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Cross-Disciplinary Studies to Find a Job in Germany

Planet-BPM talks to Antti Kapanen from HTW's MBA&E programme. HTW is a public University in Berlin and East Germany, with a student population of almost 14,000, which includes 3,132 international students. The University has two different campus locations: Campus Treskowallee in Berlin-Karlshorst and Campus Wilhelminenhof in Berlin-Oberschöneweide. There are about 70 different programmes of study some of which are: Engineering, Computer Science, Game Design, Fashion Desgin and Business.

How was 2018 for the MBA&E?

We had a great year overall. We sent out a record number of graduates. The programme has been growing over the past years but now we've reached what we think is a suitable size for us, with at most 120 students per year. We want to remain selective with the students, and right now we admit about 15-20% of applicants. With this size we can maintain a good standard in teaching and advisory.
In 2018 we also tried something new: With the help of an experienced professor of our department, we launched the new study specialisation called Global Leadership in Engineering. This group focuses on students who have several years of working experience, along with international and/or leadership experience. We would like to set off these students on an engineering management track, leading to leadership positions.

Now in 2019, what are you currently working on in the programme?

The study in the MBA&E is organised in relatively small groups of 15-25 students, each pursuing a particular specialisation profile. In 2019, we will not launch anything new but instead focus on developing the existing specialisations, their learning outcomes and intended employment profiles. For example, we have recently commenced a new Lean Management learning area with Lean Factory and Lean Office lab spaces that will help our Lean Management learn practical, applicable competencies. Another activity is to facilitate better communication among our professors and teaching staff in order to better coordinate the programme content over the 12 modules each group completes during the programme.
This year is also important for us because we will be re-accredited during these months. The MBA&E has an academic/industrial advisory board, which has been very helpful in preparing for the re-accreditation. We are happy to gain the external expert's input on developing the programme to better serve our students. As always, we're also engaged in research activities especially in the areas of employability and careers, and didactics and blended learning.
We have a tightly knit internal research group and we find it very important and useful to conduct primary research and create new original knowledge suitable for our own context. Conferences and projects also give us a lot of new input for keeping our programme up to date.

What language do you teach in?

All teaching in the MBA&E takes place in English and students do not need to know German to study here. However, we do offer German courses, as well. This is critical for those students who wish to find a job in Germany after graduation.

Is there any news with regards to the job search after the Programme?

Our field - Master of Business Administration and Engineering or in German Wirtschaftsingenieurwesen - is one of the fields with the best job opportunities after graduation. The graduates have a broad understanding of business and technology and can use it to solve diverse kinds of problems. It is this versatility that employers appreciate a lot!
As most students in the MBA&E are international, it's important that they start learning German as early as possible - already before arriving here - if they wish to work in Germany. There are some great international jobs in English but the reality is that learning C1 level German by graduation opens up a much bigger job market for the graduates
 
Through events and information, we try to help the MBA&E graduates understand their potential roles on the job market and apply effectively for jobs.

What makes your programme different and how does that help the students?

There are not very many successful cross-disciplinary business/engineering programmes on the market. At the HTW, we can offer this study on the basis of our long-standing German language programme in the same area and the great professors who teach in it.
Another key differentiator is the amount of specialisation options we offer. For example, there are very few opportunities to specialise in Automotive Management in a credible programme, taught by top experts in the area. Each of our five specialisations profiles the graduates clearly, giving them an extra edge on the relevant job market.

Is it true that there are many open job opportunities?

There are many open jobs in Germany. Engineers and IT experts, especially, are sought in the industry, which positions our MBA&E graduates very well. Most students have a first degree in an engineering discipline such as electrical or mechanical, but we also have some students with an IT background.

What about the women quota in your programme?

This is a point we have to improve upon: There are currently only about 8-10% female students in the programme. The engineering orientation of the programme is a hurdle for female students, who often prefer to enrol in traditional MBA programmes. We used to have a female quota of 20% and will have to work to bring it back to those numbers and preferably above.
Also our accreditation audit group recommended further diversification of the programme and we are looking into opportunities in marketing, counseling and admissions to address the situation.

How does the programme connect with the entrepreneurial world?

We know that entrepreneurship is becoming an ever more important attribute for university graduates to posses, not only for those who found companies but also for those who are entering employment. As a programme we would like to strengthen the students' autonomy, self-efficacy and problem-solving skills.
We take up a number of initiatives in order to bring the students closer to the world of business. On excursions, they get to visit German companies and in projects, they have a chance to get creative in solving complex problems.
For example, we conduct an annual Innovation Challenge with the company Bombardier, with the aim of developing solutions for the future of rail transportation. Such projects are a great way to help the students learn how to apply what they learn in classes and gain valuable generic skills.

How will new technology influence the contents of your programme?

New technologies already play an important role in the MBA&E. New Technologies and Innovation is a dedicated course, which all students take. In addition, other courses address new technologies in their respective fields.
Nevertheless, we are currently working on a concept to integrate Industry 4.0 with its broad range of technologies into the curriculum.

And climate change?

One important keyword is efficiency. Companies that produce with as little waste as possible create at the same time economical, ecological and social value. This simply belongs to the sensible business management that we teach to our students.
Another keyword is new technology. Technological advances will be key to addressing climate change - and a key contribution MBA&E graduates will be able to make. Afterall, most land jobs in the industry and not, for example, in politics.

You are from Finland. It is said to be the country with the happiest people in the world. Why is that?

It's fascinating to learn of such findings... To whatever extent they are true, I think the Finnish happiness stems from the reflexive and modest culture in the country. The people take time for themselves and the important things in their lives. They take things easy and I think they are quite resistent to the stress of our fast and connected world.

And of course, Finland is a beautiful and clean country, that must count for a lot, too. Why not pay a visit and find out for yourself?

And if true why you are living in Berlin? Berlin is much bigger than any city in Finland. It's vibrant and has tons of opportunities. I came here initially to study but over the 15 years I've spent in the city, it has become very much a home! Besides, travel in Europe is so convenient and inexpensive that home is not really far away at all... and I love to visit a few times per year, maybe to get recharged on the Finnish happiness!
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