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Personal and professional development: an MBA case study

This article originally appeared in Ambition, AMBA’s thought leadership publication (in print and online), and has been republished on this website with the permission of AMBA.

Author: Tim Dhoul (Content Editor, AMBA & BGA)

Google Key Account Manager and Digital Marketing Consultant, Guy Luchting, tells Tim Dhoul how studying for an MBA has impacted his career journey.

While studying for his bachelor’s degree in the Netherlands, Guy Luchting was selected for an internship at Dutch multinational, Heineken. The application process was unusual. Interviewees, including Guy, were secretly filmed as they responded to unexpected situations, such as being led to the interview room by the hand or the interviewer passing out mid-interview.

The resulting footage was used to create a viral marketing video, which amassed 2.8 million views within a week and has now had more than 5 million views. Known as ‘The Candidate’, it picked up a Gold Lion PR award at 2013’s Cannes Lions Festival. For Guy, who hails from Germany, it was an early opportunity to gauge where his career interests lay.

He reflects: ‘I was a great fan of Heineken advertising back in the day; I was studying hospitality management and watched all of the company’s YouTube videos. I see now that this was the beginning of my passion for advertising and creativity – I just didn’t know it then. Overall, it was an amazing opportunity, and an amazing stunt.’

The public attention the campaign, and associated footage, received took a little longer for Guy to come to terms with. ‘In the beginning, it was a lot of attention,’ he recalls. ‘I got recognised on the street, for example. I know this is weird, but it took me some time to say, proudly, that I was part of this, without feeling like I was showing off.’

Ultimately, however, he is grateful for the experience and how he benefited from it: ‘What I got from the internship was that I wanted to work in a creative advertising agency. I still follow what Heineken is doing. I think the company is a pioneer and an example of best practice in advertising.’

Developing a personal vision

Fast forward six years and Guy is now a Key Account Manager and Digital Marketing Consultant at Google, based in Dublin, working with clients who represent some of Germany’s top retail chains.

‘It’s a mixture [that involves] advising them on the digital market, technical troubleshooting and stakeholder management,’ he says, explaining that his role takes him to his home country of Germany frequently for meetings and workshops on product solutions with clients.

Guy Luchting.

Guy’s current role is his first since completing an MBA at ESCP Europe and the latest instalment in a career journey that has provided ongoing insights into what motivates him at work and what he excels at.

He explains that his desire to join Google stemmed from his Business School experience. ‘At ESCP, I developed a personal vision, and from that, I derived what I wanted to do and identified companies that would be aligned with this vision. Google was one of these companies. I wanted to work in an international environment and to learn from the best. When I read the job description and the nature of the job, I was hooked. I was reading it and I thought, “this is me”.’

Guy believes that it is not a job he could have done prior to his MBA. ‘Without it, my mindset would not have been ready to apply for a company like Google,’ he says.

Despite the current ‘techlash’ against Silicon Valley’s tech giants, he is quick to emphasise the strength of Google’s position when it comes to recruiting top talent. ‘If you are into business, but business with a purposeful twist, and you want to have an impact, then this is the company to work for,’ he argues. ‘The culture at Google is unique in so many ways that it will attract, and hopefully, retain people who are looking for something more, who are open-minded and see the big picture. I think that Google will continue to attract great talent, especially MBAs.’

While he does not feel able to comment on the current debate around privacy and the EU’s introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, he points to the importance Google places on its users. ‘The users are the centre of everything,’ he says. ‘Without them, Google wouldn’t be anything. If you don’t respect that, there won’t be a business and you won’t achieve anything. Google is a purposeful company, it’s more than earning money, it’s all the services that Google users can use for free, such as Google Maps, Gmail and Android [the mobile operating system developed by Google].’

Purposeful twist

This ‘purposeful twist’ is something Guy had been searching for prior to his MBA, when the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party rose to prominence in Germany ahead of the country’s federal elections in 2017. ‘The AfD gained a lot of traction in Germany and I was really shocked, thinking “this is not the Germany I want to believe in”,’ he explains.

