Career Spotlight: Barbara Strašek Mirnik, MBA

Today in conversation with Barbara Strašek Mirnik, MBA, an alumna of the Professional MBA Automotive Industry. She participated in the class 2010-2012 and is now the Marketing manager, KLS LJUBNO d.o.o., Slovenia.

Why did you decide to participate in this program?
Before applying to the Automotive MBA I was searching for the appropriate MBA study for a longer time as I wanted to upgrade my professional knowledge. My main focus was the additional knowledge that I would get through the MBA and not the academic title nor did I want to use MBA studies for the promotion or getting the new job.

Automotive MBA has two main advantages in my opinion:

  • It is not a general MBA but is focused through all modules on the automotive industry so it is more practice applicable;
  • It is not a full study program, so it enables professionals to combine work and studies.


On what topics did the Master program put the focus on?
The Master program covered through different module all relevant topics for the manager, which were all internationally applicable and practice oriented and focused on the production and logistics.

Did your studies enable you to develop professionally?
Of course. I gained a lot of additional knowledge about the automotive industry from very different people coming from different countries and cultures, from academic to practice automotive background, from junior to senior professionals and also form different organizational forms of the modules.

How did you benefit from the program personally? (Networking, management of relationships)
The 2 year program was very challenging, focused and intense. One had to be very disciplined to combine work, studies and personal life. I met interesting automotive professionals and gained new contact. Our group was small so I hope that the alumni movement will become alive, so that we could increase our professional network and meet other participants also after our MBA studies.

Do you have any advice for our future students?
If we follow continuous improvement principles in business, it is crucial that we follow them for ourselves, which means that we are continuously learning, therefor for automotive executives this program is one of the right steps. It brings more of the added value for individuals from smaller companies than from the multinational companies, which have more organized internal educational and training systems.
I would advise future students the following:

  • Be focused and take the most out of the lectures and lecturers. If you are at module for 4 days, participate at that time actively.
  • Try to apply at least one thing from each module at your work and have that goal in mind during the modules.


What comes to your mind when you think about the program? What were the highlights?
Highlights were definitely very lively class discussions, excursions to the companies and interesting lecturers.

How was the relationship with the academic director / your master thesis supervisor?
I am very grateful that Prof. Sihn had the time to supervise my master thesis. Due to his long and experienced career in the automotive business and Fraunhofer institute and his wide network in the automotive industry, his knowledge is remarkable. With his on time and valuable feedback and my master thesis reviews, I was able to complete it and fine-tune it as planned. For me the most important result is that my master thesis was implemented also in practice.

Can you apply your knowledge on an international level?
Of course. Our company works in international business environment and daily business is global automotive business.  My focus for each model was additional to the new knowledge also applicability, of at least one thing from a module, to our everyday business back home. Looking back, I have to say that I’m really proud that my goal was achieved and that improvements were made due to the knowledge got in class or at the excursions, which bring an important value added to this program.

Do you believe that the program is internationally renowned? What is your experience with your university degree abroad?
As this program is part of the Vienna and Bratislava Technical Universities it is known and very well accepted internationally. 

Women and Technology – how was your qualification accepted on the labor market?
As already mentioned I did not participate in this MBA program in order to get better job or better position. Anyway, it is an advantage for me and for our company as well that I have Automotive MBA qualification. Concerning women and technology it is necessary to point out that, there are many remarkable and competent women on the leading potions in the global automotive industry even though it is more of a masculine industry. In my opinion, there are no obstacles nor pitfalls to achieve this if there is a true strength, knowledge and desire in a woman.

Studying in Austria: what was your experience as an international student?
I have experienced international studies already in my pregraduate studies and I have always found it enriching. Vienna is very beautiful, safe and foreigners’ friendly city and I did not have any bad experience during the 2 years study. There are many things to do in Vienna and due to my very positive experience, I’m continuously returning back to Vienna for a shorter stay with my family.

What is your motto?
 “One step in front of problems and one step in front of competition” is of our family company motto, which is in today competitive and global environment crucial for us.

Which book do you read currently?
The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success and Failure by Ian H. Robertson, which can be perfectly applied in business and personal life as well and which teaches us and scientifically proves that we can all be winners.

(Interview dtd: April 11,  2016)

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