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“What you gain personally matters the most”

Irene Adler, General Manager Global Marketing at Mori Seiki, about her MBA with The Open University Business School: I come from Austria and neither studied economics nor technology and I am not in banking or controlling either. So I guess I am not classic MBA material.


Irene Adler

After A levels I studied languages at a business academy in Vienna. Since 2001 I’m based in Germany and work in marketing and corporate communications for international mechanical engineering companies. After several years in the management for Marketing Asia and Europe for Mori Seiki, a Japanese machine tool manufacturer, I was promoted to General Manager of Global Marketing in 2011.

I decided to do an MBA for two main reasons: I wanted to avoid “tunnel vision” in my day to day business in industry and marketing and also to enhance my ability to think outside the box. Plus I wished to broaden my general business knowledge and my leadership skills. In the end I chose The Open University Business School because I wanted to study in English and at a triple-accredited European business school. Despite a senior role, I managed to complete my MBA at the Open University in three years. Receiving the degree at London's Barbican Centre in March 2012 felt really great!

Because I’m most of the time on business trips the flexibility of distance education is very handy, I did not need to lug heavy books around and often learned by downloading digital versions of the study materials onto my iPad or logging onto the Open University’s online study site. When I needed to talk to someone about my studies, I never felt alone. My tutors helped or I could exchange experiences with fellow students I met during tutorials in Munich and at several residential schooling session in Brussels. While travelling, I used e-mail, telephone or the Open University’s online student platform to communicate. At home in Munich, I met fellow students several times to study together and also sometimes for socialising.

During my studies, Mori Seiki began a strategic partnership with a German machine tool manufacturer and I was appointed by our board to join the internal team that managed the merger and acquisition process. I was very proud to be charged with a task that goes beyond marketing. My MBA studies certainly played a major role in the appointment, in addition to my sound knowledge of the company, my language skills as well as my understanding of working between and with many different cultures.

The decision to study for an MBA was definitely the right choice; I have developed my knowledge beyond marketing which took my career to the next level and I have gained experience in an international global M & A process, being involved in corporate strategy at first hand. After all, I was the first woman to be promoted General Manager in the history of the company.

However, I do believe that doing an MBA makes only sense if you can apply the new knowledge at work directly and correctly. It is definitely a good idea to have some work experience before you opt for an MBA. Also I consider it important to expand beyond the horizon of the area in which you are already a specialist. I am a marketing buff and at class developed myself in finance, M&A, corporate strategy and currency management. Financial Strategy for example was a very useful module for me, even if I found it challenging. Monetary management was also handy in gaining a better understanding of a global company. I also enjoyed strategy a lot. And the Tutor Marked Assignments helped me in enhancing practical skills such as communicating messages clearly and concisely. This keeps on helping me tremendously today when I have to prepare reports and presentations to our Board.

I can recommend an MBA programme for working women with no background in economics. But I also believe one should study for an MBA to make a difference to both, your professional and your personal life. The classes are demanding, and it is not easy to manage work and study at the same time. If you choose an MBA only to advance your career you might be disappointed. What you personally win through your studies, matters the most.

Open University

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