At the time, he was working in Hamburg for the creative advertising agency, Jung von Matt/Havel, but took the opportunity to move to the company’s Berlin office to work on the election campaign for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This project, during which he coordinated the production of advertising across TV, online and social media channels and drew up presentations for his superior to present to the Chancellor, was his last at the agency before he opted to embark on an MBA.

‘I was looking to change, although I never thought I would do a master’s degree. Then a friend of mine applied for Harvard and I thought, “well, if he is applying for Harvard, I can at least try for a master’s!”’.

ESCP Europe stood out because of its international dimension, the programme’s length and the fact that it would not require him to sit the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). ‘I was scared of
the GMAT and was working 10-14 hours a day already, plus weekends, and I thought, “I’m never going to be able to do that”,’ he admits.

‘It was all really spontaneous, but I liked the admissions process; it felt personal and I think you can see this in the people who joined the MBA. I went to the Berlin campus and was talking to a programme manager and one other person involved in the MBA. It was a nice, open talk and you could really tell what ESCP was about.’

Valuing diversity

Guy took full advantage of ESCP Europe’s international and multi-campus opportunities. ‘I did half a year in Paris and half a year in Madrid, and I went to Turin, London and Berlin,’ he says, before enthusing about the varied (personal and professional) backgrounds of his classmates; one had been working in Syria’s oil industry while another was a former shopping centre manager from the Philippines, for example. This level of diversity was valuable, although he admits he ‘should have asked way more questions and listened more’.

Having finished the programme in the summer of 2018, the class remains in touch, reuniting for graduation in December and establishing an active WhatsApp group. One of Guy’s former classmate even started working at Google at the same time as him, allowing for frequent catch ups.

Guy stresses that his MBA boosted both his personal and professional development. ‘It helped me to develop myself and my
self-confidence, to learn and strategise about my future,’ he says. He also valued the School’s use of the case study method greatly. ‘I enjoyed the cases – you really saw what the main problem is and how one can go about solving it,’ he says, adding that this has helped him to apply a more structured approach to problem solving in his current role.

Eight months into his job at Google and armed with a greater awareness of his career aims and motivations, Guy is focusing on developing in his current role.

‘My priority is to learn my job well; it’s complex and challenging,’ he says. ‘I enjoy working with clients and giving presentations, and I like the proactiveness and the business approach of sales.’

While he does not know what the future might hold, he is fully aware of the part his MBA experience has played in getting him to where he is now. ‘Without it, I would not be where I am,’ he admits. ‘I am really happy right now. It really changed my life.’

MaastrichtMBA releases EuroMBA Online track

As of 1 January 2020, MaastrichtMBA expands its successful international executive MBA programme with an online track, called EuroMBA Online. The structural design of this track is based on 25 years of experience acquired within the EuroMBA; one of the first MBAs managed by six European partner universities, including Maastricht University. Parts of the existing EuroMBA programme structure will be revised and copied into MaastrichtMBA. The current independent EuroMBA consortium and programme will cease to exist and the EuroMBA consortium will be dissolved.

Increased flexibility

The EuroMBA Online track will consist of ten online courses, complemented by three residential weeks on campus. Students follow one week of classes at Maastricht University and decide where to spend the other two residential weeks. They can choose from four partner universities.

MaastrichtMBA’s new EuroMBA Online track will run in parallel with the programme’s current Executive track, which offers participants eight educational weeks in a face-to-face format. The online track allows participants greater flexibility when travelling around the world or while working from a remote location, which for some professionals will ease the balance between work, study and private life.

Quality assured

MaastrichtMBA is part of UMIO, the executive branch of Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics. With a Triple Crown accreditation from the international quality assurance bodies AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA, the business school enjoys maximum international recognition as part of a select group of 1% of all educational institutes worldwide. The MaastrichtMBA programme is also acknowledged by the Dutch-Flemish accreditation organisation, NVAO.

MBA students who successfully complete the new EuroMBA Online track starting at 1 January 2020, will thus receive an MBA diploma from Maastricht University that is officially recognised by the Dutch Ministry of Education.

