Career Spotlights

Get to know the graduates of the Professional MBA Automotive Industry Program .

Find out why they have decided just on this MBA program and what professional career changes they have made.

Today in conversation with Mag. Alexandra Steiner, MBA, an alumna of the Professional MBA Automotive Industry. She participated in the class 2013-2015 and is now the Head of Sales & Portfolio Tier 1 Customers at Continental Automotive Austria GmbH.

Why did you decide to participate in this program?
My former boss was part of the first cycle of PMBA Automotive Industry and I thought it might be a good program to complement my academic education and sharpen my view towards the automotive industry.


On what topics did the Master program put the focus on?
It wasn’t so much as focused on only one or two area/s but a well thought through composition of complementing courses. From basics like Finance (Controlling and Accounting) and Management (Managerial Economics and Management Science), to legal aspects, over very automotive shaped lectures like Automotive Technology and Automotive Production and Logistics.

What did you expect from the program? Have your expectations been met?
As I was more or less aware what to expect due to the experience of my former supervisor, my expectations were met. Basically one can expect to get a broad view on areas that are important if you are or want to lead business in the automotive industry. It is a very good completion of skill sets, especially if you have a technical educational background.

How did the master program influence your professional life?
Well, since the program was scheduled from Thursday to Sunday basically once a month – the effect on the personal life was not that drastic. If you add the homework and studying effort it surely effects your personal habits and also your family duties but in a manageable way – so far as to my experience.

How did you benefit from the program personally? (Networking, management of relationships)
Personally, it was one of the most remarkable experiences so far. I had to chance to work with some very great minds and got to exchange with and learn from them during the period of all-in-all 2 years. That is not only in regards to my fellow students but more so to the program directors, lecturers and people we got to know on field trips.

Do you have any advice for our future students?
Go for it! Enjoy the ride and pour your heart and soul in it – it will be rewarded on the one or the other level.

What comes to your mind when you think about the program? What were the highlights?
In the full awareness of the risk to repeat my valedictorian speech – the socializing with the team after class. In all seriousness – the highlight was the first course of accounting which was deemed to be very challenging, which it was. It was the most intense nevertheless rewarding experience – as strange as it sounds. Also most of the field trips are still in my mind.

Can you apply your knowledge on an international level?
Most certainly yes. Since the program did offer international aspects in most of the courses it generated know-how on a broad basis.

Did the program enhance your international career or did it open the door to an international career?
If you are being offered career steps it is seldom based on only one reason but multiple factors that come into play. For my point I can only say that the experience of the PMBA program shaped my focus on what I want to achieve in my professional life and this determination helps you to become visible in some ways.
   
Women and Technology – how was your qualification accepted on the labor market?
Eagerness to learn and understand things that might alienate you in the first moment.  

Today in conversation with DI (FH) Roland Hintringer, MBA, an alumnus of the Professional MBA Automotive Industry. He participated in the class 2013-2015 and is now Vice President Technology and Innovation at MIBA AG.

Why did you decide to participate in the Professional MBA Automotive Industry Program?
After several years in management positions in research and development I was looking to improve in strategy management and leadership skills. Further, I wanted to get insight in production and operations management. This MBA program offers an outstanding curriculum with focus on the automotive industry. I don’t know any other high quality MBA program with that focus. Thus, it was very clear to me that this is the right choice.

How did you benefit from the program personally? (Networking, management of relationships)

The program gave me a chance to broaden my horizons, enhance my management skills and enhance my network across the automotive industry. Our team included  people from varied cultures as well as different areas of the automotive business – from R&D, purchasing and production to financing and sales. During many discussions I have really enjoyed getting deeper insights in their profession. Furthermore, we had great lecturers from the industry. They were very open and I could built up a good relationship with them. I am still in contact with a few of the lecturers.

What comes to your mind when you think about the program? What were the highlights?
Most of the lecturers had active high-level management positions in the industry. This offered great insights to the “real life” in automotive business. This combined with the academic program added up to an outstanding experience.

Could you please describe your career development during and after the program?

During the second year of the MBA program I was asked to join the MIBA AG - a global automotive component supplier - as Vice President Technology and Innovation. In this position I am coordinating research and development and I am focusing on the future needs of the company’s product portfolio. The MBA program certainly gave a push in this career step.

Can you apply your knowledge on an international level?
I have always worked for global companies. Thus it was important for me to attend a program with international orientation. The MBA program contributed knowledge in many areas and can be applied on international level.

