thought this course was probably filled with 20 engineers, all great in math and terrible in English that somehow try to do an international course with professors that work the same way. I'm glad, that I was very wrong about that. Sure, there are engineers, after all the THM educates a lot of them but I'm glad the course has way more to offer and the lecturers also speak really good English (which sounds more arrogant than it should). Actually, we couldn't do anything without English, it's not showing off, but you really need it, because our course is so international. Just take a look at the photo showing the passports and different nationalities of the current MBA class – the 12th class (MBA XII).

We’ve got a banker from the bank of Transylvania (it's hard to fight the blood bank-jokes), an Egyptian that works for a big airline, and an Iranian girl – who is my absolute favorite: Why you ask? She left her country, instantly got rid of her Hijab and started eating bacon – that apart from her being extremely smart it is her intercultural understanding you can only experience yourself – there's a lot to learn about countries you wouldn't expect. In our course we have people from Italy, India, Romania, Brazil, Japan, Iran, Egypt and Germany. This is just great and will be even better in the future when we are all alumni.


The classes.
The classes take part on the weekends and you'll probably love the Fridays, because you can leave work early. Saturdays sure, not so much – you'll have to bring this sacrifice, but honestly: The weeks go by faster than you think. You work, you learn – and in the end there is a really well known degree waiting for you, so just bite through it. You also get a lot of material you can and should check out not only during the courses but later as well. Nothing beats knowledge and you will have a pretty solid library for that.


The exams
Don't get me wrong: You will think because you paid around 15.000 € cash for this course, they will at least be very easy on you for the exams. That's not the case and to be honest it would feel wrong. Normally I'm pretty good with the exams but I'm also pretty sure I failed the last one because work was tough and I couldn't really study enough. That happens and it happened to several of us during the course. You will manage and you can retake the exam. It will be tough but you can do it, believe me. You'll be a lot happier in the end if you got no cheap presents on the way.


The trip to the U.S. – a crown jewel of the program

Now this is something that was definitely not emphasized enough: The whole class goes on a trip to Charlotte in North Carolina and be sure it is worth every minute! Yes, it is only for one week and you might think it is some kind of vacation but it is way more:


We arrived in the city – some had already been to the statesfor some it was completely new. You could enjoy the hotel and the American way of service that I totally love. Whatever happens, you're a sir/ma’am and everyone acts kind towards you. Yes, you may call this fake, but I still like the effort that lies in being fake more than the German way of service. Our week in Charlotte was meticulously planned and we had a great way of work hard – play hard. Prof. Joachim Sandt – a lecturer of the THM Business School who we got to know in the module Managerial Accounting he gave in June/July – accompanied us. The days always started at Pfeiffer University, where we discussed the case studies that we had prepared with our professor Dr. (“Doc”) Christopher Howard. It's definitely a different way of teaching. You need to be prepared or you will not be able to follow the discussion and in the end, you will miss a great deal of an interesting dialogue.


In the afternoons we did some remarkable field trips. One of those was a visit to the Wells Fargo bank, where we got to see the trading floor, and had an interview with some of the bankers – definitely nothing you do every day. In addition, we had guest speakers at the university, like the Tesla driving lawyer Dr. von Hennings who, in a clairvoyant state of premonition, gave a lecture about company liability – only weeks before the VW bomb blew up.


In the evenings we could look for our own amenities like the BBQ at the queen city Q, a place that would have been worth a trip to Charlotte alone. We came, saw and devoured. All nationalities eating pork, beef and chicken – an American dream come true. We paid 20$ each and were more than totally stuffed. But that wasn't all, we had to bring some fine clothes because Pfeiffer University had prepared to make us feel like kings, which we sure did. A welcome dinner was held at “Bentley's on 27“ where we could watch the city from a huge show window high above – we loved every minute of it.


One afternoon we visited the very typical most German-style company you could imagine – a tool-manufacturer called Groninger which proved two things: German Engineering works pretty well everywhere and – you can understand people from Swabia way better when they speak English than when they do so in German. Our engineers were pretty happy to see the ampule filling systems they produce and that the company also tries to export German schooling, which they love in the U.S. because you can already earn something while you stay in school, was a nice thing to see. Lothar Burger, the managing director himself, did the tour and answered all questions, not only concerning the technical aspects, but also the strategic, HR, marketing and intercultural aspects of doing business
in US were addressed.


There’s so much more I could tell you. Our shopping trips, the visit to the country club on our last day, or how the whole trip brought this class closer together – I seriously don’t know how we fit all that in our one week trip – oh, by the way: The last day included a graded presentation for us as well, no pressure, right?


Anyway, this trip to Charlotte will definitely not be forgotten soon and I hope they will make a little more noise for it now – it is well worth it.


It is only a few more months for us and we have managed the most by now. I really hope that if you are interested in this program I could tell you a few necessary things. I ’m very happy I started to do this and I don’t know anyone who has any regrets to have started it. So see you around and maybe you just want to visit one of our courses while they still last. The real experience is probably always the best choice. Many of us did it too before we enrolled in the program.


Have a nice day!

- Eike Thomas