My name is Laura Céline Schildknecht and I am from Germany. Before university, I completed my IB (International Baccalaureate) at Marymount International School in London as a boarding student. In pursuit of a Liberal Arts education, I joined the first cohort to be taught BA Liberal Arts at the University of Warwick in 2016. Next to my pathway in Film and Television, I studied a broad range of subjects across the humanities and social sciences, ranging from Design Thinking to Sustainability, Art History and Philosophy. Liberal Arts has taught me to think critically by examining issues from a multidisciplinary perspective. I graduated in the top 3% and won the prize for the most-outstanding dissertation. The title of my dissertation was: “Crack the Code, Solve the Crime”: How Pastiche and Repetition Construct and Deconstruct Encoded Meaning in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
What was behind your decision to move from a BA in Liberal Arts to an MSc in Management?
Considering my creativity and inclination towards the arts, I wanted to pursue a career in the film industry. However, when I was doing an internship at one of Germany’s largest television networks at the intersection between creative talents and business executives, an in-house creative consulting agency, I came to the realisation that I found the work and culture of the business side, where I could potentially have greater impact with my ideas and be involved in decision-making processes and strategy formulation, much more interesting. Seeing strategy consultants and executives at work also showed me that my skillset didn’t necessarily predestine me to become a film director, but could also accelerate my career in management consulting or on the business side of a media company. I readjusted my career ambitions and I chose to study a master’s in management at a top business school to facilitate this transition. The aim was to compliment my creativity, interdisciplinary and critical thinking with business acumen and structured and analytic thinking.
Why did you decide to study at WBS?
There were a couple of reasons. Aside from the excellent international rankings, I chose WBS for its excellent teaching and research quality, interdisciplinary modules that matched and extended my Liberal Arts background perfectly and industry connections, which make it a target school for the most sought-after companies in Europe. As a campus-based business school at the University of Warwick, WBS is in an environment where many departments are have top-ranked courses and academic staff who are thought leaders in their field. Therefore, the notion that business problems should be addressed from multiple perspectives is deeply rooted into the culture at WBS. As a former Liberal Arts student, this outlook appealed to me. Finally, I received a scholarship for the MSc Management course, which showed to me that WBS recognises the potential of students with unconventional backgrounds like myself.
What are the key things you took away from your course?
While learning about business in theory and practice and gaining business acumen are obvious takeaways, less direct and even more important learnings were the way in which studying Msc Management changed the way I think and approach problems. While I brought the strengths of creativity, interdisciplinary and critical thinking and approaching problems from multiple perspectives to my master studies from my BA, I benefitted immensely from the way the course pushed me to think in structured, analytic and quantitative terms. Now, I don’t only approach problems creatively and with multiple perspectives, but also strategically by working with hypothesis, prioritising perspectives and driving for results. The combination of my BA and MSc has given my profile a really unique value proposition in the job market.
What was your favourite module and why?
This is a really tough choice, because it’s hard to pick only one module, but if I have to choose, it would probably be “Business Immersion and Critical Thinking” (BICT). I liked BICT a lot because the module leader and course director of the MiM program, Dr David Elmes, delivered this module in an incredibly inspiring and engaging way. BICT seeks to offer the skills and knowledge needed accelerate the understanding of what it takes to manage an organisation overall. It is a multi-disciplinary module, including different disciplines like strategy and game theory, operations, accounting and finance and macro- and micro-economics into one module, helping students to understand the bigger picture of managing a firm and how the different disciplines converge. BICT was intense (running over 2 terms instead of 1), fast-paced and intellectually challenging – it was a great bootcamp to acquire valuable skills and mindset of a manager in a short time.
Did you utilise the WBS CareersPlus team whilst you were studying at WBS? How did they help you?
The WBS CareersPlus Team was really helpful and I am still in touch with them beyond the official end of my studies in September 2020. Through CareersPlus, I was able to gain invaluable support in preparing for consulting case interviews, matching me with practice partners and building my professional network.
What would you say to someone thinking of applying for your course at WBS, especially if they are not from a ‘business’ undergraduate?
Just do it! If you’re considering applying to WBS, chances are, you have the big picture thinking necessary to move from your non-business background to a master’s in management. Regarding the ability to achieve excellent marks (70+) – with hard work and consistency, it is possible! Even though the disciplinary change from BA Liberal Arts to MSc Management at WBS was challenging and involved a steep learning curve, it was completely worth it. Without prior knowledge of business or a quantitative background, I will achieve a distinction overall.
Whether you want to pursue a management career in your current discipline or make a disciplinary change, an MSc degree from WBS will accelerate your learning and make your professional profile more competitive. The modern workplace embraces people from different academic backgrounds. This is because innovation today emerges at the cross-section between different disciplines. For instance, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPad 2 in March 2011, he said: “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough – it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that make our heart sing” (Lehrer, 2011).
An MSc at WBS will give you business acumen and confidence to “talk the talk” in any business environment. It is the necessary fundament to help you stand out with your competitive edge – the skills you’ve learned at undergraduate level or in a previous job that are non-business related.
What are your tips for getting the most out of an MSc for those just starting their degree?
Next to getting the most out of your classes, my top tip would be to get involved with business-related societies like Warwick Kickstart, Warwick Finance Society and Warwick Consulting Society.
Societies are a great way to meet people with common interests, network with inspiring speakers and companies and if you land an exec role, you’ll also learn valuable on-the-job skills.
Especially if you have a non-business background, I would recommend you get in touch with WBS CareersPlus early in the year. The CareersPlus Team is very helpful and experienced in placing students at top firms. They will be able to give you valuable tips on best practices in application processes and how you should enhance your skillset to become a competitive applicant for the job you aspire to have. Additionally, make the most out of on-campus careers events and lecture series – there will be on-campus recruiting events and corporate networking events all year round – building your professional network is very important and will help you get a job!
Lastly, don’t forget about the work-life balance. Changing disciplines can be tough and requires a lot of hard work – therefore, it is even more important that you take care of yourself, fill your free time with hobbies and meet friends. I myself found a great outlet through sports in the Warwick Gym (second largest gym in the UK!), sight-seeing at National Trust houses (highly recommend Hidcote) and meeting friends for coffee in the NAIC café.