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This semester's “Alumni Meet Current Students” was a tad bit different! Due to the Covid-19 situation the meeting had to be virtual and against all expectations it was in some way even better! While we would have certainly loved to host our highly appreciated alumni on campus and connect over refreshments and pizza, the online session allowed us to welcome alumni all the way from the US as well!

The MBA had the honour of hosting, Ashish Chandavarkar, International Sales Manager at HBC-Radiomatic GmbH remote controls; Bibin Tom, Operations Consultant at Continental AG; Eric Massingham, Product Line Manager at Siemens Digital Logistics; James Dymond, Investor Relations Manager at SAP SE; Luis Jimenez Encabo, Head of Sales and Verticals Business Administration Americas and Asia/Pacific, Siemens; Lydia Michael, President and Owner of Blended Collective, Multicultural Marketing Consultant; Madhwendu Shekhar, Vice President, Regional Head - DACH at Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd.; Mitali Bhagwat, Senior Consultant at Laife Reply and Yanhong Dai, eMobility Controlling – Battery Strategy, Daimler AG.

Ashish Chandavarkar, India, Class of 2015, International Sales Manager at HBC-Radiomatic GmbH

“I prefer to be a big fish in a small pond, rather than a small fish in a big one”, saidAshish, our first speaker of the alumni meet. Ashish recognized quite early in his career that the German Mittelstand (mid-sized companies), also popularly known as the hidden champions, form the backbone of Germany’s export oriented economy. He had his career goal – to be a business development specialist for hidden champions - set even before he completed his MBA. The MBA program’s hands-on approach to learning, according to Ashish, gave him the opportunity to work on tough projects and provided a well-rounded learning experience. Moreover, while concluding his introductory speech, Ashish reassured our current MBA cohort that in the current uncertain times (resulting from COVID-19) it is natural to have doubts over one’s future after MBA; however, they will get opportunities, and that the strength of the German economic and social environment will be a key enabler in overcoming this hurdle in the coming months.

Bibin Tom, India, Class of 2015, Operations Consultant at Continental AG

The second speaker of the evening, Bibin moved to Germany after having completed his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in India and several years of experience in the Automotive Industry. His objective of enrolling for the MBA was not only to complement his technical skills with management education but also to broaden his views and find good working opportunities in Europe or Germany after his graduation. During his introductory speech, Bibin not only elaborated on his job profile and the SAP harmonisation projects he is currently working on but also highlighted how the MBA experience gave him an opportunity to work with a diverse cohort, helping him in his job relocations to the USA and China.

Eric Massingham, USA, Class of 2018, Product Line Manager at Siemens Digital Logistic

Originally from the US, Eric has played professional baseball for 8 years in the US, Australia and Germany. With a Bachelor’s in Finance, he believes his career progression would have been a lot tougher without the MBA and the wide variety of courses he had at the Hochschule. The exposure to different business areas during his studies enabled him to find his preferred one and to change his career to business strategy. Eric also mentioned that he will be forever grateful to the MBA for opening so many doors to him. Having given a company its name in his thesis, he encouraged students to be bold and creative with their company projects and thesis and take all the liberties granted to them.

James Dymond, USA, class of 2004, Investor Relations Manager (SRI) at SAP

“Use the crisis to create an opportunity”, said our fourth speaker James. It was in the year 2001, post 9/11, that James saw his career plans jeopardized after facing a job elimination quite early in his career. But that did not make him lose hope as he decided to pursue an MBA in Germany, a country where he would be able to use his German language skills to create an advantage for his career. Today, James is Investor Relations Manager at SAP and is responsible for the company’s communication with its shareholders, with a focus on sustainability. According to James, the experience of working with people from different cultures during the MBA prepared him for a career at an international company such as SAP.

Luis Jimenez Encabo, Spain/Germany, Class of 1998, Head of Sales and Verticals Business Administration Americas and Asia/Pacific, Siemens, Karlsruhe

Grown up between Spain and Germany, Luis did his bachelor´s degree in International Business at Pforzheim University and came back to this institution in 1996 to be a student of the very first MBA batch. The exposure to students from a different cultural background and the work in international teams was one of the best learnings for him to prepare him for his future jobs in Spain, China and Germany. Luis told the students to “work hard, party hard and do everything with passion.” He also advised them to “never doubt yourselves but be aware of your experience”. Besides Luis laid special emphasis on the importance of networking and said he truly missed the relationships he had with the Professors.

Lydia Michael, USA/Germany, Class of 2016, President and Owner of Blended Collective, Multicultural Marketing Consultant, Detroit

Born and raised in Germany, Lydia’s family moved to the US soon after she finished high school. Having worked in the entertainment and music industry for multiple years, she decided to quit and go back to her roots to gain experience in the German labor market. Having done her internship and master thesis with L'Oréal, she encouraged students to put a lot of thought into selecting their thesis topic and company projects as it plays a very crucial role in shaping one’s post MBA opportunities and career path. She also advised students to pursue everything with passion, highlighting how months of relentless job application left her disenchanted yet determined and motivated to start her own company, which she has now been running for around two years

Madhwendu Shekhar, India, Class of 2003, Vice President, Regional Head - DACH at Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd

Madhwendu was the first-ever Indian to enroll at Pforzheim University´s MBA program. It was After working in India for 13 years in Business Development and having learnt the German language as a hobby, Madhwendu decided to take his chance and do an MBA. Today, he has fond memories of Pforzheim and the university and recognizes how much they have changed over the last 20 years. In his key address Madhwendu stated that coming to Germany initially has been a major challenge. At the same time he appreciated studying in a multinational environment and learning to work in big teams. He pointed out to the students the importance of German language skills and the role of the MBA thesis to open doors to the industry.

Yanhong Dai, China, Class of 2016, eMobility Controlling – Battery Strategy, Daimler AG, Stuttgart

The last speaker of the evening was Yanhong Dai. After a master´s degree in Banking and Finance Yanhong worked in a state-owned investment enterprise in China. Since she always yearned for a multicultural experience she decided to take the plunge in the MBA program at Pforzheim University. The experience of working in a culturally diverse environment with people from 11 different countries, was an amazing experience for Yanhong, from which she still benefits today. Yanhong also credits the MBA for providing her with the opportunity to work on rigorous group projects and presentations, such as the company projects, which enabled her to put everything into practice that she had learned in the MBA and which helped her develop her skills for a challenging career at Daimler.

After the introduction round, the line was opened for Q&A. Some of the interesting questions posed to our alumni panel were: Do you regret not having done something during your MBA studies? What was the toughest/lowest point in your MBA journey? How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your organisation and workplace/team dynamics? Or, how did and do you mange team work in big groups?

After the Q&A round the alumni went to their appointed virtual offices, where the students could meet them and ask them their individual questions and most of all – network with the alumni.

We are very grateful to our alumni for still staying in close contact with our MBA program and for their ongoing support throughout the years. Thank you very much! It was a pleasure having you for this “Alumni Meet Current Students” event!

Text: Shvetang Pai Angle & Surel Surve, Class of 2021