Do you have any advice for our future students?
Decide as early as possible about the topic of your master thesis. That way you can directly use the inputs from the lectures and save lots of time in the last semester.

What is your motto?
Michael Schumacher once said “There’s always room at the front”. If you are in the leading position you have more room to maneuver. That is very true for business.

Which book do you read currently?
We are implementing methods of industry 4.0 and big data analytics in our organization. Thus, I am currently reading the book “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction” by Daniel Gardner and Philip E. Tetlock

Today in conversation with Mag. (FH) Markus Ganahl, MBA, an alumnus of the Professional MBA Automotive Industry. He participated in the class 2013-2015 and is now the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Hirschmann Automotive, Austria.

What did you expect form the program? Have your expectation been met?
After a successful career in the food industry I changed jobs and started a new opportunity in the automotive industry. Having specific expertise and a deep understanding about the specific challenges, networks, structures, processes, systems, standards and regulations etc. is core to be successful in this global and demanding industry. Consequently, I decided to enhance my automotive know-how by participating in this program in parallel to learning on the job.

How did the MBA program influence your professional life?
Although further professional development was not my primary motivation to participate in the program, meanwhile I changed jobs and was promoted to become the Director of Production and Technology at Hirschmann Automotive.

What were the highlights of the program?
My personal highlights were the excursions to different OEMs and Tier 1s.

Could you describe the benefits which you earn?
The program allowed me to get to know many experts from the automotive industry, which resulted in a very fruitful know-how exchange. Moreover, we became a very harmonic team and friends. Still today we stay connected and meet from time to time, as far as possible in our busy agendas.

What comes to your mind when you think about the program? What were the highlights?
I received loads of insights from the different excursions, lessons and case-studies throughout the program.

Can you apply your knowledge on an international level?
The automotive industry is a truly global industry, and so is the company I work for. Therefore my knowledge is applied on an international level every single work-day.

What is your motto?
Actually I have two: Lifelong learning and Lead by example.

Which book do you read currently?
Currently I am reading the book „Six Sigma - Kompakt und praxisnah: Prozessverbesserung effizient und erfolgreich implementieren” to update and upgrade my know-how about the six sigma tools and how to apply them using the minitab software.

(Interview dtd: May 9, 2016)

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)

Today in conversation with Ms. Ing. Zuzana Šolopová, MBA, an alumna of the Professional MBA Automotive Industry  Class 2011-2013.

Why did you decide to participate in this program?
Since I have graduated university, I never managed to finish my education. International certificates of welding and other technical and quality training programmes improved my professional background on technical level, but I have beenmissing information and knowledge from a higher perspective to understand better the relationship between processes and people. I chose this MBA program to enlarge my knowledge.

Can you describe the program in three sentences?
Full of new expectations and their results.
When you find the way how to understand real added value of this program, the graduation ceremony is coming.
Too short to see your colleagues growth.

How did you benefit from the program personally? (Networking, management of relationships)
The program changed my view on the business and my own role. I realized one important fact – my position in the company is not so important as the way how the job is done. This approach changed my view on my colleagues, customers and suppliers.

Do you have any advice for our future students?
Just try to do something for you, for your life, not only for professional one. This is the best opportunity to get the right information in the right time from the right person.

What comes to your mind when you think about the program? What were the highlights?
Basic information from finance, tasks solving under time pressure, team work and motivation. All these topics will help me to better organize my personal and professional life which is an additional value from this study that I fully recommend.

Can you apply your knowledge on an international level?
Surprisingly, much easier than on the local level. Some of the know-how is not acknowledged in the local business. However, you can be the right person who can kick-off the local business to the global one.

Do you believe that the program is internationally renowned? What is your experience with your university degree abroad?
The MBA study and graduation are the best point in my CV. Even out of automotive industry. Especially the fact, that study runs in English.

Studying in Austria: what was your experience as an international student?
I realized that requirements and studying procedures can be very different between the nations and mentors. I did not observe any discrimination, derogation or misprision. Very friendly atmospehre between mentors and classmates.

What is your motto?
„You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.“ – Margaret Thatcher

Which book do you read currently?
Slavomír Steigauf – Leadership

(Interview dtd. February  15, 2016)

Today in conversation with Sebastian Predica, MBA, Corporate Sales Manager, Peugeot Romania, Alumnus of the Professional MBA Automotive Industry class 2010-2012

Why did you decide to participate in this program?
I decide to participate in this program because I saw a very good opportunity to develop myself as a manager in my future career in automotive industry. The future of automotive industry is now decided on one hand by actual economic conditions and on the other hand by the new technologies applied in terms of “green cars”. In these times you should be prepared for new challenges and quick changes.