Introducing our MaastrichtMBA students to Service Science

Innovative thinking is an important part of the MaastrichtMBA programme, in particular through the module ‘Sustaining Competitive Advantage’. In this module, UMIO’s Service Science Factory (SSF) provides participants with the necessary mind-set, processes and tools to improve the innovation capacity of their organisation. This is far from a theoretical exercise. Because participants practice service design tools and experience all stages of the innovation process during these sessions, they become empowered to implement processes and tools in their own organisation.

Bridging academia and practice

This is typical for the approach of SSF: it bridges academia and practice, facilitating companies to gain sustainable competitive advantages through service innovation. SSF has realized the potential of service innovation in different organisations through more than 50 projects, using a state-of-the-art project approach, making use of proven service design tools and multi-disciplinary teams that stimulate co-creation.

The right perspective

As a method, (Service) Design Thinking addresses complex challenges, by embracing the perspective of the end-users, when creatively prototyping new product or service offerings. Industry leaders such as Apple, McKinsey, and Mayo Clinic, place this approach at the centre of their business activities, and IBM even proclaims it wants to become “the world’s largest and most sophisticated design company”.

Practical results

The MaastrichtMBA innovation module consists of five sessions. During the final session, the teams present their innovation ideas and underlying business concepts to an expert panel, which provides practical tips for improving and implementing the ideas. The best ideas were rewarded with a panel prize and an audience prize.

Get in touch

There are several ways SSF can support you and your organization in exploring the value that ‘Interaction Design’ can provide. For instance by facilitating innovation projects for the improvement or development of new services which incorporate the ‘Interaction Design’-perspective.

Learning opportunities

There is a range of educational trajectories available where we train professionals to incorporate the ‘Interaction Design’-perspective into their daily work and specific projects.
As an introduction to the world of ‘Interaction Design’ we have developed a hands-on inspiration day for professionals, where you will work on a case, take the customer perspective and start designing interactions for delightful experiences. Feel free to contact us for more information.

Session Instructors

Dr. Dominik Mahr, Scientific Director Service Science Factory
Dominik is an Associate Professor at the Marketing and Supply Chain Management department of Maastricht University. As Scientific Director of the Service Science Factory (SSF), he is responsible for a wide range of services that create new and improve existing offers of companies.

 

 

Dr. Elisabeth Brüggen, Professor of Marketing
Elisabeth (Lisa) Brüggen is Professor of Marketing at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE). She is an internationally recognized expert in services marketing and financial well-being, particularly regarding pension communications.

 

 

 

Damien Nunes, Service Designer Service Science Factory
Damien has a background in design and is currently project leader and service designer at the Service Science Factory (SSF). He facilitates projects, workshops and inspires creativity within (project)groups to develop new innovative service concepts.

 

 

Sabine Janssen, Msc, Project Leader Service Science Factory
Sabine has a background in strategic marketing and business experience in corporate communications, strategic consultancy and innovation management. Her focus as project leader at SSF is design thinking, service innovation and project management and educating professionals in these respective fields.

 

 

Download the complete Experience Report

 

New and extended accreditations for MaastrichtMBA

We’re happy to share the news that the MaastrichtMBA has been granted NVAO accreditation (by the nederlands-vlaamse accreditatieorganisatie). On top of the existing international Triple Crown accreditation of AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA, this confirms that UMIO’s MaastrichtMBA is among the best in the world.

The NVAO accreditation is an important national quality seal. It also carries practical advantages, such as the opportunity to apply for government-supported loans and funding options (see below for more details).

In related news, the Association of MBAs (AMBA) has confirmed the re-accreditation of the MaastrichtMBA for the maximum period of five years, placing the MaastrichtMBA firmly in the top tier of MBA programs globally.

MBA Director Boris Blumberg extended a heartfelt thanks to his MBA team for these two notable achievements: “the crucial people, who over the last five years, have put so much continuous commitment and positive energy into the programme”.

NVAO & LIFELONG LEARNING CREDIT

An important practical advantage of the NVAO accreditation is that MaastrichtMBA students can get funding through the “Lifelong learning credit“ (Levenlanglerenkrediet). You can apply for lifelong learning credit through “Mijn DUO”. Visit the DUO website to check whether you fit the criteria.