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Experiences of students and alumni

Thomas Bußmann

student since the winter semester 2016/2017

What were your reasons for choosing the Operations Management programme?

The key factors when opting for the MOM study programme were primarily the projects related to the subject areas “production and logistics“, as central components of the degree programme. The mix of innovative research projects at the University and practical projects with partners from industry, paired with the respective theoretical input in the lectures, made a lasting impression on me: No other degree programme I had considered could have given me a similar wealth of practical skills in combination with theoretical knowledge.

Operations Management is a “project Master’s course“. What impact does this have and what benefits can you expect?

Particularly appealing for me as a Master’s student is that fact that both pure research topics as well as highly practice-relevant projects are a part of the course. In addition to the wealth of subject-related content, the parallel development of “soft skills” is infinitely worthwhile. Close, self-organised collaboration with the students in the project groups shows how important communication, motivation and good project management are to achieve goals as a team.

What parts of your course did you especially enjoy, where did you find yourself having to struggle?

I particularly liked the common experience of highs and lows in the project teams which formed a lasting bond between us. Close friendships developed and the overall “Spirit“ in the projects is unique! Challenging for me was the work on the research project in the logistics learning factory of ESB. There I learned for the first time what it means to work in a real research environment and that it can be a perfectly positive research result to prove that something doesn’t work. Learning the ropes by yourself in completely new, innovative topics (for which there are no specific contents in relevant textbooks) was a challenging activity where I learned a lot and I would not want to have missed.

What is student life like at ESB Business School and in Reutlingen?

I was positively surprised by the general student life in Reutlingen. The city centre has a lot to offer both in terms of cultural activities and the physical wellbeing of the students. The countryside around Reutlingen is very beautiful, inviting you to engage in many different sporting activities. And if that’s not enough, ESB offers an abundance of workshops, sporting and cultural events which cater for every taste!

Anna Keller
Anna Keller

graduated in 2014
Beiersdorf Manufacturing

Interview shortly after graduating, in September 2014

You have just completed your Master’s in Operations Management. What happens next, after graduating?
I have already accepted a new job at Beiersdorf Manufacturing Hamburg starting in October. There I will carry out planning and optimisation projects in the production of Nivea products. I will use the time until then for travelling. Who knows when I will get the chance again to be away for more than two weeks at a time. 

What do you like most about this job and your employer?                                    
I am glad that after my studies I am again involved in mainly technical activities. I think it’s important and right to build up a technical basis before taking the step towards a leadership or management task. What I particularly like about Beiersdorf is that employees are given responsibility and that there are a lot of international development opportunities within the company. These were also the major criteria for my choice of employer.

Looking back, which classes in your course do you feel were the most important for your professional activity?
In my present job the theoretical and methodical knowledge I gained from the Lean Management and Project Management classes is the most important. However, the many topics I dealt with during my course also help me to think out of the box, to understand colleagues and their work areas and to classify my own tasks within the corporate structure.  This is why I strongly recommend that students take a wide choice of subjects in the Master’s course. And who can say now for which tasks and challenges the know-how gained in the course will still be useful in the future.    

What did you enjoy about your studies and where did you perhaps have to struggle a little?
I really enjoyed doing projects as part of a team. We students were given a lot of scope for developing our own ideas. In this way it was possible for us to test ourselves and to find common solutions. Further, most of the lectures were in line with active practice. We were able to learn a lot from the experience of the lecturers and professors as well as from their professional lives. The only time I found myself stressed was in the traffic jams between Stuttgart and Reutlingen. But that, after all, is what I had chosen to do …

The Operations Management programme is a “Project Master’s“, meaning that you worked as part of team with other students on a research or industrial project. How does that actually work and what do the students get out of it? 
We were a team of five students who carried out a number of optimisation projects in the “lubrication technology“ division of Bielomatik Leuze GmbH. The other ten students on our course were in and out of Bielomatik’s other divisions. We worked closely with Bielomatik’s employees and together with them found solutions for specific issues. We reconstructed, for instance, a worker’s assembly cell, at the same time optimising workflows. It was truly fascinating to see directly the effect of our ideas and possible solutions in practice and to learn from mistakes or setbacks. This also helped to strengthen our team spirit.

