"Enjoy every moment of the journey" My experience joining the first Executive MBA cohort

07 March 2023

We are excited to be welcoming the 50th cohort of the Executive MBA programme at WBS, to celebrate we are looking back and sharing some of our alumni stories. Juergen Siebenrock, who was part of our very first cohort in 1993, shares his experience on the programme and how it has supported his career development. 

What has the Executive MBA allowed you to achieve?

In order to answer this question I went back to my original application which states: "I believe that working and studying with people from all over the world would be a great cross-cultural experience. The MBA is a professional and personal challenge and furtherance of a person's individual development." Looking back at my time at Warwick Business School (WBS) my expectations were more than achieved. Having graduated from a traditional German university, the WBS approach to teaching pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Tackling case studies with such a diverse and highly motivated cohort was totally new to me and helped me hone my analytical and communication skills. Debating and presenting the advantages and disadvantages of available options based on more than words but using practical data proved to be great training for my future career. Engaging with students from different professional and cultural backgrounds was very motivating and gave me many insights in how Germans are perceived abroad! It goes without saying that my proficiency in English took a massive leap and proved to be an asset in my career development, as our company moved to internationalise its management team.

Finally, I can say that from day one the constant exchange between what I learnt in the classroom and my daily work as a Junior Manager provided a testing ground for my newly acquired management tools. This is what made the WBS experience so valuable to me and prepared me for all the uncertainties ahead.

What opportunities came out as a result of gaining an Executive MBA?

Taking on more and more responsibilities from Junior Manager to Vice President of the Lufthansa Group’s biggest markets, my career took me to countries such as Spain, Brazil and the USA. This allowed me to adapt to diverse cultural and economic environments. There were defining situations in my career where many of the tools and skills I learnt at WBS helped me cope with these "moments of truth” and I feel I was able to show my best on these occasions.

What are your fondest memories?

There are many good memories from my time at WBS. Apart from all the great courses and lectures, I was introduced to many intricacies of British life. One was the delights of Indian cuisine. My co-students took to me to the best Indian restaurants in the world, on our frequent trips to Coventry and Birmingham, whilst teaching me to drive on the wrong side of the road, especially when coming back from our outings.

One memory that really sticks out was our graduation ceremony. Something that was not common in Germany at the time. Dressing up in a cloak and hat was a very memorable experience. The fact that there was not a hat in my size caused a chuckle amongst the organisers and still makes me laugh when looking at photos from the ceremony today. This memory was made even more special to me as I had recently married and my wife and newborn son joined me in the celebrations.

Who was your favourite lecturer?

Professor Peter Doyle... what an exceptional and inspiring academic and lecturer! He took us on an amazing marketing journey that questioned, stimulated and excited us. It was a privilege and honour to write my dissertation under his supervision.

How have you changed as a person?

I believe that earning an MBA comes with lots of challenges but also with lots of benefits. We all want to trust our instincts, but very few have the courage to do that. Being forced out of my comfort zone repeatedly has helped me develop both on a personal and professional level. Having to learn new languages and adapting to unfamiliar surroundings has taught me lessons in humility, and made me a better listener and ultimately a better leader.

What piece of advice would you give those starting an Executive MBA?

Enjoy every moment of the journey. Engage with your peers and tutors as much as possible. Be curious and remember that your learning journey does not end with your MBA. Make it a point to take regular learning breaks and keep educating yourself along your career path in order to challenge your assumptions and habits.