Blog article written by: Sebastien Hammacher, Alberta MBA Candidate ‘17
Rare are those that go on an exchange program for a whole year or semester during their Alberta MBA program. It is more common for students to participate in any of the 12 different summer exchange programs or go on a study tour in China, Japan/South Korea or Europe for two weeks during the spring term.
Andrey Pavlov, a 2nd year full-time Alberta MBA student specializing in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is an exception. He decided last year that he would like to experience an exchange program for at least one semester as part of his MBA journey. Assessing the various exchange opportunities offered by the Alberta School of Business in more than 15 countries around the world, he quickly chose to put the University of Mannheim Business School in Germany at the top of his list. The school is consistently ranked as the best business school in Germany and as one of the leading business schools in Europe. It is also one of the few business schools worldwide being triple accredited by the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Association of MBAs (AMBA).
Born in Kazakhstan, Andrey moved to Russia at a young age. He completed medical school in Russia and then lived for a short period in Malta before coming to Canada to work and complete his MBA. Andrey has travelled to more than 40 countries and is always eager to learn more about new cultures and how business is conducted in other countries. “I had previously worked for two summers in Germany and brought back great memories from my work experience there. I had heard that the education system in Germany is of very high quality and knowing that Germany is one of the economic powerhouses of the world, I believed that Germany would be the best destination to gain further knowledge and skills in business management.”
When he arrived in Mannheim, he was told that he could register for as many classes as he wanted. “I was hungry to learn!” Thus, Andrey decided to register for 16 different courses. Of course, there was no way that this excessive course load was manageable, but at least “I was able to gain exposure to different subjects and complete those that interested me the most”. However, the system is slightly different in Germany. For most classes, Andrey would receive solely one or two credits, meaning that he had to take at least two classes for them to be validated as a standard one 3-credit course at the University of Alberta (UofA). At the end of the semester, Andrey took final exams for seven different classes and received enough credits from the UofA in order to complete his third semester.
“In terms of the quality of the program, I was impressed. Most courses had excellent professors and we also had a few visiting professors from around the world teaching one-week intensive classes in their area of expertise. For example, we had one professor from the University of Melbourne, in Australia and one from Simon Fraser University in Canada.” Not only did the overall quality of the classes make the whole educational experience exceptional, but the numerous networking events and real life application of theories learned in class supported this as well. “It is no wonder that the University of Mannheim is the best business school in Germany!” Almost every week, the school would have a speaker from various industries, such as banking, consulting, and consumer products & services speak about their business operations. Students would then be invited to participate in the analysis of a real case presented by the speaker and at times present their results in front of the whole auditorium. To conclude the day, students and some speakers together would enjoy the nightlife of Mannheim and go to a nearby restaurant to savor some local food and beer.
Andrey also had various opportunities to take part in class trips across Germany and Switzerland. “The most impressive trip was the one where we went to Basel in Switzerland. There we visited the La Roche headquarters.” F.Hoffman-La Roche AG is one of the biggest health-care companies in the world. “As I have a medical background, I was even more interested in listening to La Roche’s CFO, Dr Alan Hippe, describe the challenges the company is facing in today’s economy.”
Finally, Andrey was also able to lay out a potential career path during his time in Germany. Along with a team of 4 other business students, they pitched an idea as part of a venture creation assignment for their Creativity and Entrepreneurship class. Not only did his team earn the highest mark, but in addition, investors that were present during the pitch were interested in investing in their business idea under the condition that the team creates a prototype. “Recently, the course professor introduced our team to a representative from Bayer AG, German multinational chemical and pharmaceutical company, which may lead us to the next stage. I am currently still working along with my team on creating the prototype and we hope that by this summer, we can start sales. Since I am graduating this summer, I hope that this startup will turn into a real international business I can be part of which in Canada. Of course, I am keeping a back-up plan in case the startup fails.”
Looking forward, Andrey hopes that he can inspire other MBA students to take advantage of the excellent exchange opportunities the UofA School of Business has to offer. And who knows? Perhaps the student he is able to convince will then also start a business and establish the right connections for a job abroad.
Check out the following link for more information on international opportunities available during the Alberta MBA program!
Andrey Pavlov is a second-year full-time Alberta MBA student, specializing in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.