I accepted the offer of admission from ESMT Berlin in July 2018 and visited the campus for the first time in September that year. It was such an impressive-looking building, and I was so excited at knowing that come January I would be spending a year here learning and growing.
How could I have chosen the university without having seen the campus in person? Well, Berlin itself wasn’t unknown to me; I had taken vacations to Berlin before and knew I loved it.
I was born in Toronto, and had never lived more than 120km from my birth place. I had built a strong career for myself in the logistics industry, but I longed for more, and knew that to take my career to the next level, I had to make a bold move.
I decided that that step would be an international MBA. But where? Well, nothing made sense except to go to the European city that I loved so much. I researched business schools and found ESMT Berlin.
With a full-time MBA programme that was packed into a single year, ESMT’s focus on innovation and technology made sense to me, as I didn’t know whether or not I would want to stay in the logistics industry post-graduation.
ESMT’s full-time MBA programme is arranged into six modules. I describe it like building a house: module one is a foundational layer, covering global economics, analytical skills, and decision making; modules two and three provide support pillars (finance, accounting, marketing, organisational behaviour, and so on); and by the end of module three everything is pulled together into business and corporate strategy classes. Module four lets us decorate our house with a list of electives. And modules five and six let us apply what we have learned, first in an external consulting project, and then with a start-up challenge.
Berlin, like Toronto, is a highly international city, as is the ESMT programme. Our 2019 class contained 50 students of 24 nationalities; every continent except Antarctica was represented and the faculty and staff are just as international. Because of the smaller class size, our classes were very interactive and we really got to know the professors.
The campus, like the class sizes, is small. An impressive auditorium is dedicated to the full-time MBA programme, with massive windows overlooking the neighbouring Humboldt Forum and the Spree, right in the middle of Berlin. The city’s flat terrain made cycling to the campus each day a breeze.
The one-year programme was jam-packed; we had to be prepared for every class, while also dealing with frequent individual and group assignment deadlines. The group assignments were not always easy but I think I learned the most from them. Not only about the subject at hand, but about working with a wide array of people.
Our class graduated in December at a ceremony held on campus. I travelled back to Canada for Christmas to visit family and friends, but quickly returned to Berlin because, like many of my classmates, I have chosen to continue my life here.
Covid-19 has undoubtedly made job searching in 2020 very challenging. I am nonetheless glad to be in a comfortable place where I can continue to improve my German language skills and search for the perfect job for myself.
ESMT and the MBA programme exceeded my expectations, and I am thankful for the friendships and connections I have built. I even visited the new MBA class of 2020 during their orientation week and gave a talk about how to get the most out of their studies. In a nutshell, my advice was to participate actively, and be ready to learn from every new situation.