What was student life in Reutlingen like?
Since I had a part-time job at Siemens in Stuttgart during the Master’s course, I was commuting between Reutlingen and Stuttgart, so there wasn’t much time left for student life. However, it was especially while doing the Project and on the many excursions that I experienced a great cohesion between the students as well as a lively exchange of ideas between professors and students. And we certainly didn’t miss out on any fun.

What advice would you give someone who is about to choose a Master’s degree programme?
I think it is wise to think very carefully about which specialisation you would like to take in the Master’s course. The Bachelor/Master system provides us with so many options to enhance the basics we have learned in the Bachelor’s course with the specific skills in our own field of interests. In contrast to a widely held opinion, I also feel it is wise to gain practical experience after the Bachelor’s degree in a first job or on internships in order to make it easier to choose the areas in which a further theoretical broadening of knowledge would make sense. For me personally it was often helpful during my Master’s course that I was able to categorise theory correctly on the basis of the experience I gained while working. After obtaining my Bachelor’s degree I knew that I would do a Master’s course. Yet I allowed myself almost two years to gain an insight into working life in order to choose on this basis the right postgraduate course. This more than paid off when looking for a job after the Master’s course.  

Philipp Fanous
Philipp Fanous

graduated in 2014
Beiersdorf Manufacturing

You have just completed your Master’s degree in Operations Management. What will you do now that you have completed your studies?
As I didn’t join the company where I wrote my Master’s thesis, some applications were still open. I nevertheless wanted to make good use of my time and first went on a tour of Europe in order to be quickly available for an interview. I will now join Beiersdorf. I had a telephone interview for this job from a remote carpark in Italy. I will take over the coordination of projects in the area of TPM. 

What did you enjoy about your course and where did you perhaps have to struggle a bit?
Besides the projects I particularly enjoyed the excursions to various companies or fairs in different countries. This gave us the chance at the beginning of the course to get to know fellow students and to exchange views with the professors on a whole variety of topics. A lecture I enjoyed very much was International Marketing. Even though I won’t be able to actually use much of it in my current job, I learned a lot of things that can be found in everyday life. 

The Operations Management programme is a “Project Master‘s“, which means that you worked in a team with other students on a research or industrial project. How does this work exactly on the course and where does it get you?
First one project per semester in cooperation with a company was selected by the University. In our case this was Bielomatik, a manufacturer of special machinery from Neuffen. After the company had proposed the project and its objectives, all further organisation was the responsibility of the students. For individual questions it was possible to attend a support lecture or to arrange an appointment with the responsible professor. In our case the first project was about the development of a strategy for dealing with the volatile incoming orders situation and in the second project, which took place in small groups, the optimisation of an assembly workstation. 

What was student life in Reutlingen like?
Naturally large cities have more to offer in the way of culture than Reutlingen, yet in my opinion student life depends on what the students make of it. I found student life in Reutlingen very relaxed and informal. You often socialise with other students and so quickly establish close contact with students from a whole range of degree programmes. At the same time Reutlingen with its many small bars and pubs also provides a very nice atmosphere.   

 What would you advise someone who is just about to choose a Master’s degree programme?
I would say it is useful and right to continue after a Bachelor’s degree and to finish your studies with a Master’s degree. The first benefit is that in your subsequent career all doors will be open to you. During your Master’s course you should definitely try to acquire as many contacts as possible in industry, with a job as a working student, for example, or by writing your thesis at a company. This will make your entry into professional life easier after the Master’s degree. When choosing a Master’s degree programme you should take into account your interests and expectations when you later enter professional life.