Excursions are an important part of the MBA International Management programme´s Company Experience. Visits to companies and meetings with experienced executives and managers enable our MBA students not only to gain professional insights into different industries in Germany but also to get a better idea of the German business environment. This semester´s four-day excursion took the students to Munich, where they had the opportunity to meet with representatives of Allianz, NIO and SHAPEiN in addition to visiting companies such as Munich Re, attempto and Autoscout. To round off the agenda the MBA had arranged for a guided city tour in Munich and an alumni meeting at a local beer garden with MBA graduates who live in the Munich area.
Day one saw the second semester MBA students visit Munich Re where they were received by CPO Thomas Faller, who’s also a Pforzheim University alumnus! Lukas Kocher, Climate Change Solutions Consultant, then covered the challenges faced by reinsurance companies due to climate change. As a multinational reinsurance company with operations in over 50 countries and 47,000 employees, Munich Re has become well-versed in the topic of climate for many decades. Subsequently this also means that they have an understanding of what it translates to from a risk perspective. From this they are able to assess and build collaborative (internally and externally) strategies which employs deep knowledge and technological solutions to continuously address these upcoming concerns.
Thomas Faller provided a brief summary of his career before he introduced Central Procurement’s (CP) global governance model. To be successful in Procurement he explained the four cornerstones that make a difference: (1) Customer Focus (2) Excellence delivered by a diverse and inclusive global workforce (3) Digitization of the supply chain and making sure that (4) ESG and Risk Management is embraced from the very beginning when selecting and onboarding a vendor.
Guided city tour
After all these valuable insights the MBA students meet with a city guide at Marienplatz, where they were able to listen to the famous Glockenspiel, before starting their tour to the Viktualienmarkt, the Hofbräuhaus and Odeonsplatz to learn more about Munich and its history.
Day two started with a trip to Werksviertel-Mitte where the Head of attempto Munich, Matthias Leukert, gave an overview of attempto GmbH & Co. KG. Specialized in IT consulting and digitalization services, the SME focuses on project implementation and solution design. The team at attempto presented some of the many interesting projects they are currently working on. They gave insights into the corporate communications department, product development in cooperation with Fairventures Worldwide and innovation practices at attempto Lab. Anna Erhardt, Marketing and PR, spoke about workforce expansion and digital communication refinement as part of their corporation comms scope. In addition, she addressed approaches attempto is using to tap the potential of "re-entrants" through its Boomerang campaign.
Serap Kacira, Agile Project Manager, then introduced attendees to Treeam, a digital product from attempto that grew out of partner Fairventures Worlwide's need to use apps and technology to promote transparency and trust in its reforestation initiatives in Indonesia and Uganda. Guest speaker Nicolas Henriksson, Business Development & Partnerships, Fairventures Worldwide, to further explain the aforementioned initiatives.
At the end, Alexander Bloß, Head of attempto Lab, gave an overview of the methods the company is using to respond to the accelerating pace of change. attempto Lab has created a simple innovation process that typically begins with identifying the goal of selecting an endeavor and ends with sharing key insights.
The students were hosted by Christian Schulten, Talent Attraction, Organisational and People Development, at the AutoScout24 office. AutoScout24 is the largest pan-European online car market. AutoScout24 offers consumers, car dealers, and other cooperation partners in the automotive, finance and insurance industries a comprehensive platform for trading cars online. AutoScout24 is up to further growth, e.g. via a systematic integration of car leasing services as well as via “Smyle” - the new online car purchasing offer.
As an employer of choice, AutoScout24 is constantly engaging to shape their New Ways of Working within a global team of over 50 nationalities, to create incredible products for 30 million users and more than 40.000 dealer partners. With flexible hybrid or fully remote working conditions and a culture that fosters an inclusive mindset all AutoScouts are combining different backgrounds, skills and ideas to win together. The AutoScout24 NWoW approach means also to provide access to mentorship, training opportunities and leadership development programs, so the team can keep learning, growing and developing their career. Most recently, in exploring best setup, the firm had conducted a company-wide survey to understand its employees´ inclination towards hybrid working, office design, and implementing HR processes in response.
Day three of the second semester excursion saw Diksha Ahuja, Productivity Specialist and HSPF MBA alumni, brief our students about Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) which includes her to-date experience with the company and her current responsibilities. The organisational dynamism of this multi-national financial services company affords its employees opportunities to grow and pursue various interests. She also touched upon Allianz’s scope beyond insurance.
Colleague and senior consultant Besida Mekollari later joined via video conferencing to shine a light on Allianz’s global consulting capabilities and how internal consulting works. Also connecting online were Allianz’s Talent Attraction Consultant Veronika Fleischmann and Recruiting Lead Mihaela Derstappen who provided an outline on Allianz’s recruiting process and addressed the students’ concerns regarding the consulting field.
In the evening the current students met with MBA alumni who live and work in the Munich area in one of the local beer gardens to network and chat the evening away about their individual experiences during the MBA studies.
Hui Zhang, Group VP / Managing Director of NIO (and HSPF MBA alumni), kicked off Day four by taking time out of his tight schedule to make a brief but stirring appearance. He talked about his motivations when pursuing the path of fostering a start-up; motivations which, he further adds, could serve as a helpful guide for the students when making career moves. Furthermore, Hui Zhang touched upon NIO’s forays and innovation in the automotive field which includes its line of state-of-the art EVs, Battery-as-a-Service expansion in Europe as well as its extension as a lifestyle brand. He was joined by his support team which included Senior HR Director Europe, Carmen Avallena Garcia and Head of Talent Acquisition Victoria Wagner who shared about career opportunities at NIO. At the end of the morning students had the unique opportunity to have a look at the latest model of NIO, which will go on sale in Germany only later this year.
Closing Day four and the excursion as a whole was HSPF MBA alumna and SHAPEiN Senior Consultant, Ceyla Özdemir. At the beginning of the talk Ceyla shared her own story about being a former MBA student and all her different career steps after graduating from the program with the current students. Afterwards she elaborated about the consulting company SHAPEiN, that combines its strategic expertise and deep knowledge of HRIT with its partner Pentos’ know-how in HRIT solution implementation to tailor HR solutions and processes according to the clients’ needs. Ceyla gave deep insights into exciting projects she was involved in in both strategic HRIT consulting and implementation of HRIT solutions.
On the way back to Pforzheim current MBA student Thomas from the US stated: “The excursion to Munich was an exceptionally rewarding experience. Staying in central Munich and meeting with several firms with the opportunity to learn more about what they do and network was certainly beneficial for the students. I am very happy to have been given such an opportunity to travel within Germany and meet with professionals.”
A big thank you to Munich Re, attempto and Autoscout24 for welcoming us and to our guests from Allianz, NIO and SHAPEiN for the very interesting and inspiring sessions!
Text: Michelle Ahras, MBA Class of 2023