Can you describe the program in three sentences?

  • Professional;
  • Intense;
  • Business oriented.

How did you benefit from the program personally? (Networking, management of relationships)
It was a great opportunity for me to develop business and personal relationships with my teachers and colleagues. In fact, I have met colleagues and after a few meetings in Vienna we became friends.

Do you have any advice for our future students?
My advice for future students is to be always curious and to accept challenges in their career. That can help develop both personally and professionally. Automotive MBA program in Vienna University is a challenge, but the results are more than expectations.

What comes to your mind when you think about the program? What were the highlights?
First thing that comes in my mind is about the applicability of each module in the practice. Each end of the modules was dedicated to explore the practice in a factory or in a commercial area, without exception, even if it was about HR, Accounting or Sales processes.

Can you apply your knowledge on an international level?
Yes, that’s one of the most important benefits from an MBA. I believe that such a program should lead to a better view to an OEM business and can keep together specialists who speak the same business language.

Do you believe that the program is internationally renowned? What is your experience with your university degree abroad? Studying in Austria: what was your experience as an international student?
I was waiting each week to travel to Vienna. Besides the city, where the culture is at home, the University is one of the oldest from Europe. It was a multi-cultural environment and a cross-cultural one too. Even that most of my colleagues were engineers, the culture diversity was for me the most important experience as an international student.

What is your motto?
„Business is rooted in human resources.“

Which book do you read currently?
Matsushita Leadership by John P. Kotter

(Interview dtd. June 17, 2014)

Today in conversation with DI (FH) Gregor Gratschner, MBA, Horex GmbH Augsburg, Supply Chain Manager and Alumnus of the Professional MBA Automotive Industry class 2011-2013

Why did you decide to participate in this program?
I decided to participate in this program in order to acquire the necessary qualifications for an executive career in the automotive industry. As I owned a degree in Automotive Engineering already and was used to perform in sophisticated industrial projects for nearly a decade, somehow it seemed necessary to focus on more management oriented fields of interest in order to open doors that may have stayed closed else. The professional MBA in Automotive Industry thus simply seemed to be the right key.

What did you expect from the program? Have your expectations been met?

My expectations were rather high before the program started. I expected an expansion of my knowledge by segments not covered so far in my academic career. As my professional background was strongly linked to R&D and production areas, I was eager to learn more about economics, law, quality and entrepreneurship. Most of these subjects of my specific personal interest were covered very well during the course and met my own high expectations. However, in the end the course content expectations were even exceeded by the team aspects. We were a great group of students, just the right mix of people coming from all kinds of different nations and professional automotive backgrounds. The strength and social cohesion the group developed throughout the course was overwhelming. The team building session right at the beginning of the program certainly helped to form our group quickly and smoothly, which was great.

Did your studies enable you to develop professionally?

I changed jobs right after finishing my MBA. From a job in the automotive supplier industry, where I was responsible for the development department of motorcycle exhausts at an exhaust manufacturer, to a motorcycle OEM, where I am now in charge of the engine supply chain. Working at an OEM was an aim long worked for. The door to the motorcycle OEM could be opened by integrating part of their start up story as a case study into my MBA master’s thesis. Consequently, yes, the program helped me to develop professionally.

How did you benefit from the program personally? (Networking, management of relationships)

We, as a group of students, were lucky enough to get along well with each others. More like friends than like just colleagues. This proved all the more that trust and mutual respect are essential for successful (professional) relationships. I am still in contact with many of my colleagues, for professional as well as for private reasons, some even combined, which is probably the best output you can get from a well working network.

Do you have any advice for our future students?

There are two factors to consider. First, the MBA in Automotive Industry is what you make of it. It provides a prosper basis of continuing education, filling academic gaps and expanding your professional network. You have to work hard everywhere, if you want to achieve a certain aim. This is also the case with this degree course, but what will surprise you most when you participate in this program is that you will benefit in particular from the people, i.e. colleagues, program responsibles, lecturers, experts from the industry, joining you in this program. So open your mind, for others’ opinions, attitudes and experiences. Second, plan everything far ahead. Good time management will be your best friend during those two years this course lasts. Your family and friends will also be happy, if you save a little bit of spare time for them as well besides your demanding everyday job and studies. Don’t forget to schedule also a little bit of spare time for yourself, simply to recover.

