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“It’s always nice to be back here”

Six alumni returned to Pforzheim to pass on their knowledge to current MBA students.  We were happy to welcome back the following alumni: Aswin Pottayil ’15, Emmanuel Omar Rodriguez Retana ’12, Gabriela Leyva ’16, Hui Zhang ’02, Nancy Muytoy ’15, and Prithwish Sarkar ’16.


IT Project Manager, Continental

Doing the MBA at Pforzheim “was the best decision I made.”

Not too long ago, Aswin remembers when he was sitting on the other side of the table. He commented, “It’s always nice to be back here.” As a student, he valued both his work student experiences at SAP and KPMG and the academic studies, especially in International Economics, Supply Chain, Consulting, and Strategic Management. Aswin started work at Continental through the trainee program, which allowed him to see the organization from a bird’s eye view. He rotated through departments and learned about digitalization from different perspectives, such as IT, strategy, and risk mitigation.

GABRIELA LEYVA, Class of 2016, Mexico

Digital Marketing Manager, SAP

“The reason why I chose Pforzheim was the attention I received from the [MBA] team.”

Gabriela started working at SAP as a working student and now she has advanced her career as a Digital Marketing Manager. As a working student, she actively sought opportunities to propose ideas and take on projects outside her responsibilities. She advised students to “Get your hands dirty. You learn more by doing.” Her three key takeaways from the MBA experience is 1) “Take care and nourish relationships with colleagues;” 2) “Learn the language; that’s a must;” and 3) Be open to other cultures that are different from your own.


Manager Process Integration Europe, Teva Pharmaceuticals

“Never stop learning.”

From Computer Systems Engineering to MBA, Emmanuel Omar “jumped from the technical world to the business world.” He worked in three different industries: banking, automobile, and pharmaceutical. Having previously switched industries, Emmanuel Omar stated that “it was not easy,” but he was patient and was able to successfully leverage his background to obtain the job he wanted. Emmanuel Omar advised students to, “Choose what makes you happy. Try and fail. It is good to fail; when you fail, you can learn something new.” Lastly, he encouraged students to “challenge the professors” and “challenge the status quo” because things are rapidly changing. 

HUI ZHANG, Class of 2002, China

Managing Director, NIO

“Follow your heart.”

A successful and charismatic businessman, Mr. Zhang captured the audience with his success stories and down-to-earth charm. He successfully turned companies around, drove profit margins to over 30%, and built teams from a 20-person start-up to over 5000 employees. Mr. Zhang is currently the managing director of NIO, a Chinese global start-up company that manufactures and designs premium, electric, autonomous vehicles. He advised students to “Pick up the right industry and pick it up at the right moment.” Furthermore, he advised them to make a long-term plan and break it up into phases that could be achievable step by step. Mr. Zhang encouraged students to stay ambitious, stating “Nobody can win without hard work.”

NANCY MUYTOY, Class of 2015, Mexico

Project Manager, Valeo  

“Working with international people changes your mind in a very good way.”

Nancy enjoyed Pforzheim’s multicultural environment in the MBA program. Her experience working with an international cohort helped her learn how to approach people from different countries. As a project manager at Valeo, she uses these skills to manage stakeholders, and she uses her business acumen to lead projects. During the final semester of the program, Nancy did an internship at Omikron Data Quality while completing her Master’s thesis. Although it was very tough, she enjoyed the experience working closely with Germans because that was when her German language skills progressed exponentially.

PRITHWISH SARKAR, Class of 2016, India

Pricing Marketing Engineer, Cypress Semiconductor Corporation

“Enjoy all the conflicts you have here.”                     

Prittwish’s key takeaway from Pforzheim’s MBA program is learning how to handle conflicts. During his studies, he worked with people from all over the world. That helped him learn how to discuss and to manage conflicts. Prittwish encouraged students to be proactive and to approach management with ideas. Additionally, he advised students to learn as much as possible in the industries; otherwise, opportunities will be missed for both employees and companies.

After brief introductions and a Q&A session, Professor Harald Strotmann, Vice Dean of Pforzheim Business School and Director of the MBA program, wrapped up with a summary of takeaways that resonated with him.  Key messages included embracing the change, the importance of networking, and challenging professors and the status quo. He thanked the alumni for their “interesting insights and inspiring” stories. Prof. Strotmann reiterated the importance to “build your story” and to be ready to answer, “What makes me interesting?” The evening ended with an opportunity to personally approach the alumni and reach out to them with further questions. As always, we value the time and effort that alumni give back to our program and support current students.