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MBAs in Munich: what drew five Oxford Saïd alumni to Bavaria’s upcoming capital?

Munich is Germany’s third largest city, and it is now home to a number of Saïd Business School, University of Oxford’s 2016 cohort. So, what makes an MBA choose this fast growing city over traditional destinations such as London, New York or San Francisco, and how does it compare to the dreaming spires of Oxford?

Originally from India, Shamil Maindiratta moved to Munich after accepting an offer from Amazon.  Her role within the company’s Retail Program allows her to rotate between two different positions over three years and she credits the Oxford MBA with preparing her for such a demanding job. ‘I think the MBA prepares you in more ways than you realise,’ she said. ‘You learn to understand your priorities and focus your energies the right way. Professionally, the MBA is a platform that automatically opens more doors and provides you the chance to really explore your options.’

Shamil had her sights set on London during the programme, but has embraced Munich’s unique environment. ‘I love the city - it's a perfect balance of busy and calm depending on what you need,’ she said.

‘Sometimes soft skills are acquired the hard way’

Also at Amazon’s Munich offices is Dima Al Tabba, a Syrian who worked for two and half years at Deloitte, Syria during her countries on going civil war. ‘Sometimes soft skills are acquired the hard way, and I was exposed to more responsibility, risk and ambiguity than many would at my age,’ she said. ‘Even though I was young, this experience made me grow and accumulate knowledge much faster. Within a few months, I was already leading my team. This allowed me to be ready to take the next step and pursue my MBA in order to shift careers.’

Dima achieved this career shift quickly following her MBA, and she now works as a Senior Vendor Manager at Amazon. ‘I love the fast paced work environment and the “startup” culture that Amazon still maintains even while being a giant corporation,’ she said. ‘I’m developing strategies for vendor relationships and management, negotiating deals and annual terms as well as working on several projects to improve processes. It’s a job that makes use of all the skills I acquired during my MBA.’

‘The MBA allowed me to make that jump from very technical work to strategic work while still leveraging my prior studies and experience.’

Stefan Bekker is an Actuary who was born and raised in South Africa. He came to Saïd Business School to broaden his skillset, particularly in regards to strategy. ‘I believe that Actuaries have a lot more value to add when we get out of our technical specialist box,’ he said. ‘The MBA allowed me to make that jump from very technical work to strategic work while still leveraging my prior studies and experience.’

As well as broadening his skillset, Stefan credits the MBA with strengthening his views on the benefits of diversity: ‘We live in a time where many people and nations are actively isolating themselves. But in the MBA at Oxford Saïd, we were 327 people from 58 different countries with many different religions, cultures, sexual orientations and gender identities. The magic that can happen when all these people come together with a common goal to break down barriers was by far my most memorable lesson from Oxford.’

Rohit Kumar of Hyderabad, India describes himself as a process oriented individual who is perpetually in search of Pareto optimal methods for achieving results. His focus on efficiency made him the perfect fit for Amazon’s EU Leadership Development Program, where he now works on one of their inbound supply chains. ‘Germany is known for its high professional standards and I was excited to live and learn in this environment,’ explained Rohit. ‘However, as comfortable as life in Munich is, I do miss the academic atmosphere, beautiful landscape, and college events of Oxford.’

Maren Mende enrolled at Oxford Saïd to make a career move into strategy consulting. A former banker and German national, she describes herself as a restless millennial and sports addict. ‘I was lucky and had the option of moving to Frankfurt or Munich with the firm I’m working for,’ she said. ‘For me, Munich had so much to offer. It is an incredibly international city, yet still steeped in Bavarian culture. It’s packed with things to do, cultural attractions plus countless restaurants and quirky bars – not to mention the Octoberfest. The climate is better than anywhere else in Germany: hot summers, snowy winters and one of the highest numbers of sunshine hours.’

‘It’s very hard to compare it to Oxford, because Munich is much larger, surrounded by lakes and mountains, while Oxford is quainter and features much older architecture,’ continued Maren. ‘However, the one thing they both definitely have in common is the dominance of cyclists!’

Learn more about our MBA programme at the Efellows MBA Day in Munich, 10 March.

Learn about our MBA programme at the Efellows MBA Day in Munich, 10 March.