What comes to your mind when you think about the program? What were the highlights?
The first thing that comes to my mind about the program is that I always looked forward to the monthly study sessions in Vienna, or Bratislava. We had fruitful and challenging discussions among the students and lecturers during the course lessons. The exchange of knowledge and experience was in fact refreshing and inspiring. There were several excursions in Austria and Slovakia to thrilling and very interesting works and companies. Vienna and Bratislava, where the lessons take place, are also lovely places to stay, not just for studying but also for that little bit of spare time spent in the evening.

Did the program enhance your international career or did it open the door to an international career?

It opened the door to an OEM, which is what I wanted to achieve. Apart from that I strongly believe that this MBA degree is certainly very positive when applying for sophisticated positions in the automotive industry in general, domestically as well as internationally.

Do you believe that the program is internationally renowned? What is your experience with your university degree abroad?

It seems to be rather well known in Germany, as I have been contacted by potential students that were asking me about my experiences in this specific MBA course via XING. As this program is the only MBA focusing on the automotive industry, I believe it has good potential to grow even more peasant in reputation. Besides, each class consists of students coming from several different nations, as already mentioned; consequently it must be internationally renowned already. Surely, the more qualified professionals participate in this program and later become the perfect ambassadors of the program as alumni, the better it will be for the long term perspective of this master’s degree course, as for its international reputation as such.

What is your motto?

Keep the faith

Which book do you read currently?

Actually, it’s called ‚Die obere Hälfte des Motorrads’, translated ’The upper half of a motorcycle’ by Bernt Spiegel and ’Der Fabrikant’, translated ’The manufacturer’, the life story of Erwin Junker.

(Interview dtd. May 09, 2014)

Today in conversation with: Ing. Peter Chudoba, MBA (Managing Director, Friction Group Miba Steeltec s.r.o., Slovakia), Alumnus Class 2009-2011

Why did you decide to participate in this program?
After several years of various leadership functions in Operations Management in Slovakia and Italy, I was „hungry“ for new kind of challenges in different environments than Production. My aim was to complete my experience path with additional knowledge/insights from different „corners“ of the Industry... I always tried to keep in touch with the best in class performers and indeed, this was the motivator behind. It was great to have the topics discussed with accredited professors and professionals invited to the classes. Additionally, there’s been a huge value hidden in the different insights from each classmate in the group, who represented customers/competitors of my company.

How did you benefit from the program personally? (Networking, management of relationships)
Well, I have to admit the time spent in this program was very challenging for me personally, as well as for my family and the company. It has contributed to my managerial development in many aspects... first of all in improving the team-work skills and interaction inside a group of managers. The network of class mates and post-graduate appointments and business events organized through the MBA program offered a decisive advantage… Indeed, the program combined 8 different nationals from OEM’s, Tier_1, Tier_2 and other environments. It has offered an insight into the complexity of managerial work, as well as an overall – „Helicopter“ view on the Automotive Industry as a whole. Through the Program, I have grown from a „department“ manager with unilateral focus and point of view, into a “Leader able to understand and cope with the present & future demands of a global industry”.

After having accomplished the studies, I have been challenged by new position which embraced my expertise / experience out of Operations with the knowledge gathered in “Professional MBA Automotive” program. My professional growth has been crowned with my actual role as Managing Director, which is a perfect challenge to proof the efforts invested so far...

What comes to your mind when you think about the program? What were the highlights?
Well, let’s summarize it: It’s the first Professional MBA focused on Automotive Industry in the World. It offers an extraordinary bunch of experience combined of accredited professors, professionals and students out of Automotive Industry in a multinational environment. It creates an unique background for the definition of present and future challenges in the sector, as well as for experience-interchange within the group. It gives you a complex insight into managerial behaviour and its tasks. Last, but not least – case studies proof that there is always more than one solution... and until the moment you study more than one possible solution, you can’t be sure, if your one is the best one!

Did the program enhance your international career or did it open the door to an international career?
Definitely enhanced! I have been working in international environment already before… this program made just the right upgrade!

What is your motto?
“Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves -- to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today.” Stewart B. Johnson

Which book do you read currently?

  • Hostage at the Table: How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict, Influence Others, and Raise Performance, by George Kohlrieser
  • The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

(Interview dtd. July 1, 2013)

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