Variety, practical approach and a true student city.

Maxi Benndorf, Germany
Institution:Alliance Manchester Business School
Program:Full-time MBA (12 Months)

Brief narrative on Maxi's career history

I started my career at KPMG as a co-op student during my undergraduate degree. That enabled me to gain a lot of practical experience very early and put me in the great position to lead some of the projects right away when I started working as an Audit Assistant. After qualifying as CPA in the US, I was eager to gain more work experience abroad and KPMG offered me the opportunity to work in London on a two year secondment. Working as an Assistant Manager provided me with the opportunity to gain wider responsibilities, leading much larger teams and technically more challenging engagements than before.

What have been the key benefits to you of completing the Manchester MBA Programme? What were the key skills and lessons you learned on your journey? What has been the ROI so far?

I think the key benefit of the MBA was the opportunity to adjust the programme structure according to my own needs. I knew I wanted to change careers and leave professional services, thus it was important for me to have the chance to do an internship as part of my studies. The practical experience gained during the internship appeared to be one of the key success factors when applying for long-term roles after the MBA. In addition, I saw the MBA as an opportunity to get to know different approaches to projects and tasks. I had the chance to not only work with many students from different countries while in Manchester, but also experience another teaching and learning style while I was on exchange. I see this exposure as a great benefit for being flexible and open for a new role and new work environments with different approaches.

What were your goals/ expectations for taking the Manchester MBA and can you give some examples of where these been achieved?

My main expectation when choosing the MBA programme was to obtain a broader business understanding, to build upon my previous narrowly-focussed studies and the chance for a true practical approach when learning new business concepts. The variety of projects I worked on with my colleagues during the programme definitely facilitated the hands-on learning experience. Especially during the final IB project, I had the feeling that everything learnt beforehand fell into place, and we had the chance to prove ourselves in front of external clients.

On reflection, what would you say were the key highlights/ strengths of the Manchester MBA Programme?

I think the key strengths of the programme are its variety and its practical approach. Having the chance to adjust your MBA course based on your own needs, by either focussing more on practical experience during the summer and doing an internship or choosing specific electives to increase the theoretical understanding of a certain subject one might need to further his own career is a great opportunity. I loved going on exchange to Melbourne, as I enjoyed seeing a different teaching style, a new country and increasing my personal network on the other side of the globe. Also the exchange programme increases the variety of electives you can choose from. Finally IB was definitely a highlight, as it was an excellent transition back to work life. Being able to apply the studies on a practical real life case and having the chance to make a true impact for the client makes you realize how much you were able to learn during the programme.

How do you think the Manchester MBA helped you secure your new position? (for example, through your internship/ IB project? Directly through support/ opportunities offered by CMS? The experience gained through the projects helped your application stand out? etc)

I think undertaking the MBA itself was a significant advantage. It is excellent proof of your ability to be open for change, to further develop and to expose yourself in unfamiliar situations outside of your comfort zone. It also enables you to understand your own strengths and weaknesses better, which are always an important aspect of your future job interviews. In addition, being able to show practical work experience outside of my previous role was a definite benefit when applying for my current job.

Why should a prospective MBA consider the Manchester programme?

I think the key differentiators of the Manchester programme is its variety, its practical approach and also its setting amongst a true student city. The programme is the right length to obtain a well rounded MBA experience. You have enough time to cover a lot of different classes and topics, but you still have the chance to gain additional practical experience during the summer and do an internship or attend more electives to increase the theoretical understanding of a certain subject, depending on your own career expectations and requirements. In addition you can go on exchange and experience even more diversity, different teaching styles, a new country and culture and increase your network even further. The amount of practical projects you will work on, and especially IB, make a true difference to the way you will be able to learn and understand new business concepts. And finally I think Manchester is a great city to study in. It is way more affordable than London and has a true student flair.

What advice would you give to future students?

Try to focus more on the chance to learn from other cultures and students instead of just applying your learning and working style as you were used to. There will be disappointments but also huge surprises, especially in project work with so many cultures. But you can learn so much more for the future if you stay open-minded and just try to appreciate the actual experience you make in every single moment.

More Information

University Profile:Alliance Manchester Business School
DBA-Profile::Full-time MBA (12 Months)

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